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A Touch of Asia recently visited charming Battambang as part of an inspection trip. As on previous visits we were enchanted by the slow-paced small town, easy access to friendly villages and the well-preserved colonial architecture.

Y880 Battambang 16 Jul 12

Battambang is a logical third destination after Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The three locations are on three points of a triangle around the Tonle Sap Lake & River. For clients travelling by road this means no backtracking. Also as a small town, visitors get a real free for the surrounding countryside where much of the sightseeing takes place. The early 20th century French colonial architecture is still prevalent with little modern development taking place. Arts and culture are being revitalized and galleries provide local artists the chance to present their work.  

Y669 Rice paper drying, Battambang village bike tour 14 Jul 12

The most well-known tour is to try the local ‘bamboo train’ with the chance to ride a train or ‘nori’  (wooden platform placed on 4 wheels and connected to a gasoline engine that powers the device) through the countryside. A tragic reminder of the Khmer Rouge exists at the killing caves of Phnom Sampeau – though worth a visit to learn more about the cruel regime, enjoy a fantastic view for miles of rural Cambodia and also to experience a natural phenomenon of millions of bats flying out of a cave at dusk.

Travelling responsibly is an important part of any visit to Cambodia and Battambang offers plenty of options. Soksabike, a socially conscious bike company, offers countryside rides with plenty of genuine interaction with villagers. A visit to Battambang is not complete without watching Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus in its heartland. After the show we highly recommend dinner at the recently opened training and development restaurant, Jaan Bai which is run by the Cambodian Children’s Trust and is working to break the cycle of poverty in Battambang by empowering underprivileged children.

Y628 Cinema, Battambang 13 Jul 12

Our Travel like a local in Battambang tour is a 3 day, 2 night adventure which not only takes in the highlights of Battambang but also the magnificent Banteay Chhmar. The tour fits perfectly as an extension of a visit to Siem Reap or can be part of more in-depth visit to Cambodia.

Z028 Walk around Banteay Chhmar 4 Aug 12