Banan is one of the most attractive places you must visit when you are in Cambodia. Located in Banan Village, Kantueu Pir Commune, Banan District, Battambang Province, the mountain is known as a natural and cultural site. Normally, when talking about history and culture, tourists would always think of Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. But Battambang is also another tourist attraction site that both local and foreign visitors like to visit. It is a small and peaceful city where you can roam around and enjoy a different kind of excitement.
There are many activities visitors can enjoy at Battambang. One of them is to visit Phnom Banan and a few other sites around that area. Because tourism in this province is just starting to grow, the number of visitors coming here is still growing. So if you want to experience something quiet and low-key but still want to learn about Cambodian history and culture, this is the right place for you. This article will show you some of the interesting activities you can do at Phnom Banan, as well as offer some direction and options on how to get there.
Pnhom Banan | Battambang Province, Cambodia
How to get to Phnom Banan
To get there, it will take you from 20 to 30 minutes from the city center of Battambang. You will need to head south on Route 154. Most tourists like to rent motorbikes, which will cost you around $5 to $7 per day. There are quite a few places you can easily find in Battambang city that provide this rental service. Also, you can rent a tuk-tuk to get there. The tuk-tuk drivers there can drive and guide you around the area.
Moreover, if you want to explore all the places in Phnom Banan by yourself and do not want to ride motorbikes under the heat and dust, you can also opt for renting a car. It is quite affordable and more comfortable than motorbike and tuk-tuk. Along the way, you will get to see orange and dragon fruit farms. Most importantly, you can also see a few vineries that will amaze you.
Exciting things to do in Banan
1. Enjoy the nature at the base of Phnom Banan (Banan Mountain)
Before climbing straight away to the top, you can also walk around the area and enjoy the quietness of the mountain. The ground area surrounded by nature is a great place to escape from the crowdedness of the city. Next to the base of the mountain, there is a big pond with fresh air, best suited for leisure and picnic. There are also a few restaurants that serve lunch on the overwater palapas. You can enjoy a proper lunch with beautiful surroundings. Boats are also available to ride if you would like to experience something different. Feeding the fish in the pond is also an option depending on your preferences.
What more exciting is the Sangke River in front of the gate of Phnom Banan. Across the river, there is a suspension bridge where you can enjoy the view of the river. Around this area, you will find a small village. There, you can visit and talk to farmers as well as observe the places that produce souvenirs. Also, there are souvenir stalls that you can buy the handmade products made by the locals at Banan.
2. Visit Phnom Banan Temple (at the mountain top)
A fascinating thing to do at Phnom Banan is to climb the stone stairs to the top of the mountain. The top of the hill lays one of the best-preserved ancient Khmer temples in the area. It was built during the mid 11th century with five towers, resembling with the architectural style Angkor Wat Temple. The 520 steps staircase surrounded by the jungle and wild animals gives you the best views along your way. Although it can be tiring for some people, the scenery you get to see at the top is worth it. The temple is surrounded by trees and forests, which gives you a sense of peace and relaxation. Visitors are here to experience the real and beautiful wilderness of nature.
You can also learn a lot about Cambodian architecture, culture, and history from the temple. Inside the temple, there is a deep well called Tomlak Dong Cave, which people believe to be a sacred place. They think that if you throw a coconut into the well and it comes up on the surface of the water, your wish will become true. There is also a shrine in the temple where a lot of people come and pray. People usually pray and ask for happiness, good health, and a safe trip on their way back.
After a walk around the temple, you can rest on traditional Khmer mats (Kon-tael) under big trees behind the temple. Sitting there, you can look at the spectacular view of the countryside and rice fields. The view is great for photos, especially for those who enjoy nature. In the evening, you can sit atop Phnom Banan to see the golden sunset view on other mountains. At the foot of Phnom Banan, you can enjoy the lush pastures and a sparkling view of Sangke River.
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3. Explore Preah Tek Cave (at the mountain top)
Another site to explore is the Preah Tek Cave, which is about 350 meters from the temple to the right. The cave was found about 140 years ago, and Cambodian people regard it as a sacred place in the area. People rarely go into the cave because it is very dark and cold inside. The route that leads to the dripping water is narrow that only one person can walk at a time. Near the entrance of the cave, there will be people giving you the torch for free. You can use this light to step inside the cave slowly and enjoy the view of stalactites.
Inside the cave, there is natural water dripping down from the top of the stone wall and stalactites. Cambodian people believe that if a person drinks that water, they will learn about their past, present, and future. It may just be a myth, but it is fascinating to hear about the beliefs and traditions of one culture. So exploring different places in the area will help you gain more understanding of Khmer cultures and beliefs. To exit the cave, you can walk through the forest and enjoy the view of the countryside. The cave on Phnom Banan is a mysterious and exciting adventure you should not miss out on your trip’s checklist.
4. Stop by at a traditional Pagoda
Going up or down Phnom Banan, you can stop by to visit an old traditional pagoda. It is an ancient Buddhist temple that is almost 100 years old. There, you can learn about Cambodian architecture and the arts of constructing pagoda. There are also a few elders and monks who will be happy to tell you the history of Phnom Banan here. After a long tiring journey, you can rest in the temple and listen to their story. You can get to relax and learn new things at the same time, so why not take the chance.
5. Banon Bamboo Train
Before or after climbing the mountain, another exciting thing to do is riding Bamboo trains or lorry. You can find them near the base of the mountain. The place is called Banon Bamboo Train, which offers a reasonable ticket price. The ride is about 1 hour long or less. While riding the lorry, you can observe the view of Phnom Banan’s hillside and other mountains around the area as well. The railway is built along the mountainside of Phnom Banon provides a great view of rice fields and newly-build gardens.
Moreover, the green forests will allow you to feel the breeze of nature and absorb the fresh air. At the end of the railway, you will get to see a big park with flowers, samples of houses of minority groups, and animal shape bushes. After the ride, you can take your time to have breakfast or lunch at a restaurant next to the park. Besides, you can take photos or relax on benches. Then, you will take a ride back to the station where you can buy souvenirs.
Phnom Banan is one of the best places to visit during your vacation in Cambodia. You can experience historical temples, religious pagoda, and peaceful nature all at the same time. Compared to other popular tourist attraction sites, Banan is best-suited for those who travel in a low budget. The food and accommodation are good and affordable. You will get to explore the peaceful countryside of Cambodia. Being here, not only can you visit Banan, you can also take some time to visit other amazing sites closeby. It is a place that will keep you coming back for its uniqueness and many wonderful views it can offer.