Battambang is the second-largest city in Cambodia. Located in the northwest part of the country, it is also the capital of Battambang province. Battambang gets its name from Ta Dumbong, a cowherd who became an emperor for a brief period using his magic stick after usurping the former king.
A giant statue of Ta Dumbong is the icon of the city, located at a roundabout in the centre. Battambang is home to Phare, the country's central institute for artists, singers and dances. The city also houses unique circus performances - brilliant storytelling combined with song, art and traditional dance forms.
The city was a leading rice producer until the war years. Battambang is less crowded, and well-maintained compared to other cities like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Despite being the second-largest city, it is an underrated destination among the tourists, who head to the capital and towards beaches after visiting the world-famous Angkor sites.
But this is changing for the last five years. Backpackers, young travellers and families are travelling in the city to experience authentic Cambodian city life consisting of colonial architecture, arts and the lack of overt commercialisation.
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Day 1: Spend the first day in Battambang exploring the prominent attractions including the temples Wat Ek Phnom and Wat Banan. Next head to Battambang Provincial Museum and then spending the evening taking a sunset boat river in the Mekong. Watch the circus performance at Phare in the night, followed by dinner and drinks in the downtown.
Day 2: Take the bamboo railway ride and later to Damrey Sor Pagoda. In the late afternoon, head to Phnom Sampeau and Bat Caves to watch the bat flying out of caves in thousands. Explore the night market back in town and enjoy dinner in one of the riverfront restaurants.