Battambang is Cambodia's second most populous city, and a popular tourist destination due to the many nearby places of interest.
Battambang is known for its statues which seemingly decorate every public place. Most are of animals (mythical and real) and divinities (also mythical and real?) The most famous of these statues is on the main road in from Phnom Penh and is of an ancient Khmer King holding a stick which he used to quell rebellions in the Battambang area. The name of the town / province comes from this legend.
The town also has a number of fine colonial buildings along the river including a very grand French era governors residence. Wander around the market and sample local dishes.
Take a ride on the bamboo train (the "norry"). Ask a motorbike or tuk-tuk driver to get you there. Do combine the trip to catch a bamboo train with a visit of the countryside.
There are several opportunities to explore villages just south of Battambang. The Cultural village of Watkor, just a few km south of the town center has several "ancient wooden houses" from the early 20th century. Further south are the agricultural villages of Kompong Seyma and Ksach Puoy.
A few other highlights around Battambang are:
- Phnom Sampeu, a hill with the killing caves of the Khmer Rouge, a few Buddhist caves and a monastery with two Stupas on the hilltop. Entry is US$2, covering also Wat Banan.
- Wat Banan, the so-called mini-Angkor wat, an impressive flight of stairs leads up to a dilapidated Angkor-type temple which is still in use as a buddhist shrine.
- Wat Baydamram, a temple, where hundreds of fruit bats live in trees under the protection of the monks.
- Wat Ek Phnom, another Angkor-type temple ruin, about 15 km north west of Battambang. The road goes alongside lovely small rivers bordered by trees and small villages and is in general a very nice area. Approaching Wat Ek Phnom you suddenly encounter a giant buddha statue in the wat. The grounds of the Wat also have an Angkorian era temple which is in relatively good shape and with some interesting carvings.
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