Battambang – an endlessly artistic and historic town

I have been to Battambang many times more than for professional missions than personal or family trips. Although less touristic than its neighbor Siem Reap, the provincial town itself counts probably more colonial and traditional buildings than any other provinces. In this post, you are going to explore some of these legacies through my personal discovery and research.

Buddhist Pagodas

Of all the provinces in Cambodia, Battambang counts the most long-standing pagodas such as: Wat Samrong Knong (1707), Wat Keo (1772), Wat Sangker, Wat Kandal, Wat Pothiveal, Wat Piphi Thearam, Wat Kampheng, Wat Kor, What Chheu Khmao, Wat Dramrei Sar, Wat Balas, Wat Sophy. And I have been lucky enough to visit these latter monasteries on my last trip there. Once inside, you’ll find their motifs different or even more refined than others you have been to. Needless to say, most famous Cambodian oldies relate to those pagodas, as souvenir spots!

Front of Wat Balas

Traditional Houses

Battambang is also known to host some of the oldest Cambodian houses to date, as pointed out by True Cambodia. The main attraction there in Wat Kor village refers to the traditional one used formerly by NOUN Chea, Brother Number 2 in Khmer Rouge regime. You can locate them mostly North of this small town. On the bright side, even then-famous female singers like Pen Ran and Ros Sereysothea, were born in that traditional province. By “traditional” here, I meant a Cambodian housing style for a then-and-now upper-class families, with the walls mostly made of wood and roofs decorated with regular geometric tiles.

Ancient House, Battambang, Angkor Tourism Cambodia
Traditional house formerly owned by NOUN Chea in Battambang

Colonial Buildings

Once considered an important administrative town by the French Protectorate, Battambang still boasts colonial architecture across its urban landscape. The most iconic one is the Provincial Municipality, maintaining virtually its authentic state from the foundation date. For such discovery, I encourage to explore administrative offices of this town on your half-day tour. Do not forget to drop by the provincial railway station or hop in a lorry!

Main hall of Battambang Municipality

Movies Shot in Battambang

Thanks to these historic sites, a great number of movies have been shot in Battambang. The most outstanding one was “First They Killed My Father“, directed by Angelina Jolie for Netflix, with most scenes taking place over there. The latest local one, in which I have been personally involved in, is “Karma“, a horror movie set in the 1960s. I believe such classic settings will bring about some nostalgia among our Cambodian audience. The sets not only look convincible to the eyes, but also draw us into the stories to uncover another dimension of our lives.

On set, as an extra role in “Karma” movie!

So you are feeling hooked already? If not yet, I encourage you to study this province further because even some expats decide to settle down there instead of Siem Reap. If you have already been there, come again and explore other sites than you already knew. Be then prepared to expand your perception of what Battambang has to offer you!

Would You Like a Comedy-Horror or an Action-Horror?

So far, horror has never been my favorite genre! Currently working at PuPrum, I’ve made it a habit to explore more about Cambodian movies, although inclined to scary elements. The last two I watched were: Girl is Like That (សំខាន់អូនស្អាត) and Dead Vacations (វិស្សមកាលមរណៈ). I personally found them just above average. You may wonder why? Let’s find out below…

Girl is like that posterDead vacations poster

Girl is Like That – When you got on the first part of this horror-comedy, you’d feel like you follow a series of funny scenes of a group of students. So I had a hard time digesting the core story till I got to the big picture. Its ending turned out interesting with two unexpected twists. The first one is on who really died in the final murder. The second one is on the intention of the lead actress on the lead actor. The production seemed to also launch a great attempt to cast few celebrities in it. Guess what, they perform somehow better than their Cambodian colleagues I’ve ever seen! This proves Cambodia still counts lots of talents out there who need tapping into.

Dead Vacations – I’m not sure if the actors performed poorly or the director didn’t spend enough time polishing their acting. The production purposely cast leading big movie stars like Tep Rindaro and Chan Daraty. Yet, their parts didn’t go well with those of their juniors! Some dialogs sounded redundant with the obvious images or unnecessary repetition from previous actors. This seemed to go hand in hand with limited editing and sound effects. Would you need to hear Pin Peat music while showing an actress already seated in a praying room? I guess you would, if it was outdoors! This horror-adventure implies, though, meaningful morales about antique preservation and adventurous friendship.

Ratings: 06.5/10 and 06/10