Walking ‘heritage’ tours take in wats, markets and colonial buildings in town while some of the cycling options take you to Phnom Sampeou, Wat Banan or Wat Ek, stopping at villages on route. This is a great way to visit the area’s sights while taking in the magnificent local scenery at a leisurely pace.
Butterfly Tours are well organised and get good reviews. They offer afternoon walking tours for $5 per head during high season only, plus a morning bike trip to Phnom Ek for $13 or afternoon option to Sampeou for $11. Both include bike hire, English-speaking guide, snacks, water and hotel transfers, so they are a jolly good deal. Other outfits running similar tours include Battambang Bike and Soksa Bike, who say all proceeds go towards supporting local communities.
For walking tours you can also try Butterfly Tours, which offer heritage tours around town during high season only for $5 per head. Most of these trips are led by local university students, so they have plenty of enthusiasm for showing off their home town to visitors as they practise their English and earn a bit of pocket money. They are not necessarily very professional but certainly you’ll have a lot of fun and they are highly informative. Several other operations offer walking tours and again your guesthouse or hotel can point you in the right direction, find guides or a bicycle for you or arrange an organised tour.
An interesting initiative organised by Visit Battambang are ‘cyclo’ or rickshaw heritage tours of town, which come with taped audio guides. For $13 per person you’ll get an English-language audio tour plus the rickshaw and driver for 2.5 hours.
Another way to approach that might be to download the architecture tour maps created by Khmer Architecture Tours, Ka Tours. There are two maps, one for south Battambang and one for the centre of the city, which were created with the specific aim of highlighting and preserving Battambang’s architectural heritage. This heritage has been recognised by UNESCO, as a result of which Battambang should soon be listed as a Heritage City. This has unfortunately sparked a bit of a rush by developers to knock down some stunning buildings while they still can. Hopefully, time will run out on them soon. The maps are free to download.
Battambang Bike: Road #2, Battambang; T: (098) 830 868, (0985) 578 878.
Butterfly Tours: Road #2, Battambang; T: (089) 297 070; www.butterflytour.asia
Soksa Bike: Kinyei Cafe, Road 1.5, Battambang; T: (012) 542 019; www.soksabike.com
Ka Tours: www.ka-tours.org
Trails Less Travelled: T: (012) 870 993