CAMBODIA 2024: BATTAMBANG KILLING CAVES AND BATS

BATTAMBANG KILLING CAVES AND BATS

About: BATTAMBANG is an off the beaten track location which a lot of people tend to miss. Most likely because getting there involves a lengthy road trip from either Siem Reap, or Phnom Penh. For those who can put up with the lengthy road travel there’s some interesting sightseeing locations, just a few km outside the city. The highlight attraction being BAT CAVE exodus of Phnom Sampow Mountain.

The Bat Cave at Phanom Sampov Mountain. BATTAMBANG KILLING CAVES AND BATS

The Bat Cave at Phanom Sampov Mountain.

Getting there: To get to Battambang, from Phnom Penh, most people will generally take a VIRAK BUNTHAM BUS directly to Battambang (up the western side of the Tonle Sap). From Siem Reap it’s a three hour bus ride, also with VIRAK BUNTHAM (around the top of the Tonle Sap).

Accommodation: There’s plenty of accommodation options around the town center (near the river). A popular choice is the DELUX VILLA HOTEL. It’s got large, comfortable A/C rooms, and a swimming pool, but the internet connection is poor. If you need transport for tours around Battambang, the hotel staff can easily arrange it for you.

The river front: This is probably the main attraction of Battambang City. The Delux Villa Hotel is just a ten-minute walk from the river front. The river front has a developed walkway, very similar to Kampot, and a couple of bridges which connect one side of the city to the other. The walkway is a popular spot for locals exercising in the early evening. The best restaurant in the area is the FLAVOURS OF INDIA

Along the river front in Battambang. BATTAMBANG KILLING CAVES AND BATS

Along the river front in Battambang.

Battambang sightseeing: The best sightseeing attraction area is a limestone peak, called PHNOM SAMPOW, located 16 km from the city. There are several caves within this limestone peak but the two which attract the most visitors are the KILLING CAVE, and the BAT CAVE.

Phnom Sampow Mountain and the Buddhist Temple at the Top. BATTAMBANG KILLING CAVES AND BATS

Phnom Sampow Mountain and the Buddhist Temple at the Top.

Getting there: To get to Phnom Sampow, most sightseers will either rent a motorbike, or hire a tuk-tuk for the round trip. The cost for a tuk-tuk is relatively cheap, usually not more than 12 USD. NOTE: If you want an English-speaking guide, you’ll need to pay a bit extra (20 USD) for the tour.

Phnom Sampow: A visit to this site is normally just a half day tour. Most sightseers will normally give themselves enough time to visit the Killing Cave and then be in position for the highlight attraction, the Bat Cave.

The temple at the top: The platform around the temple structure provides a great vantage point for views across the surrounding plains. There’s a large cavern directly below the temple. A long stairway takes you to the bottom of the caverns. On the way you pass under a large natural stone archway before arriving at the floor area. It’s a picturesque location with high karst walls surrounding a floor area which is open to the heavens. The trail continues up the far side of the cavern and eventually leads back out to the temple.

The long stairway down to the cavern floor. BATTAMBANG KILLING CAVES AND BATS

The long stairway down to the cavern floor.

Pkar Slar Cave:  This CAVE SITE is situated approximately one hundred meters down the hill from the temple at the top. It’s the least visited of all the cave sites, simply because most sightseers only have time for the Buddhist Temple at the top and the Killing Cave before getting in position for the Bat Cave. The entry area, before you walk down the stairs, has some drinks sellers and a large Buddha Statue nearby.

The Buddhist temple on the grounds of Pkar Slar Caves. BATTAMBANG KILLING CAVES AND BATS

The Buddhist temple on the grounds of Pkar Slar Caves.

The Killing Cave: This site is 400 meters down the hill from Pkar Slar Cave. Aside from the Bat watching station, this is the most popular cave site on the peak. It has a gruesome history attributed to the Khmer Rouge.

THE KILLING CAVE VIDEO

The hole: If you’re on a guided tour, your first stop will be the “hole.” This is an opening in the cave roof where 8000 victims were pushed to their deaths, by the Khmer Rouge. If you stand at the edge of the hole the bottom of the cave is clearly visible, twenty meters below.

The Hole in the roof of the killing cave where 8000 victims were killed by the Khmer Rouge. BATTAMBANG KILLING CAVES AND BATS

The Hole in the roof of the killing cave where 8000 victims were killed by the Khmer Rouge.

The mausoleum: There’s a long stairway that takes you to the bottom of the main cave. This internal area has a mausoleum of piled up bones and skulls, which serves as a memorial to those who perished. If you’re a keen spelunker, there’s also a smaller cave on the left of the stairway, which leads down to a large room full of bats. If you’re not that keen on dark caves, then it’s probably better to give this one a miss. The access to it is down a steep set of steps. There’s no lighting in this cave so you’ll need to have your own to explore it.

The mausoleum for those who perished at the killing cave. BATTAMBANG KILLING CAVES AND BATS

The mausoleum for those who perished at the killing cave.

The Bat cave: This is the final stop on a tour of Phnom Sampov and the highlight. It’s at the base of the limestone cliff so it’s pretty much a natural progression. If you’ve started at the top, and work your way downhill, you’ll be here at the end of the day. The cliff line facing the road has some religious artwork carved into rock face. To the right of the stonework there’s a large opening along the cliff face where, once the sun is well down, millions of bats will exit from.

The bat watching station for the nightly bat exodus at Phnom Sanpov Cave. BATTAMBANG KILLING CAVES AND BATS

The bat watching station for the nightly bat exodus at Phnom Sanpov Cave.

Bat watching station: The locals have everything set up nicely so you can watch the show in comfort. Get there early (5 pm) for a front row seat, and you can enjoy a bit of barbecued chicken and a cold beer while you wait for the bats to do their thing. The bats normally start appearing between 17.45 – 18.15 pm. The variation in time depends on the time of the year. Once the sun sets, and dusk falls over the landscape, the bats will begin exiting the cave for their nightly foraging. It begins as a trickle but soon explodes into a river of bats flooding out. The exodus normally lasts about thirty minutes. It’s quite an amazing site and definitely the highlight attraction of the trip to Battambang.

Millions of bats will exit the cave once the sun sets. BATTAMBANG KILLING CAVES AND BATS

Millions of bats will exit the cave once the sun sets.

To see more on getting off the beaten track in Cambodia, check out KAMPOT

Safe travels,

Mega.

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