Things to Know Before Visiting the Battambang Bamboo Train

The Battambang Bamboo train is one of the most unique transports around the world, let alone in Cambodia. Made famous by Jack Whitehall’s Travels with My Father, the Bamboo train has been a method of transport for rural Cambodians for centuries. This has been an easy, cost-effective way for locals to transport goods and make a living for themselves. However, since the emergence of motorised vehicles, the Bamboo train has become somewhat obsolete in transportation. Nonetheless, the locals have cleverly turned the Bamboo train into a hugely popular tourist activity in which people come from all over the world to partake in.

This guide will set out everything you need to know about the Battambang Bamboo train. From how to book to what you’re likely to experience, this article will have you covered so you know what to expect!

Disclaimer: Some of the links included on our website may contain affiliate links. We may receive some commission from purchases made via these but it will NOT affect the price you pay. This is to allow this site to stay online and ensure that readers use, what we believe, are the best products possible whilst travelling.

1. A bit about the Bamboo train in Battambang

The train tracks in which the Bamboo train is situated on were built in the 1930s by the French colonial government. The bamboo train only operates on a small section of the 386km railway which connects Phnom Penh with the town of Poipet on the Thai border. However, vast swathes of the line were left in disrepair after the Khmer Rouge regime. Nowadays, the Cambodian government is investing in railroads to restore the line in its entirety.

On parts of the track that are safe, companies continue to transport goods multiple times a day. This can make for interesting viewing if you know bamboo trains operate on these lines but a freight train suddenly zooms past at full speed!

The Bamboo train itself is a sheet of bamboo situated on top of two axles with a motorised engine on the back. Despite the simplicity, the norry, as it’s referred to locally, can travel to speeds of up to 40km per hour and you can definitely feel it!!

2. Where is the Bamboo train?

The original Bamboo train is located just outside of Battambang, a city in the northwestern region of Cambodia. Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city and is 170km away from Siem Reap and nearly 300km away from the capital Phnom Penh!

For more information on how to get to Battambang, check out our Ultimate Battambang Travel Guide!

3. How to get to the Bamboo train?

This entirely depends on the location of your hostel. However, it’s highly recommended you don’t walk as the Cambodian heat will take its toll. The best way to get to the Bamboo train is by driving your own motorbike/scooter or flagging a local tuk-tuk. If you’re unable to flag a driver, you can always use the ride hailing app Grab.

4. When to go to the Bamboo train?

The best time to visit Cambodia is between November and May. This is when Cambodia experiences low levels of rainfall so you’ll be less likely to experience the unexpected. April is an especially good month to visit as the tourist season draws to a close which makes it less busy. Do be warned that Cambodia is hot and humid all year round so make sure to pack accordingly!

The Bamboo train itself operates between 7:30am and 5:30pm. We recommend you get there as early as possible when it’s cooler, and less busy. Having said that no matter what time you go you’ll have an amazing time!

5. Are there two Bamboo trains in Cambodia? 

Yes, there are!

The original ‘old train’ is this norry in Battambang. However, the ‘new train’ occurs between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville as a result of the government repairing/installing the railways along this route. On parts of the track that have been installed, locals have been setting up a new bamboo train route.

6. How much does it cost to ride the Bamboo train in Cambodia? 

Despite being one of the best things to do in Cambodia, the Bamboo train only cost 32,500 KHR ($5) per person. The payment has to be in cash and passed over before your activity. This money does not include the cost of getting here and you will have to pay the taxi fare separately.

7. How to book the Bamboo train in Cambodia

As we were staying at the Sanctuary Villa Battambang, we were able to book the bamboo train through our accommodation. Everything was organised for us and we just needed to rock up to reception on time and that was that. Alternatively, you can choose to book this tour if your accommodation doesn’t provide this option.

8. Is the Bamboo train in Battambang safe

For the most part, yes. All you personally have to do is sit at the front and enjoy the ride. However, it gets less safe for others when you have to disembark due to another oncoming bamboo train. You won’t crash I can assure you but one train has to be moved to let the other through. When reassembling the train parts, the driver has to manually put the belt onto the moving engine which you’ll wince at.

9. What to expect from the Battambang Bamboo train 

We absolutely loved our experience and couldn’t recommend it any higher. Your taxi will drop you off at the start point where you’ll then meet the norry driver. Once the track is free and there are no oncoming freight trains, the train will be pieced together and on its way.

What first took us by surprise was the speed at which the train got to. Obviously not being used to this we had to control our breathing to make sure we could actually breathe! Nevertheless, it was one of the best experiences we had in Cambodia. It was great to be in the countryside going along and speed and watching the farms whizz by.

The time to our halfway point took 20 minutes as we had to stop, disembark and reassemble for another Bamboo train heading in the other direction. At the halfway point was a small Khmer village which was really interesting to see. We went with our driver Sam who was great as he told us loads about the history of the place including how the Chinese built canals for the region. We spent probably half an hour here learning about everything which was super interesting. If you do happen to go along with a guide, do ask them loads of questions as learning about the country was one of our favourite things to do.

It goes without saying but make sure to keep hold of the wooden bar in front of you and to keep all extremities on the train and not dangling. It’s also advisable to hold onto your hats as they will blow off!!

10. How long is the bamboo train in Battambang? 

The train ride itself takes roughly one hour. The time travelling to and from the start point depends entirely on where your accommodation is located. You do stop halfway, before turning back, at a remote Khmer village. If you’ve brought some Riel you can purchase some souvenirs, food and drink from the friendly Khmer families.

11. Where to stay in Battambang to visit the Bamboo train

$ Hostel Option: Pomme

We had a bunch of friends staying at Pomme during our time and they said nothing but great things about the place. It’s situated on Battambang Pub Street so is in the centre of the action and close to all the amenities you need. The rooms themselves are really clean and the beds are super comfy. The air-con in all the rooms is an absolute lifesaver in all of the meaning allowing you to get some well-needed rest.

The in-house restaurant also offers a wide selection of food and drink. The includes traditional western food as well as amazing Khmer cuisine cooked fresh. Whilst the hugely popular bar does shut at 11pm, there are tons of bars on the street to keep the party going. Pomme also put on a variety of activities throughout the week which is a great way of meeting like-minded people!

$$ Mid Range: Sanctuary Villa Battambang

We stayed at the Sanctuary Villa Battambang and had an unbelievable time. We loved the fact it wasn’t in the hustle and bustle of the city but it was still only a stone’s throw away. Don’t worry about getting around as the local driver for the hotel, Sam is mostly always on hand to help you get around. Sam is super friendly and one of the main reasons we enjoyed Battambang. Do contact Sam on +855 87 226 973 if you’re in Battambang and make sure to tip him!

The villa itself was so peaceful and relaxing, we really could’ve spent a lot longer here. The rooms were really well kept, the air-con was a lifesaver and the beds were super comfy. All the rooms were situated around the pool in the centre which was great to chill in after a long day exploring. There also is an onsite restaurant which is great for having breakfast to kick start your day! Overall, we absolutely loved our stay here as it felt like a luxury but without the price!

$$$ Luxury Option: Cambana La Rivière Hotel

Alternatively, if you’re looking to stay in Battambang in style then there’s no better place than the Cambana La Rivière!

As you’d expect, the best was incredibly comfy and the rooms were spotless. The pool is also a great way to relax in and around after a day of exploring. One of the highlights we’ve heard about the hotel is how excellent the breakfasts are. No matter whether you choose some fresh fruit or a traditional Khmer breakfast like Noum Kong! The staff are known for being the most friendly and helpful and they’ll always be on hand to help you with any Battambang queries.

Despite its luxury, the hotel is located very centrally and just a 10-minute walk from the city centre across the river. However, if you don’t fancy walking then tuk-tuks are always waiting outside and cost 6,000KHR ($1.5).

12. What to take to the Bamboo train

You really don’t need that much at all. We’d obviously recommend bringing your phone to take some videos and some sunglasses, suncream and a hat as the sun will be quite intense. You also mustn’t wear any open-toe shoes as there’s a lot of open machinery. Our best piece of advice however is to bring some bug spray as there are some pesky mosquitos in the countryside.

Why not check out our Top Gadgets you need whilst Travelling for further inspiration on what to bring on your travels?

13. What else is there to do in Battambang other than the Bamboo train? 

We had no idea how many different things there are to do in Battambang and we were pleasantly surprised.

One of our absolute favourites was the bat caves. A driver will take you to a small hillside below the cave entrance where you’ll perch and wait for sunset. On cue, hundreds of thousands will depart the cave and provide an endless stream of black dots flying into the distance. We were ever so lucky that the sunset was particularly beautiful when we visited which made for an incredible backdrop. However, do be warned about the significant stench of bat poo before and during as it’s borderline unbearable!

Another accessible activity is the killing caves of Phnom Sampeau. Located 7 miles outside of Battambang, these killing caves were used by the Khmer Rouge as execution sites. The horrific former regime would kill victims on the top before throwing their bodies through a hole in the roof. The best way of experiencing this awful site is with a guided tour. All the guides are incredibly knowledgeable about the site and the atrocities that happened there.

Out of all the cities we visited in Cambodia, we found Battambang to have the best atmosphere. The whole city was extremely walkable and there were tons of Western and local bars, cafes or restaurants to dip into to get out of the heat. We particularly enjoyed all its colonial buildings mixed in with the vibrant modern shops that are starting to spring up everywhere.

Make sure to check out our Ultimate Battambang Travel guide for an in-depth description of the city and more reasons why you should visit!

14. Is the Bamboo train in Cambodia worth it? 

Without a doubt, yes. You really experience a feeling like no other and it’s even more breathtaking given the country you’re in! Our Ultimate Cambodia Bucket List has a whole host of activities you should be doing to make your Cambodia trip special.

There you have it, everything you need about visiting the Battambang Bamboo train. Outlining where it is, how to get there and what the experience was like. We have no doubt that you’ll enjoy the Battambang Bamboo Train as much as we did! It really is a unique experience like no other and if you’re in Cambodia, definitely make the effort to visit Battambang as you won’t regret it!

Have you ever taken a ride on the Battambang Bamboo train or now want to in the future? Let us know in the comments below!

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Disclaimer: Some of the links included on our website may contain affiliate links. We may receive some commission from purchases made via these but it will NOT affect the price you pay. This is to allow this site to stay online and ensure that readers use, what we believe, are the best products possible whilst travelling.

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  1. Definitely adding Cambodia to my list of destinations to visit. This post was so insightful. Thank you!

    1. You really should Brittney, we loved the country. It was so different to what we’re used to which was so good!

  2. I’d never heard of the Battambang Bamboo train, but now I need to add it to my list of things to do when I visit Cambodia (one day). This sounds like a fun and unique activity. Thanks for the helpful guide!

  3. I had never heard of the Battambang Bamboo train until now but it is definitely on my list for when I visit Cambodia! Thanks for all the helpful tips!

  4. Cambodia is a truly beautiful country, rich in history, food and many unique means of seeing local communities. The bamboo train is certainly one of those unique options.

  5. We love to do different things when we travel. So you know we are going to try the Battambang Bamboo train. Good tip about planning to do the ride early in the day. We would surely love the fast speed of the train but good to be prepared in advance.

  6. This sounds like such a fun and unique experience! Will definitely have to check it out if I ever make it to Cambodia. Thank you for sharing this information!

  7. As I read this, I could imagine you sitting on the Bamboo train in Battambang listening to the stories being told by your driver. Lovely narrative! I am gonna add this to my bucket list for Cambodia.

    1. It was exactly like that Ashley! Our driver had so many cool stories we could listen to them all day. You won’t regret doing so!

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