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BATTAMBANG PROVINCE

battambang_02
Battambang is Cambodia's second-largest city and the capital of Battambang Province, which was founded in the 11th century. It is the former capital of Monton Kmer and lies in the heart of the Northwest of Cambodia. Until the war years, in which almost every infrastructure was destructed it was the leading rice-producing province of the country.
 
The name Battambang or Batdambang, literally means "loss of stick" referring to a legend of the Preah Bat Dambang Kranhoung (Kranhoung Stick King). The population is nowadays around 250,000 people . It's a riverside town, home to some of the best-preserved, French colonial architecture in the country.

Until recently Battambang was off the map for road travellers, but facilities have recently been improved and it makes a great base for visiting the nearby temples, such as Phnom Banon and Wat Ek Phnom, as well as the closedby villages.
 
It's a secondary hub on the overland route between Thailand and Vietnam, and if the National Highway No 6 from Poipet to Siem Reap is ever upgraded it'll become an even smaller hub. The network of charming old French shop houses clustered along the riverbank is the real highlight here, and there are a number of Wats scattered around the town.
 
The small museum has a collection of Angkorian-era artifacts, and beyond the town there's a number of hilltop temples, yet more Wats and a pretty large lake. One of the more famous hills is Phnom Sampeau (Ship Hill) with the notorious killing caves.
 
Battambang did not give way to the Khmer Rouge movement after the fall of Phnom Penh, but it's been in the centre of the ongoing government Khmer Rouge conflict ever since the Vietnamese invasion in 1979 pushed the genocidal regime out of Phnom Penh and to the Northwest. Until the surrender deal of Ieng Sary (Khmer Rouge number three man based in Pailin),Battambang was the Khmer Rouge stronghold in the region.

In the earlier history Battambang flip-flopped back and forth between Thailand (called Siam before their 20th-century renaming) and Cambodia. It's been a part of Thailand most of the time since the 15th century, with Cambodia regaining control (more specifically due the French) in 1907. The Thais grabbed it again, with Japanese assistance, in 1941 and kept the region in their camp until the World War II years in 1947.

The Allied Forces helped persuade the Thais that the region was originally part of ancient Cambodia and the world community would not take kindly to the Thais holding onto it further. Like the rest of the Northwest, there is still a lot of Thai influence apparent. The main currency is still the Thai Baht and many people are able to converse in Thai. But the area is very Khmer, with ancient Khmer ruins scattered around, and even the ways of life are much more similar to the rest of Cambodia than to Thailand.
 
Battambang city is a peaceful and pleasant place these days. The main parts of the city are situated closed to the Sangker River, a tranquil, small body of water that winds its way through Battambang Province. It is a nice, picturesque setting. As with much of Cambodia, the French architecture is an attractive bonus of the city.
GEOGRAPHY
The provincial capital of Battambang is the second largest city in Cambodia (2007 estimated population around ¼ million people). It is located in one of the biggest rice-growing areas in Southeast Asia. The average altitude of the province is around 50m. The province is bordering to the North with Banteay Meanchey, to the West with Thailand, to the East and South with Pursat and the great lake Tonle Sap. 

The country's total surface is about 11,702 sq/km with around 67.7 inh/sqkm. The city is on both the highway and railroad linking Phnom Penh with Thailand; after the outbreak (1970) of civil war in Cambodia, the Battambang-Phnom Penh road was a prime target of the Khmer Rouge insurgents, who, by capturing it, severed Phnom Penh from its major source of rice.Battambang was acquired by Thailand in 1809 and returned to Cambodia in 1907. The city has also a technical university.
CLIMATE
Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate. During the rainy season between mid-April and mid-October the Mekong swells and backs into the Tonle Sap (Great Lake), increasing the size of the lake almost threefold. Between November and April winds are less strong and there are higher temperatures (up to 35?C). General information about the climate:
 
Rainy season: June - October (<31c)
- Cool season: November- February (>26c)
- Hot season: March- May : Temperature: from 28c -35c
POPULATION
The population census in 2007 shows that Battambang is a densely populated province with male 511,378 and female 525,145 and total population of 1,036,523 people. The population density is 68 per km2, which is slightly higher than the national density of 64. The population of this province constitutes 6.9% of the whole Cambodian population. The percentage of female population accounts for 51%.
HOW TO GET THERE ?
From Phnom Penh to Battambang it's about 291km via national road number 5. It is accessable from Thailand via Pailin, Banteay Meanchey. Generally from Siem Reap to Battambang can be via air and overland. Today, there is no operating flight to this province yet at the moment.
 
Speed Boat During the rainy season, it's a good alternative to the shared taxi. The road from Siem Reap to Sisophanis is quite lousy. So therefore it's best to take the opportunity of a nice and relaxing boat trip. The dry season eventually makes this impassable as the river water level goes down. Departing from Siem Reap taking the 7 am boat, you'll arrive at Battambang about 10:30 am. The cost is around US$ 10-15 per person, depending on demand. So it's negotiable. Departing from Phnom Penh taking the 7-8am boat, you'll arrive at Battambang around 3-4pm. The cost is around US$ 16-22 per person.
 
Share Taxi Battambang to Phnom Penh 300 baht (US$ 10) Battambang to Sisophon 50 baht (US$ 1.7) Battambang to Pursat 100 baht (US$ 3.4)
 
Train The old saying goes there is no such thing as a free lunch, but in Cambodia, the old train is still free. for foreigners, that's it. However, it will just cost you some time (maybe some officers will ask you for a creative donation). The Phnom Penh to Battambang journey usually takes about thirteen to fourteen hours, if no mishaps occure. The scenery is not nearly as stunning as parts of the Phnom Penh-Kampot-Sihanoukville routes, but you certainly will get a good sampling of rural agriculture scenery.
 
Schedule: Phnom Penh to Battambang -departs between 6:20 & 7 am daily Sisophon to Battambang -departs at around 2 pm daily Battambang to Phnom Penh -departs between 6:30 & 7 am daily Battambang to Sisophon -departs between 6:45 & 7:15 am daily.
 
Motorcycle Touring Info Riding by motorcycle is the best way to see the countryside and the sights along the way. You may stop by at some pagodas or ancient temples on the national road No 5.
 
Battambang to Phnom Penh:
It's a tough but definitely doable road if you are on a motorcycle circuit tour. They are slowly (slower than an ant's pace) resurfacing sections between Battambang, Pursat and Kampong Chhnang, from which the road is then pretty fair to Phnom Penh. On the Battambang -Phnom Penh highway, daytime security is not a problem, but at night scores of military checkpoints spring up with logs being put across the road so that vehicles stop. They just want a toll fee but it's not a fun time of the day to be dealing with the soldiers as they are pretty liquored up by then. Avoid possible problems and just ride of taxi during daylight hours.
 
Battambang to Sisophon
The trip is about 64 km and takes about 11/2 hours. Battambang to Pursat is about 103 km and takes about three hours. Battambang to Phnom Penh takes about six to eight hours, depending greatly on whether you are riding yourself or in a share taxi (which mostly takes longer). The road between Battambang and Pailin is a very rough road that has only a few decent stretches -it's a lot better than it was a few years back, but that knowledge won't mean much to your sore tail-side.
 
Security is not a problem. Getting to Phnom Banan is easy-just head south on the River Road (Road1) about 20 km, which at a moderate pace should take just over half and hour. You can't miss the big hill with the temple on top, visible on the right side of the road.
 
Turn right at the dirt road that runs smack into the middle of the hill. There are drinks and snack stands near the base of the stairway going up. There is also a dirt road going to the left by the stands that you could take up, but take the stairway as the Khmers did at the time the temple was in use.It's part of the fun. A round-trip moto-taxi from Battambang is approximately 120 baht (US$ 4.5) including their waiting time.
WHAT TO SEE ?
Banteay Sat
Banteay Sat How is 105 km (2h) From Provincial Town. Historical Sites and Buildings, Location: Koh Village, Kaoh Chiveang Commune, Aek Phnom District.
 
Barsaet Temple 
Barsaet Temple is located in Barsaet Villlage, Tapoan commune, Sangke District, about 15 kilometers east of Battambang provincial town. The temple was built in the 11th century, between AD 1036 and 1042, during the region of King Suryavarman I (AD 1002-1050). This temple was seriously damaged, and only the door frame remains. Next to this temple, there is an ancient pond that is 20 meters long, 12 meters wide and 10 meters deep. It hold water year round.
 
Dang Tung
Dang Tung, Battambang is frequently accessed by leisure tourists touring the second largest city and the capital of the Battambang Province. Locally known as Phratabong, the city of Battambang is an elegant riverside town which dates back to the 11th Century. Home to few of the best preserved colonial architecture of Cambodia, the city of Battambang is also famous for its large density of natural wonders including the Dang Tung, Battambang.
 
The Dang Tung is one of the popular tourist attractions in Battambang. Located approximately 54 kilometers from the provincial town, the tourists can simply avail public transportation to cover the 3 hour journey to Dang Tung in Battambang.
 
The Dang Tung, Battambang is very popular mainly among the nature lovers as it is one of the natural wildlife preserves which is a scenic delight, impressing the tourists venturing down to its premier location at Danng Tung Village at Rattanakmundul District.
 
Tourists must remember that the summer at Battambang is very hot therefore one must plan a holiday during the winter season when the province experiences a more subtle and cooler climatic condition. One can avail one of the tour packages which include Dang Tung, Battambang in the day itinerary and offer a more hassle-free trip to the natural paradise called Dang Tung.
 
Kamping Puoy Bassin
Kamping Pouy Bassin is located between two mountains Phnom Ku or Phnom Ta Ngen and Phnom Kamping Pouy - in Ta Nget Village, Ta Kream Srok commune, about 35 kilometers west of the provincial town.This gigantic civil-engineering project was central to the Khmer Rouge?s plan to irrigate the countryside around Battambang. Tragically, the construction of the Kamping Puoy Reservoir resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Unlike the victims of S21 and Choeung Ek most of the deaths on the Kamping Puoy project were caused by malnutrition, disease, overwork or mistreatment. The deaths were in short, preventable. 

A gripping, visceral and painfully honest account of life in Battambang under the Khmer Rouge was written by Haing S. Ngor, the Cambodian doctor, actor and community worker who won an oscar for the film The Killing Fields. His book Survival in Cambodia's Killing Fields is perhaps the most eloquent account of day-to-day life during the Pol Pot period. It is laced with insights into the Khmer psyche and is ultimately a heartbreaking read. Kamping Pouy Bassin is 6meters long and 1,900 meters wide. During the rainy season the basin can hold 110 million cubic metere of water, which is used primarily for agriculture. Kamping Pouy basin is vital to this area. It is now a popular picnic site for residents of Pailin and Battambang because of its fresh air. Lotus flowers grow in the water and nearby you can buy lotus seeds to eat (they are delicious and taste a bit like sweet, uncooked peas). Takream Commune in Banan District is the nearest settlement.
 
Phnom Banan
Adapts the architecture of mid 11th century and the end of 12th century the temple was first built by king, Ut Tak Yea Tit Tya Varman II (1050-1066) and then was finally built by the king, Jarvarman VII (1181-1219). The temple is located on the top of approximate 400-meter heighten mountain at Kon Tey 2 commune, Ba Nan District in 25-kilometer distance from the provincial town by the provincial Road No 155 parallel to Sang Ke River. At the mountain's valley, there are Ku Teuk and two main natural wells, namely: Bit Meas and Chhung or Chhung Achey.
 
This Angkor-era mountaintop temple is definitely worth a look. At the top are beautiful views of the winding Sangker River set amidst sugar palm trees, rice fields and small villages. To the south you will see a mountain range that features a crocodile shaped mountain. The temple itself is beautiful looking from the ground as well as the top. The structures are pretty much intact, but unfortunately like so many Khmer ruins, they have fallen victim to massive looting. Still, there are some interesting works to see. There are five temple structures, like Angkor, with the middle being the largest. (Use caution around the entrance to the center structure-there is a large hanging block-a headache-in-waiting for some poor soul).
 
As with Preah Vihear Temple (close to the Thai border in the province of the same name), there are a couple of big guns on the mountaintop next to the ruins. The guns are still pointing down at the surrounding area as they were during the more recent years of the government-Khmer Rouge skirmishes.It's part of the sad irony of Cambodia that a place built for worship, harmony and tranquility was utilized as a place for making war. Looking down the hillside to the southwest you can see more of the ruins. As always, if you go looking around, STAY ON THE WORN PATHWAYS AND TRAILS- there may still be undiscovered landmines.
 
Phnom Trong Morn Trong Tea
Phnom Trong Morn Trong Tea, Battambang is one of the place which is filled with abundant number of flora and fauna and are well liked by the nature loving tourists in particular. This is the place which comes as one of the important tourist destination where you are going to enjoy a whole days' trip and find it to be a place to remember for a long time for its endless beauty. The place is widely popular for its rich treasure of natural vegetation. Phnom Trong Morn Trong Tea is a place belongs to the category of Nature wildlife and Preserves.

So, the adventure loving enthusiasts find the place to be of great value and arrange frequent trips to this scenic destination. The place boasts of various types of wild animals that are provided natural surroundings. The actual location of Phnom Trong Morn Trong Tea is in the region of Samnagn Village which is located in the Phnom Sampov Commune. This place is situated in the district of Banann. This place is very popular as a great spot for natural beauty. As you plan for a visit to this place during your trip to Battambang, you must start your journey in the Provincial Town.
 
There are transportation modes available for the tourists which will bring you to the entry point of the Phnom Trong Morn Trong Tea. It is approximately fifteen kilometers away from the Provincial Town and it is going to take about forty minutes to get to the actual destination. The journey is going to be a nice one filled with lots of excitement and fun. You are going to enjoy the trip if you really love to be a part of adventure trip. As you step inside the preserve area you are going to be amidst various types of wild animals in their natural habitats. It is the place which is well known for adventure and excursion trips that are arranged by various tourist agencies. The best part is that you are going to enjoy them in their natural surroundings.
 
Prasat Sneung
The Sneung temples are devided into two parts - East Sneung and West Sneung. The East Sneung temple is located in Sneung Pagoda, Sneung Commune, Banan Distric, about 22kilometers soutwest of the provincial town. The temple, constructed of bricks on a hill, is 30meters long and 20meters wide. It features three separate shrines and is similar in style to other temples built during the 12th century. Behind the temple is a newer temple.The West Sneung temple is constructed of sandstone and is located near National Road 57 (The former National Road 10)
 
River Sightseeing & Boat Rentals
Just north of the Cobra Bridge, on the west bank, you will see a lot of boats hugging he riverbank. You can hire a non-motorized small wooden boat for around 4,000 Riel, and a motorized boat (if available) for around USD5 an hour. It?s a pleasant way to wee the river life around Battambang town. There is also a boat you can take to Siem Reap for a smooth alternative to the lousy highway (see Coming and Going section).
 
Sampeou Mountain 
Phnom Sampeou is a natural site located along National Road 57 in Sampeou Commune, Battambang district, about 12Kilometers of Battambang city. Atop a 100-meter-high mountain stands a pagoda and threee natural caves: Pkasla, Lakhaon and Aksopheak. Pkasla cave is full of uprooted stones and is considered important because it is where Phnom Sampeou residents come to celebrate after a marriage. Next to Phnom Sampeou are several important mountain clusters, including Phnom Kdaong, Phnom Krapeu(The Crocodile Mountain), Phnom Trung Moan, Phnom Trung Teat and Phnom Neang Romsay Sok. All are related to the Khmer Folktale titled Reachkol Neang Romsay Sok.
 
Phnom Sampeou means 'Ship mountain' because its peculiar shape reminds of a ship. This legendary 100 metres high mountain, topped by Wat Sampeou, contains 3 natural caves, lined with Buddhist shrines and statues: Pkasla, Lakhaon and Aksopheak. Pkasla cave is full of uprooted stones and is considered important because Sampeou inhabitants go there to celebrate after a marriage. Some caves were used by the Khmer Rouges as killing caves. Skeletons of their victims still remain in the caves. The wat is approached by a flight of 700 stairs. It is not exceptional but the view is spectacular. Next to Phnom Sampeou are several important mountain clusters.
 
Phnom Sampeou rises from the rice paddys of Southwestern Cambodia to a height of only 2500 feet, by my very generous estimate. So why should it have a page here? A few reasons:First, Cambodia does not have a single mountain currently listed on Summitpost, despite the fact that Cambodia actually has some perfectly respectable mountains (including Phnom Aural, at 5,948 feet) set in some of the most ecologically unique settings on the planet. Maybe Phnom Sampeou is not the most interesting mountain in Cambodia, but it is a good start.
 
Located approximately 15 kilometers outside of Cambodia's second largest city , Battambang, Phnom Sampeou rests on the Northern end of the D'mrei Mountains (literally "Elephant Mountains"), which fall into the Gulf of Thailand to the South and connect to the Kr'vanh Mountains (literally "Cardamom Mountains") to the East. Phnom Sampeou is composed of limestone and dotted with caves, and was an important setting for battles between the Khmer Rouge and military forces in the 1980s. This legacy still marks the mountain in two ways: first is the aging anti-aircraft guns staged near the top, and second is the presence of human remains—a product of the Khmer Rouge's genodical campaigns—that can still be found in the caves in Phnom Sampeou. Not for the light-hearted, exactly, but memorable and important. Phnom Sampeou also houses two important Buddhist wats.
 
Phnom Sampeou is riddled with far more caves than you can possibly access without putting yourself in serious danger (see "red tape"). This becomes apparent at dusk, when millions—literally, millions—of small bats come bursting out of the mountain in several directions. They form a steady stream toward the countryside, where they spend the evening stuffing themselves with insects. In case this isn't obvious, you might want to leave the caves before dusk.The bats are far from the scariest thing in the caves, however. The Khmer rouge executed thousands of people on Phnom Sampeou, and many were thrown through the roof of one of the caves and left to die in the cold and dark. One example of this can be found near the summit (any of the monks can show you, although the might want a donation). Some of the bones left in the cave can be found in a cage, others are piled near the walkway. Yikes.
 
Phnom Sampeou is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the whole of Cambodia ? and looking at it, it is not hard to see why! This attraction can be found 12 kilometres southwest of the city of Battambang and is steeped in history and legend. Phnom Sampeou is a name that every Cambodian will be familiar with, largely due to the legend of Rumsay Sok that is associated with the hillside.A visit to Phnom Sampeou essentially starts with a climb of 700 steps to the top. There is also a cemented road which you can use to walk up or take a motoride to the summit. Situated on the hilltop is a beautiful pagoda that gives breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. As well as the pagoda, which was actually used as a prison and torture centre during the time of the Khmer Rouge, there are a series of shrines and statues to be found along the way. It is most likely that you will be visiting Phnom Sampeou to explore the natural caves and grottos that have taken part in one of the most horrific genocides in human history.
 
Wat Ek Phnom
Situated about 10 km north of the Cobra Bridge are the ruins of Ek Phnom. It was built during the Bayon period and unfortunately is much worse for the wear than Phnom Banan.It?s an interesting place, however, because there is a freshly constructed working temple right in front of the ruins. This temple, along with the temple ruins, is the center of holiday festivities for the people of the nearby village. They dress up in their Sunday best and have a celebration between the old and the new temples and climb all around the ruins with their families.
 
The ruins are on a very small hill so there is no workout involved in viewing them much of the temple is in shambles and was heavily looted. There are still some sitting Buddha images intact higher up on the walls. On the inside is a carving of a tug-of-war with participants tugging away on a serpent. The participants on the left have lost their heads to looters (they lost face), with the guys on the right still having their heads intact.
 
Ek Phnom is also easy to get to-just head north on the River Road (Road 1) a bit over 10 km (the road north of the Cobra Bridge snakes around a bit, but goes back to the river). As you are getting close to the temple, you will pass over a small concrete bridge. The road beyond will veer off to the right, but the modern temple is there to the left. Enter the new temple grounds and the ruins are located to the rear. Again, a round-trip moto-taxi is about 120 baht from Battambang.
 
Wat Ek Phnom is 11km from Battambang?s ferry landing by the shortest route and 21km if you go via the Pepsi plant and Pheam Ek. Combining both makes for a nice 32km circuit.
 
Wat Ek Phnom an atmospheric, partly collapsed, 11th-century temple situated 11km north of Battambang, measures 52m by 49m and is surrounded by the remains of a laterite wall and an ancient baray (reservoir). A lintel showing the Churning of the Ocean of Milk can be seen above the east entrance to the central temple, whose upper flanks hold some fine bas-reliefs.
 
Construction of the giant Buddha statue next door has been stopped by the government because, they say, it mars the site's timeless beauty. This is a very popular picnic and pilgrimage destination for Khmers at festival times.

13km north of Battambang is Wat Ek Phnom, an impressive but extremely dilapidated temple situated next to a large pond and is behind a contemporary 28m high Buddha statue. Built during the 11th century, supposedly in 1029 under the reign of King Sorayak Varman II (1002-1050), today it has been mostly reduced to ruins and visitors have to climb over fallen masonry and huge blocks of stone in order to traverse the grounds. Because of this, and its tranquil setting, Wat Ek Phnom is a must for anyone visiting the Battambang area as it actually gives you the impression that you are discovering a forgotten temple.
 
Wat Pee Pahd
Wat Pee- Pahd,Battambang is one of the cultural heritage spots of the city. The Wat Pee- Pahd,Battambang brings to the foreground the rich cultural heritage which is associated with the city. The Wat Pee- Pahd,Battambang is one of the best among the many Battambang Tourist Attractions and visited by thousand of tourists round the year. The Wat Pee- Pahd,Battambang is actually a Buddhist Temple which is situated between River Road 1 and River Road 2 in the city of Battambang.
 
The tourists who embark on Battambang Tours should keep the Wat Pee- Pahd,Battambang in their itinerary. The country of Cambodia has a strong connection with the religion of Buddhism and many of the Cambodian cities have a collection of Buddhist temples. As the tourists enter the temple they will find that the interior section is wonderfully decorate and consists of some intricately carved statues of the Buddha.
SHOPPING
Phsar Nath, In the centre of the town is the main Phsar (traditional market) and is geared to the locals, sporting the usual variety of fruits, vegetables, meat, clothes, sundries, food stalls, etc.
 
Gem dealers A couple of banks, photo shops and moneychangers line the streets that ring the Phsar. Phsar Leu, just south of town, seems to be the place to buy the local specialties: oranges and pomelos from Pursat province. The oranges are said to be the best oranges in the country. Chea Heang Drink Shop on the west side of Phsar Nath offers ice cream bars, cheeses, yogurt, wines, and other imported items.
 

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