Not exactly number one on the tourists list in Cambodia, Battambang is actually a pretty fun city to visit, offering nice scenery, plenty of stuff to do, and some killer food. Here is the Street Food Battambang guide.
So, Battambang! When it comes to things to do an places to go in Cambodia, Battambang is a bit funny. There is not the draw that Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kampot, or Sihanoukville have, but it is also no Koh Kong.
Battambang sits in that middle ground, meaning it is not too touristy, but there is enough stuff to do to keep you entertained for a few days.
Getting to Battambang
Battambang actually has a pretty strategic location, being just 3 hours drive from Poipet and Thailand, slightly over for Siem Reap and about 6 from Phnom Penh.
Yet the Phnom Penh to Battambang route is one of the most interesting in that it also offers the ability to get a train, rather than a bud. This again a 6 hour jaunt (sometimes more), but offers a scenic journey, as well as a Street Food Pursat stop a few hours before your arrival.
FYI I bloody love trains……..
What to do in Battambang……
There is not a whole heap to do in Battambang, as in there is no Angkor Wat, beaches, or the like, but there are a few things to do here. These include the Bat Cave (non related to Batman), where not only there are bats, but some crazy Khmer Rouge stuff happened.
During much of the war this place was very much a stronghold of the reds. The order thing to do that is pretty cool to do is the Bamboo Train, which I shall warrant its own article later.
Eating and drinking in Battambang
Being a slightly less developed city means that you will not find a whole heap of western restaurants here, nor even “restaurants”, with tho odd Chinese one, or Khmer BBQ establishment dominating the scenery.
Yes, there are some hotels and higher end joints, but overall the dominant food culture here is Street Food, and you will find street in Battambang for as far as the eye can see!
Bars wise it is about the same as the restaurants, with most drinking being Ganzberg, or Cambodia Beer with Battambang street food, although there do seem to be a bunch of “Sky Bars”.
Said bars are not expensive like Phnom Penh, with a Long Island Iced Tea being super strength and costing just $2.50, but to be fair it also lacks environment and atmosphere of the big smoke….
Street Food Battambang
So, lets deal with he big tasty elephant in the room, street food Battambang! During the day the city looks like a normal Cambodian one with some markets and the odd stall, but once the sun comes down the smell hits you as the street food vendors of Battambang start to hit every piece of free space in the city.
Most of the street food Battambang scene though can largely operated into two main areas, the night market (which is small) and the riverside, which is bloody huge.
Street Food at Battambang night market
In 2021 this was the place to be, but it has since moved location and seemingly shrank. It is though still the place to buy Markey type stuff, such as cheap clothes and the like, as well as the Khmer take on western food, which by the looks of things seems to mostly be pizza.
Yet while this is no longer huge, it is at least open during the day. If you need a fix.
Street Food Battambang riverside
The riverside is huge ergo the street food Battambang scene is huge, with there being some kind of method to the me madness. On the north side of the river tends to be the Khmer BBQ part, while the south side is more fish, spicy meat on a stick, weird dishes and eggs, lots of eggs.
On this trip at least I decided it was the south side I wanted, and indeed the two Battambang specialties.
These were namely, pong muan ang (ពងមាន់អាំង), which is grilled egg on a stick, that has been minority cured. This is then served with Cambodian pepper, salt and garlic. I dunno why, but the dish is frankly amazing, even if it is at its heart merely a grilled egg. I love this so much, it will get its own article.
And then there is Song Vak (សង្វាក់), which I have had in the places, but is the most famous street food Battambang dish. This has been described to me as fish cake, although there is probably a bit lost in translation. This tiny morsel of food is wrapped in banana leaf and grilled, before being served. You then open it like a Christmas present and chow down. Not overtly fishy, but a great texture and pretty spicy.
Again these two dishes can be gotten in other cities, but so far it is Battambang that has not only embraced both, but seems to have the best batch.
And the adventure was not over there, with me also finding two other absolute street food gems, well one good one and one weird one. On the good side I got to try Battambang fried chicken and fries, with the vendor asking if I wanted spicy, or not. Of course I did! This involved him putting the chicken and chips in a container of spices and shacking it. I liked his style. The fries were of the sweet potato variety and OK, but the fried chicken was some of the best I have yet to have in Cambodia.
And then there was the weird, the Battambang take on sushi, which seemed to be more about food coloring than taste. But overall the fluorescent green sushi tasted OK….
I could have tried more, I wanted to try more, but with the array of Battambang street food, it would take more than one night to get your fill.
So, the verdict on Street Food Battambang? Defiantly the most varied in Cambodia, probably not the best, but up there with the best.
Want to join me here? Check out my Cambodian Dark Tourism tour.