Approximately 6km North of Battambang is one of the ancient temples in the area which pre-dates Angkor Wat but is rarely visited by tourists – Wat Ek Phnom. If you make this journey, the combination of the new modern Buddhist temples and the ancient Hindu temple will not disappoint.
How to get to Wat Ek Phnom
Hire a Tuk-Tuk to get you from Battambang to Wat Ek Phnom. You can message me for the details of Bith Pikhun who was my fabulous driver. Also it’s possible to order a driver through the PASS App (GRAB App doesn’t seem to work in Battambang at the moment – time of writing January 2020). The journey is about 20 minutes.
Arriving at Wat Ek Phnom
When you arrive at Wat Ek Phnom you will need to pay your $1 entrance fee at the booth. There are then 3 main parts to the complex that you will want to see – the Big Buddha, the Modern temple and the old Wat Ek Phnom temple ruins.
Ek Phnom Big Buddha
The 28m high Buddha is a contemporary addition and is surrounded by standing Buddha statues either side.
Wat Ek Phnom modern Buddhist temple
You will walk through a beautiful more modern Buddhist temple to get to the old temple ruins. You can enter the Vihara (prayer hall) but remember that it is a practising place of worship. Observe silence inside, remove your shoes and cover up before entering and don’t point your feet towards Buddha.
Wat Ek Phnom Ancient Ruins
When you come out of the back of the modern temple you will see the ancient Hindu temple ruins directly ahead. It’s an Angkorian Hindu temple built in the 11th century under the rule of king Suryavarman I.
You can climb up to it and go inside some parts of the ancient temple. It has some level of support and restoration. There are smaller more modern ‘mini-shrines’ around the temple grounds which are nice to look at.
Where to stay in Battambang
Battambang Accommodation Low Budget
If you are on a shoestring budget and happy to hostel it then stay at ‘The Place’. This backpackers jaunt has friendly staff and a great roof terrace with cheap beer and food. They do fabulous planned tours – I had a fantastic day trip to the Battambang Bamboo train and Phnom Sampeau for just $5 sharing a tuk-tuk with three other travellers. A major benefit of The Place is that it’s right next door to the Mekong Express office so perfect for onward bus travel.
Battambang Accommodation Mid Budget
If you have a mid-range budge and don’t mind staying a little outside Battambang centre, I recommend a stay at the beautiful Home Stone Resort. This 3* hotel boasts modern decor with ornate furnishings. Enjoy a dip in the outdoor pool or catch up on emails in the business centre. If you’d like something a little closer to the night market, go for the Jasmine Hotel and Sky Bar.
Battambang Accommodation Luxury
For a touch of luxury in Battambang go for Maisons Wat Kor – boutique hotel in Wat Kor village with an outdoor swimming pool and massage services. If you want a lavish room with a personalised service – head to Bri-a-Brac. With just three rooms, you will surely be looked after!
What to Pack for Cambodia
Take light cotton tops, long comfortable trousers and maxi dresses that cover your shoulders. Thailand is a conservative Buddhist county and you are likely to be refused entry to top sites like the Phnom Penh Royal Palace and Angkor Wat with shoulders showing and shorts or short skirts. You can pack shorts and vest tops for hanging around your hotel or the pool.
Pack a water bottle because many guest houses are eco friendly and have a refill and reuse policy to cut down on plastic waste. The drinking water is fine and many hotels supply cold purified drinking water.
Bugs bite particularly in the evenings in Cambodia and so a bug repellant is essential. Also the sun can get hot – this Christmas and New Year temperatures were exceeding 32 degrees and so sun screen is another essential.
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is so important as it will help you with emergencies and unexpected costs on your trip. Make sure that you declare any pre-existing health conditions so that you are covered for those. Check your cover for accidents and medical care and also lost baggage or getting things stolen. Remember to report as soon as something goes wrong on your trip because some travel insurance companies require you to report something that you want to claim for within 24 hours. Read the fine print carefully when you sign up. I always recommend World Nomads. You can get a free quote here:
Further Reading on Battambang
Phnom Sampeau is one of the most spiritual places to visit in Battambang where you will see the Battambang Killing cave and Wat Sampeau on the mountain top. You might also like to read about the Battambang Bat caves – this was one of the most amazing wildlife experiences in Cambodia.
You should totally ride the Battambang Bamboo train while you are there – it’s such a fun experience going 30mph on this little train along just one track. When you approach another train head on, the drivers unload the lightest loaded train and everything on it – including the wheels!