Battambang is Cambodia’s second most populous city, and is especially popular with visitors interested in Cambodian history. Established as a trading center in the 18th century, beautiful Battambang is home to wonderful examples of French-Colonial architecture, ornate temples, peaceful pagodas and scenic villages. The town has many Angkor-style temples and Buddhist shrines. Statues, mostly of animals and gods, can be found in most public places, the most famous of which is an ancient Khmer king that is located on the road to Phnom Penh. The Central Market also is worth a visit.
There's something about Battambang that visitors just love. Forget the fact that there's really not all that much to do in the city proper: the colonial architecture teetering into genteel disrepair, the riverside setting, the laid-back cafes – they all make up for it. It's the perfect blend of relatively urban modernity and small-town friendliness.
Outside the city's confines, meanwhile, timeless hilltop temples and bucolic villages await. Not to mention the most scenic river trip in the country, which links Battambang with Siem Reap.
That Cambodia's best-known circus (the magnificent Phare Ponleu Selpak) is here is no coincidence: the city has an enduring tradition of producing many of Cambodia’s best-loved singers, actors and artists.