Artistic heritage, stunning architecture & hip hotels & bars make Battambang Cambodia’s most stylish destination
The Lowdown on Cambodia's Capital of Cool
The charming town of Battambang in the North East of Cambodia has once again emerged as the home of the Cambodian arts scene. Step back in time to the 1960s and Battambang is where psychedelic rock & roll singers would congregate and have their jam sessions. Today Battambang is Cambodia’s funkiest and coolest city. It has become famous for being the epicentre of the arts and is the birthplace of the world famous Phare Ponleu Selpak, an NGO performing and visual arts college. The Phare Circus now has a permanent tent in Siem Reap, however there is nothing as magical as attending a circus performance at the smaller and original tent at the actual college. There are some great art galleries scattered through Battambang that exhibit incredible works from the up & coming young artists of Cambodia.
Adding to the charm of this bohemian little township is some of the best preserved colonial architecture in the country. The Stung Sanke river runs through the heart of the city and the banks are dotted with super cool open air restaurants and beer gardens. Exciting developments are in progress to protect the charm of Battambang, which is currently going through the process of being UNESCO Heritage listed. Join Khiri on our very own designed and created architectural walking tour that weaves and winds through the small streets.
Battambang is surrounded by some breathtaking countryside that is lush and dense, and a popular way to soak up the beauty of the region is to cycle. Cambodia is not famous or known as a winemaking nation, however in Battambang you will find Prasat Phnom Banan Winery. Their vines were imported from Australia, and they produce a pleasant tropical fruit-infused rice wine. One of the more unique products grown in the Battambang area are the green oranges – they are green on the outside but bright orange on the inside and have a distinctive and delightful sweet taste.
On the hip and cool street No.2 you will find the exquisite Miss Wong cocktail bar, where you can step back in time to Shanghai in the 1930s for a handcrafted cocktail. Miss Wong is adorned with Chinese antiques that were all sourced from Cambodia and its overall design and ambience is simply incredible – perfect for Instagram!
Also on Street No.2 you will find the best restaurant in town, Jaan Bai which means rice bowl. This restaurant was established as a social enterprise project by Cambodia Children’s Fund, and acclaimed Australian chef David Thompson was instrumental in setting it up. Jaan Bai serves a wonderful selection of truly unique and delicious modern Khmer and fusion dishes.
Our favourite place to stay in Battambang is the delightfully tasteful Bambu Hotel, ideally situated a stone’s throw from the heart of town. The rustic rooms are just perfect and the hotel boasts a great pool and also a very popular restaurant and bar.
Battambang is only a 2.5 hour drive from Siem Reap, or you can now also catch the slow train from Phnom Penh. It’s the hippest and coolest city in Cambodia and should not be missed when you visit the Kingdom of Wonder!
In 2005, John Black found his passion for the world of travel and hospitality through his work as a tour leader. He moved to Cambodia in 2008, with more than 16 years of experience in the industry, John leads Khiri Cambodia and Laos with affection and understanding of the local cultures. As an inquisitive cook and a cuisine enthusiast, John loves to eat at the local street food vendors and visit local markets for the freshest ingredients available.