Photo: Hilltop pagoda views outside Battambang.

Bamboo train

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Unfortunately in late 2017 work commenced on tearing up the rail lines in preparation for laying track for the new rail line between Phnom Penh and Battambang—this means it is no longer possible to use the bamboo train. Perhaps, when the new line is in, something will reappear, but for now it is not possible. We’re keeping the following just for the memories!

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Forever under threat of extinction, this unusual, and thrilling, way of catching a glimpse of the gorgeous Battambang countryside is known locally as a norrie, or nori, or nory. It’s a “train” made of a bamboo platform set on two sets of bogies with a small motor stuck on the back. They used to be powered by long poles (Venice-style), but that was clearly simply not terrifying enough.

OHS was a bit of an afterthought.

OHS was a bit of an afterthought.

A wooden stick does serve as brake and accelerator though. There’s a mat laid on the wooden platform—the ‘deluxe’ versions come with cushions (tuk tuk drivers may let you use the tuk tuk cushions) — and passengers sit cross-legged on the mat.

When the road to Phnom Penh was upgraded, making it a five-hour or so ride, the 16-hour (on a good day) train services more or less ceased operating but locals continued to use the existing tracks for goods and passengers as a means of accessing Battambang town and its markets from outlying villages. Locals quickly caught on that they had an excellent, ready-made tourist attraction but plenty of villagers do still use it.

When two meet, one is disassembled to let the other pass.

When two meet, one is disassembled to let the other pass.

Tourists tend to favour early morning and late afternoon ‘departures’ when it’s not so hot (the trains have no roof)—the latter time can get very busy in high season. Rides usually take you to the first ‘station’ down the line where drinks and T-shirt vendors await or perhaps to a strategically located bridge for watching the sun set over paddy. Your ride will take 10 minutes or so each way and drivers are happy to wait for you for a dollar tip. Note the line heads southeast out of town, so you more or less have to do the return trip since there’s not anything to combine it with. It may look like an accident waiting to happen but we must have done it over 30 times without seeing any incidents — so while it’s not as bad as it looks, it’s still a good idea to ask them to drive slowly.

The trains are limited to a maximum of four passengers and currently charge $5 per person.


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Battambang.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Battambang.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Battambang.
 Read up on how to get to Battambang, or book your transport online with Camboticket.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Battambang? Please read this.
 Browse the web securely while travelling with TunnelBear. Try with a 7–day free trial.

See below for more sights and activities in Battambang that are listed on

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Battambang? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Cambodia.

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