Population: 1 milion
Vibe: Battambang manages to avoid an overly touristy vibe, and remains a perfect place to experience a more local side of life in Cambodia.
Must Do: Visit The Bat Cave, where you can see hundreds of fruit bats flying out in an impressive stream for almost an hour at sunset.
Known for: Being the leading rice-producing area in Cambodia. Not known for: being the second biggest city in Cambodia. Yep - believe it or not, Siem Reap isn’t the second biggest city after Phnom Penh - it’s Battambang!
Top things to see and do in Battambang
There are quite a few ancient temples nearby, as well as historical sites from the Khmer Rouge era. Start your day exploring Wat Banan (also known as the mini-Angkor Wat) and Phnom Sampeu, which is a former killing cave network for the Khmer Rouge, now home to a moving memorial monument.
Sunset is the best time to visit The Bat Cave, where you can see - no, not Bruce Wayne - hundreds of fruit bats flying out to find their dinner.
Battambang Homestay Experience
On the Stray tour, you’ll also get a chance to experience a rural Cambodian lifestyle in our homestay, which takes place 20kms from Battambang.
After driving from Siem Reap, we stop at a lake just outside of Battambang town. It’s the perfect spot for a yummy local BBQ or picnic (included) in the shade of a bamboo hut on the tree lined shore. There’s time to go for a refreshing swim or kayaking on the lake, or hang out in a hammock on shore and soak up the views of the nearby rice paddies and native bush. Then we make our way to tonight’s village stay. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with local villages to learn about their community life, including their festivals, farming practices and educational practices. This is one of the most rewarding parts of our tour, as you get to visit places that other groups won’t go to, and talk with villagers directly.
After an afternoon exploring the village you'll have an authentic, traditional Cambodian meal with your homestay family where you'll try local foods, such as Spring Rolls, and Amok (fish curry). After the meal, you'll have the opportunity to try the local evening drink – home brew whiskey, with snake blood. Definitely an acquired taste, and by no means compulsory!
You can choose whether you'd like to take a western style warm shower, or a traditional bucket shower before we all hit the sack in a large upstairs room. Each comfortable bed has a mosquito net over it and is underneath a fan. Sleep well! We'll have breakfast with our hosts before we leave early the next morning.
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