The northwestern province of Battambang is packed full of activities for the family. It is the official home of the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak. Here, visitors can take a tour of the campus, where underprivileged youngsters are taught a range of life skills, including circus, music and graphic design. Four daily tours run from Monday to Friday. Circus shows are also put on two to four nights a week, depending on the season.
One natural phenomenon sure to captivate the kids are the bat caves. Head to Phnom Sampeau about 12km from Battambang city after lunch and spend the afternoon exploring the temple that sits atop the hill. Nearby are the killing caves. This sobering site pays tribute to the many Cambodians who were brutally killed there by Khmer Rouge soldiers. Victims were pushed to their deaths through a hole in the cave’s roof.
At about 5.30pm, head to the foot of the hill where a small crowd will start gathering for the performance at dusk. As the sun starts to slip away, millions of bats stir for the night and spend about 30 minutes streaming out of the caves and into the sky for a night of hunting. A truly spectacular sight.
Then there’s the hair-raising ride on the bamboo train, a slat of wood perched atop a bamboo frame powered by a small engine that hurtles along a single track at up to speeds of 40kph (25mph).
The province is also dubbed the rice bowl of Cambodia, which means it is home to some of the country’s most stunning countryside. Battambang is relatively flat too, which makes it a prime cycling spot. Award-winning Soksabike calls Battambang home and puts on a range of sustainable biking tours throughout the province, giving guests the chance to meet villagers and enjoy a glimpse into rural Cambodian life.