Battambang: an adventure in Cambodia’s ‘Rice Bowl’

Cambodia is a land of intrigue and adventure, which has been capturing the imagination of intrepid travellers for decades. A firm favourite on the backpacker trail and an emerging destination for holidaymakers looking for a trip with a difference, Cambodia has something for everyone. If you’re planning a personalised Cambodia holiday, a visit to Battambang, a city located in the region of Cambodia that is affectionately known as the ‘Rice Bowl,’ comes highly recommended.

 

The delights of Battambang

Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city, but it is often overlooked by tourists. If you’re an adventurous type who resents spending hours queuing to see major tourist sights, this will be welcome news. Although Battambang doesn’t have the universal appeal of other sites, such as Angkor Wat and the coastal resorts that boast golden beaches, it’s has its own unique attractions. If you visit Battambang now, you’re in for a treat, and you won’t have to contend with crowds.

Battambang is a bustling city, but it’s not so hectic that you’ll lose your way or feel overwhelmed. There’s a friendly vibe and this is a forward-thinking city where creativity is celebrated. Think lively cafes, art galleries and street stalls selling homemade wares rather than skyscrapers and markets where you can’t hear yourself think. Popular sights include Phnom Banan and the Hindu temple of Ek Phnom.

Eating in Battambang

Battambang is renowned for its cuisine, and there’s a vibrant and eclectic blend of flavours on offer. Fusion dishes are very popular here, and you can go as formal or casual as you like. The street vendors sell an incredible array of traditional, rustic dishes, but there are also plenty of eateries you can head to if you fancy a sit down meal. French cooking has a very strong influence here, and you’ll also find Cambodian and Vietnamese dishes on the menus. Eating out is relatively cheap, but this doesn’t reflect any compromise on quality.

Getting around

The best way to explore Battambang is on two wheels. You may be slightly disappointed if you’re expecting perfectly laid tarmac cycle lanes, but this is all part of the fun and charm of Battambang. The undulating, dusty routes will take you out of the city, and you can amble past ancient monasteries, fields of cattle and rice paddies. If you book a guided tour, you can also head into the villages, meet the locals and find out more about local industries such as rice wine production. It’s also worth taking a ride on the rustic bamboo train, which clatters along the tracks, transporting people from the city to the more rural villages.