The elegant riverside town of Battambang, Cambodia’s second largest city is located just 292km from Phnom Penh. Founded on the bank of Stung Sangker River in the 11th century, this serene town is home to several interesting historical sites. These are the Wat Ek Phnom, a temple built by Suryarvanam I in the 11th century, Wat Toul Baset which was built in the 7th century, and the Wat Poveal Museums which displays examples of Khmer arts.
Battambang is also the place to find some of the best-preserved colonial architecture in the country.
Situated near the Thai border, the town’s leading livelihood is trading in the black market. Fishing is the next top industry. Getting there is easy with three flights from Phnom Penh flying out per week. Tourists may also take the train from Phnom Penh, which leaves at 6.30 every few days and arrives at Battambang by sunset.
Things to See in Battambang
1. Barsaet Temple
Located in Ba Set village about 15km out of the provincial town, the Barsaet Temple was built in the reign of King Soriyak Varman I and is a good example of 11th century architecture. Visitors may also sit by the pond located right next to the temple for a quiet afternoon of meditation or relaxation.
2. Wat Ek Temple
Another example of 11th century architecture, the Wat Ek Temple was built in the year 1027 in the reign of King Sorayak Varman I. The temple is located at Piem Ek commune, about 14km from the town.
3. Ba Nan Temple
First built by King Ut Tak Yea Tit Tya Varman II, the construction of the temple was continued and finished by the King Jarvarman VII. The overlap of construction and royal reign has resulted in the temple adapting architectural styles from both the mid-11th and 12th centuries.
The temple is located atop a mountain at the Kon Tey 2 commune, which is about 25-kilometers away from the town passing through provincial Road No 155 along the Sang ke River. There are also two natural wells at the mountain’s valley: Bit Meas and Chhung Achey.
4. Pra Sat Snung
Three separate brick stupas may be found on a hill at the Snung commune’s pagoda area in the Ba Nan District, 22km from town. Similar in architectural style to temples built in the 12th century, the pagoda complex is further being extended with the construction of a new pagoda behind the old temple.
1. Phnom sam Puoy
A natural resort located at Sam Puoy commune about 12km from Battambang, tourists in the area may enjoy cooling off beside the resort’s three natural wells: Pkar Slar, Lo Khuon, and Ak So Pheak.
They also have a choice of mountain trails to follow for hiking and trekking on Sam Puoy mountain, Phnom Trung Moan, Phnom Trung Tea, and Phnom Neang Rum Say Sork. These mountains are mentioned in the Cambodian folk legend of reach Kol Neang Run Say Sork.
2. Boeng Kam Pinh Puoy
A popular natural resort even before the Civil War, Boeng Kam Pinh Puoy is located between two mountains: Phnom Ta Nget and Phnom Kam Pinh Puoy, at Ta Nget village, Ta Kriem Commune, 35kms from the provincial town. Bamboo-lined riversides, serene landscapes and amiable people greet visitors on their arrival at the resort.
3. Sek Sak
Located in the Treng commune of the Rotanak Mondul District some 50km from Battambang, another popular pre-Civil War resort, the Sek Sak stretches for 500 meters with different foliage, trees and bamboo line its riverbanks. Tourists in Sek Sak may also drop by other popular tourist sites near the area like Po Pus Pich Da Dong Tong and Sa Angs Peak.