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Battambang is technically the second-largest city in Cambodia, but it feels like a laid-back, sleepy burg. Filled with lovely colonial buildings and surrounded by Angkorian temples, Battambang has a unique small-town appeal that hasn’t seemed to have caught on with tourists yet. That said, the infrastructure is lacking, there’s no nightlife, and don’t count on being able to buy your favorite foreign food products in a town this small.
One of the last holdouts of the Khmer Rouge, the city is now home to a population of a quarter million, but it feels much, much smaller. Battambang doesn’t have a lot of expats, but there’s a fair-sized French population in town. Retirees and Phnom Penh expats looking for a place to dry out or a quieter existence love the place.
Ownership of the town has passed between the French, the Thais, and Cambodia for hundreds of years, and the influence of all three is significant. In addition to the French colonial buildings, you’ll find a number of French and French-influenced restaurants in town, as well as excellent Thai food–the city is a major trading partner with Thailand. There are also several cooking schools in town offering lessons in Khmer and Thai cuisine.
This is an excerpt from Move to Cambodia: A guide to living and working in the Kingdom of Wonder. To learn more about 100+ topics that pertain to Cambodia expats, please consider buying the book.