Visiting the Bat Caves in Battambang was one of my highlights of Cambodia. The main reason we actually went to Battambang was to visit the Bat Caves and I am glad we took the detour. It really is a natural phenomenon. Millions of bats flying out of a cave, with bars where you can grab a cold beer while you enjoy the view, with an incredible backdrop of the Phnom Sampeou...is there is a better way to spend your evening?
So if you are intrigued and want to visit the Bat Caves in Battambang, here is a guide with everything you need to know:
Getting to the Battambang Bat Caves
The Battambang Bat Caves are based around 12 km from Battambang. The tuk-tuk drivers will know exactly where you need to go when you mention the bat caves. If you are visiting Battambang Bat Caves independently (without being on a tour), then taking a tuk-tuk is a quick and cheap way to get there, taking around half an hour.
So how much does a tuk-tuk cost to get to the Battambang Bat Caves? I suppose the first questions is how good are your negotiation skills? But negotiation skills aside, the tuk-tuk should not be more than $10 for a return trip to and from the cave.
The roads aren't the best on the way to the caves and it can be a bit bumpy at times but it is definitely worth the trip and the scenery is beautiful.
Where is the best place to watch the bats at Battambang Bat Caves?
There are various places you could watch the bats, but one of the best places is to grab a seat near the base of the caves. You will know when you have reached the right place as there will be a gathering of people. Don't get me wrong, there were quite a few tourists at the Battambang Bat Caves but it wasn't unbearably busy, like some other tourist attractions we have visited. Even though I think more and more people are visiting Battambang, its not on the same level of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh so yes, it is a 'tourist trap', but you won't find it hard to find a seat at a bar, on a wall (if you don't want a drink) or a plastic chair on the side of the road.
Bit of advice...it is tempting to sit as close to the opening of the caves as possible, but the reality of millions of bats flying out the cave at the same time results in a messy and smelly experience. We sat a bit further away and still had a great view, without the smell of bat wee.
If you don't want the crowds and want to view the bats in a more intimate setting, instead of driving to the main 'tourist' viewing area, get your tuk-tuk to pull up on the main road, just before the turn to the main viewing area and you will still have a good view of the bats with a bit of peace and quiet.
The other option is to get your tuk-tuk driver to drive you away from the main viewing area, where you will see another row of tuk-tuks parked up and from there you can climb the narrow path up the mountain and this has amazing views of the vast landscape, the sunset and of course the bats.
What time to get to the Battambang Bat Caves?
As the sun starts to set and the sky starts to change colour, the bats start to fly in mass out of the caves ready to hunt. The crowds start to gather around 5pm but this gives you more than enough time to chose a bar, grab a few beers and take in the growing anticipation and excitement of the crowd before the bats take flight.
The bats leave the cave at dusk, which is usually around 6pm but it is worth checking the time of the sunset depending on the time of year you are visiting. We probably got there a bit early but enjoyed a few drinks while we were waiting. If you fancy a bit to eat, then there are street food stalls or the bars serve basic meals.
How long does it last for?
From the sight of the first eager bat ready to find some grub, the steady stream of bats continues for 30-40 minutes. How amazing! It is a bit of a David Attenborough moment.
What's even better... it's free! There is no entrance fee and so it's perfect for the budget conscious backpacker.
I was honestly humbled by the power of nature and the Battambang Bat Caves should be on all Cambodia itineraries.