Battambang isn’t a city known for nightlife, but there are a few spots that are pleasant places to enjoy a drink.
Friendly shophouse cafe-bar Buffalo Alley aims to attract a young backpacker crowd, with 50-cent Angkor drafts during the 4–7 p.m. happy hour and the American TV series “Friends” playing all day in the karaoke lounge upstairs. But the pretty fairy lights strung along the ceiling and charming hand-painted decor suggest that the place has higher aspirations. Along with beer and standard cocktails, the cafe serves staple traveler snacks like fried rice and spring rolls and is also open for breakfast. Sit at the table outside and watch the kids playing on sleepy Street 1.5, or join the welcoming crowd at the large wooden communal table inside. Formerly Aussie-owned, Buffalo Alley is now run by the team behind Butterfly Tours.
Lotus Bar and Gallery (see the full review in the Where to Eat section) stays open (relatively) late and serves a range of cocktails, wine, beer, and cider. The art gallery, bar, and restaurant is a gathering spot for local expats and visitors, with a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. They also have movie nights twice a week; on Thursdays they show documentaries and on Saturday nights, feature films.
Another enterprise from the local family who brought the Smokin’ Pot restaurant and cooking school to Battambang, Smokin’ Pot on the Rooftop is a newly opened rooftop bar that serves a standard array of cocktails from a bamboo bar under a thatched roof strung with colorful fairy lights. Stroll up Street 119 until you spot the illuminated upside-down umbrellas swaying in the evening breeze four flights above the quiet street. On the lower floors of the building is a backpacker hostel. But don’t get the wrong idea — the chatty owner is clear to point out that despite its name, the bar doesn’t sell anything to smoke on its rooftop.
Riverside Balcony Bar used to be Battambang’s only real bar. Located in a traditional Cambodian wooden house over the Sangker River, it’s one of the nicest places in town to stop for a sundowner. The bar has adopted a friendly home-away-from-home vibe, and it’s a place where expats, locals, and tourists gather to connect and relax after a long day of work or sightseeing — if you’re looking to meet people, Riverside Balcony is a good place to do it, and the food is delicious to boot. The drinks menu offers a good selection from draft beers and house wines to some creative cocktails as well as a selection of whiskeys. Happy hour is from 5 to 7 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. on weekends. Be sure to arrange a tuk tuk home, as it’s a bit far to walk at night and once you’re there it can be hard to find transportation.
Here Be Dragons also has a popular bar where you’ll find backpackers from around the world hobnobbing with Battambang’s younger expats. Happy hour is from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and they serve $0.75 Anchor draft and $2 cocktails. They have quiz night on Wednesdays and BBQs on Saturday nights.The bar is cheap and friendly, and while the crowd on most nights seems more backpacker than expat, you can still get a $7.50 jar of Pimm’s or a $7 Anchor beer tower and make a few new friends.
Vintage Wine Bar Mezze strikes a low-key Europe-meets-Indochina vibe, with cool white-and-red tiled floors, comfortable cushioned seating, and large mirrors over the wooden bar. On arrival, you’ll be presented with a kind of wholesale menu of Cambodian products — rice wine, palm sugar, and the like — but the bar is stocked with well-chilled international wines, all reasonably priced by the glass or bottle, and paired, delightfully, with small baguette toasts topped with compound butter.
Madison Corner is a popular expat hangout known for cheap drinks and good times. The food gets mixed reviews, but everyone agrees that it’s a fine place to enjoy a pitcher of beer or a glass of pineapple palm wine. At their daily happy hour, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m., they serve $1 beer, pastis, and spirits. They’re open from 7:00 a.m. until midnight and often stay open later if they have enough customers.
Open daily, 7:30 a.m.–12:00 a.m.
T: 097 442 3896
Lotus Bar and Gallery
53 Street 2.5, Battambang
T: 092 260 158
Smokin’ Pot on the Rooftop
Street 119 at Street 104, across from Tomato Guesthouse
Riverside Balcony Bar
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 4:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
465 Street 1 (near Street 149), Battambang
Here Be Dragons
Street 159D, overlooking Sar Kheng Park, Battambang
T: 089 264 895
Vintage Wine Bar & Mezze
Open daily, 9:00 a.m. to midnight
84 Street 2.5 Battambang
T: 092 335 400
Street 2.5, Battambang
T: 53 650 2189
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