Bats, a Bamboo Train and Rural Life in Battambang

A city off the beaten path that doesn’t attract many tourists – sounds pretty lame, hey? Don’t be fooled! Battambang in Cambodia has plenty of things to do that will teach you a lot about this captivating country.

Bats, a Bamboo Train and Rural Life in BattambangBattambang isn’t part of the typical tourist route in Cambodia. You have to take a slight detour because of the few roads that lead there. From Phnom Penh, the bus takes around 6 hours and from Siem Reap it’s a 3.5 hour drive on the bus. If like me, you have plenty of time in Cambodia, take this detour and discover the real Cambodia in Battambang! Whilst there aren’t tons of things to do there, the few things that you can do are unique to the area!

Ride the Bamboo Train

On the outskirts of the city, the French colonialists built train tracks. Whilst there are no trains running anymore, you can take a tiny bamboo train for a ride along the tracks. We paid $5 each and got onto a bamboo pallet on top of 2 axels.

Battambang - Bamboo Train (1)

Once sat down, the fun began! The ‘train’ goes pretty damn fast and it’s so much fun as you can see in the video I took below!

The scenery along the way is beautiful, you get to see the countryside with it’s fields and the track runs through stunning nature!

Battambang - Bamboo Train (4)

Since it’s a single track, the rule for any trains going the other way is that the one with the heaviest cargo can stay and the other has to get off to let it pass. Since the train only consists of 3 parts, the whole dismantling process is super quick and only takes 5 minutes max!

Battambang - Bamboo Train (3)

After 10 minutes, the train makes a stop at a small village for a while before taking you back. I read on a lot of blogs about people being molested and forced to buy stuff there before they were taken back but thankfully that didn’t happen to us and our driver was lovely!

Battambang - Bamboo Train (2)

Learn more about Cambodia’s past at Phnom Sampeau

Phnom Sampeau is a hill on the outskirts of Battambang that is famous for a very cruel part of Cambodia’s recent history. It is home to the Killing Caves were the Khmer Rouge killed thousands of people.

Battambang - Phnom Sampeau (1)

Walking down the path to the cave really gives you the chills. There is a small temple in the cave now where people come to pray for those they’ve lost here. Experiencing the deep cave almost made me sick since the killing methods of the Khmer Rouge were incredibly cruel. Something you will be reminded of in a lot of places in Cambodia.

Battambang - Phnom Sampeau (11)

Further up the hill is a beautiful Bhuddist temple that provides a great view of the nearby countryside.

Battambang - Phnom Sampeau (8)

The temple area is huge and the temples are fairly new, yet they are one of the most impressive I’ve seen in Southeast Asia. Mainly because of the area and the history of the hill it’s located on.

Battambang - Phnom Sampeau (6)

In the evening light, the golden roofs are almost glowing!

Battambang - Phnom Sampeau (4)

Getting to the top of the hill can either be done by foot which gets very exhausting! Or, like us, you can get a motorbike. We each got on the back of a motorbike with a Cambodian guy for a few dollars and it was insane!

Battambang - Phnom Sampeau (5)

The hill is insanely steep and going downhill I was basically sitting on the back, holding on for my life and praying to make it down alive! It was a ton of fun though and I’ve never laughed so much in my life!

Battambang - Phnom Sampeau (7)

See the Bat Cave

Apart from the Bamboo Train, the most well known attraction of Battambang is the Bat Cave at the bottom of Phnom Sampeau! It’s best to make your way there around 5:30 pm to secure a good spot!

Battambang - Bat Cave (1)

At 6 pm sharp you will start to see thousands of bats flying out in a stream to get to the nearby fields for their dinner. Whilst that might not sound all that interesting, seeing it live is a mesmerizing experience you will never forget!

The whole spectacle goes on for approximately half an hour and as you make your way back to the city, you’ll still see the bats flying across the fields.

Battambang - Bat Cave (7)

Explore Rural Cambodia

We had hired a tuk tuk driver for a full day, starting with a countryside tour early in the morning. He first took us to Wat Ek Phnom, a complex that holds a modern pagoda (pictured below) and ruins of an ancient hinduist temple from the Angkor Area.

Battambang - Wat Ek Phnom

The modern temple is very colourful with hand paintings all over the ceiling and beautiful statues are found in every corner!

Battambang - Wat Ek Phnom

Our driver also stopped when we were passing through a small village were women were making fresh rice paper. I’d seen the process before in Vietnam, but in this village, every house seemed to be making rice paper!

Battambang - Rice Paper Making (2)

One women kindly invited us in and showed us how she made the rice paper and we had some delicious summer rolls there!

Battambang - Rice Paper Making (1)

 The Round Up

Where to stay:
I’d highly recommend the Here Be Dragons Hostel, run by two lovely British expats. It’s really cheap, well-maintained and the food there is really good!
What to eat:
The Riverside Balcony Bar serves fab pizza and has delicious cocktails on their menu!
What to do:
Take a wild ride on the Bamboo Train, see thousands of bats flying out of the Bat Cave & explore the countryside and the beautiful temples of the area!

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10 thoughts on “Bats, a Bamboo Train and Rural Life in Battambang

  1. So many unique tips, I loved this post! The bat cave kind of freaks me out, not going to lie (ha!) but I love all the different photos and details you put into this little guide!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Destinations off the beaten track always come up trumps in my books… No exception here! It looks stunning, I’ll never get over the beauty of the temples from this part of the world either, even in this little place their breath-taking

    Liked by 1 person

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