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Throughout its colorful life, the northwestern city of Battambang has been, alternately, a trading city of the Thai, the Khmer, and finally, the French. Its rich history is well-reflected in its streets, which sport a fascinating mix of eastern and western architecture, from elaborate temples like Wat Ek Phnom and Wat Banan to quaint, French buildings. Stroll the pleasant avenues, which harken back to the bygone days of French rule, or explore the surrounding countryside for a glimpse of rural life in Cambodia.
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Our General Manager Victoria Hilley loves the beautiful pink sandstone carvings of Banteay Srei temple, near Siem Reap.
Explore the streets and visit the French storefronts that line the riverbank and can lend a slightly disoriented feel — a hint of Europe in the heart of Southeast Asia.
Go to an authentic Khmer Boxing match, a martial art handed down from father to son for almost a thousand years. Have a Cambodian beer afterwards with the boxers and learn about their passion for the sport.
Wat Ek Phnom
Go see Wat Ek Phnom, an 11th-century temple ruin set along the Stung Sangker River, surrounded by lush green fields in an agrarian community. Along the way, visit a fascinating crocodile farm, which sees few tourists, and marvel at the fierce amphibians.
Visit the temple complex perched atop a limestone hill, Phnom Sampeau. A small group of brightly painted shrines and a temple, including a large reclining Buddha, occupy the summit. Sadly, the complex was used as a prison by the Khmer Rouge during Pol Pot’s regime, embodying the contradictions of Cambodia’s peaceful traditions and brutal recent history.
This 10th-century temple is of roughly the same period as Angkor Wat, and locals often call it “Little Angkor.” A somewhat steep climb of several hundred stairs leads to the top of a plateau with beautiful views, and crumbling temple towers which still have some of their carved friezes and lintels.
Consisting of a wheeled, bamboo platform powered by a gasoline engine and running along Battambang’s old railroad lines, the Bamboo Train is a fun, easy way to see the surrounding countryside. The scenery along the route is picturesque and pleasant, and the line terminates at a series of local shops selling refreshments and trinkets.
This 6-day luxury journey through Cambodia takes you through Phnom Penh, Battambang, and Siem Reap. You’ll visit heart-wrenching memorial sites like the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Museum, ride the famous bamboo train, and of course, visit the unforgettable Angkor Wat temples, all while staying in luxurious hotels.
Set in an historic 1930s French colonial villa that has previously played host to both the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese army, La Villa is beautifully located on the riverbank in the centre of Battambang. Decorated with antique art deco furniture and photographs of the colonial era, La Villa is a real slice of history and offers seven charming guest rooms as well as a pool, bar and restaurant.