Being the second largest city in the country but, at the same time, having an incredible relaxed atmosphere, Battambang is a bit of a unique mix. On one hand, its countryside vibe brought by its status as an agricultural center, on the other hand, the birth place of many of the best Cambodian artists, with an art university and a couple of galleries providing interesting artwork that feeds both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap art scenes. Therefore, the Battambang Art Scene is definitely worth to check out to get some inspiration for your trip!
Local artist Nov Cheanik’s exhibition at Sangker Gallery.
Historically a creative city, Battambang got its population of artists and intellectuals killed or forced to fled during Khmer Rouge times, destroying for many years any attempt of producing something different than the everyday survival. Now, after some decades of slow forgetfulness and reconstruction, the revival is on the process and some interesting projects are happening. One of the reasons is perhaps Phare Ponleu Selpak, the famous circus group, which besides its performances has an art university in town supporting the growth of many local talents. If you want to support their work don’t miss the performances every Monday and Thursday at 7pm, also recommended passing through their gallery for checking out and maybe buy some of its students’ artwork.
On street 2.5, probably the coolest lane in the city, you can find many of its art spaces and trendy cafés. Visit Lotus bar and gallery for some exquisite art and delicious food and coffee, or the Lonely Tree café and Battambang Traveler for interesting crafts and souvenirs. In addition, head to Madison Corner for an evening drink and meet up with the creative minds in town.
Graffities outside Madison Corner.
Just as a side note, this street was also home to Sammaki community gallery and Make Maek art space, both already closed but crucial projects in the promotion and development of Battambang art scene. Nearby you also have Jaan Bai on street 2, an interesting restaurant and coffee shop with unique cocktails and appealing murals designed by local artists in its outside walls, and after that refreshment, you can continue your stroll to the close by street 1.5 for visiting another highlight of Battambang’s art scene: the Sangker gallery. With exhibitions featuring both young and established artists and a studio open to be used by them, it also organizes art tours around the city which include visiting some artists’ studios (contact them through laura.sangker at outlook.com or +88587298086 for reservations).
Murals on Jaan Bai restaurant and coffee shop.
A bit further but still at walking distance there’s Choco L’Art café, bar, tearoom and gallery, with its Khmer and French fusion food and drinks, including homemade bread and cakes. And, of course, beautiful paintings by local artists on its walls. In the other side of the river there’s also Romcheik 5, an artist-runned gallery and studio founded by a group of young local painters, also interesting to visit and with a 2 dollars fee that goes directly to support their work. And on a different note, near Borey Thmei mall you can find the wonderful Petra library café, an interesting reading space perfect for an afternoon with a book and a coffee in your hands.
One of the rooms at Petra library café.