Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ‘Bamboo train’ back on tracks in Battambang

‘Bamboo train’ back on tracks in Battambang

Battambang’s new bamboo train, which starts at the foot of Phnom Banan, was inaugurated on Sunday afternoon. Photo supplied
Battambang’s new bamboo train, which starts at the foot of Phnom Banan, was inaugurated on Sunday afternoon. Photo supplied

‘Bamboo train’ back on tracks in Battambang

Battambang's beloved “bamboo train” is back, but this time on a different set of tracks.

After shutting down last year to make way for actual train service on the tracks, the new train is now located more than 20 kilometres from the city and began operations on Sunday.

“We have six lorries to operate and provide service to the national and international tourists visiting Banan temple area,” said Soy Bora, a representative of the new train’s operators.

Originally conceived as a logistical fix during the United Nations Transitional Authority of Cambodia period, the original “bamboo train” was a lorry system that operated on Cambodia’s rarely used northern rail line.

However, tourists soon discovered that the improvised rail vehicles, often consisting of a small motor and a bamboo platform on wheels, were a thrilling ride through the countryside, and a cottage industry sprang up just outside the provincial capital. But with plans to redevelop the railway for other traffic, the bamboo train had to go.

Provincial tourism authorities arranged a new home for the train, with the original operators still running the business.

According to Battambang native and Butterfly Tours founder Moth Pheap, the old train was steeped in history, with the old tracks giving it a quirky charm that made it an important stop on his company’s bicycle tours.

“It was a main thing. I got a lot of people [visiting] that came to try the bamboo train,” he said.

The new track is “too far” from the city, he said, and loses some of its gritty authenticity in its new more manicured and “bland” form.

The line starts near the base of Phnom Banan, on which sits an eponymous Angkorian temple, in Kanteu II commune’s Sang Village, before ending 4 kilometres down the line at Chhoeuteal commune.

“The tourists can experience the spectacular landscape around the Banan temple, ancient carvings and fruit orchards,” Bora said. Cambodians must pay 10,000 riel (about $2.50) while foreigners will pay twice that.

Banan District Governor Chum Nhor, noting the beauty of the community forests in his district, said he hoped the new location would spur tourism growth in the area and improve local livelihoods.

MOST VIEWED

  • Sihanoukville building collapse death toll rises to 19

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said on Sunday that the government will act against those responsible for the collapse of a seven-storey building in Sihanoukville on Saturday, which resulted in 19 dead and 24 injured as of Sunday evening. Sar Kheng said three Chinese nationals and one

  • Gov’t to probe Chinese exports to US via Sihanoukville

    The government is investigating allegations that Chinese companies are using Chinese-owned special economic zones in Cambodia to export goods to the US and avoid tariffs, said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay. The move comes after US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes said the US had

  • Banh: The Khmer Rouge worse than sanctions and pressure

    Minister of National Defence Tea Banh said on Thursday that having sanctions and external pressure placed on Cambodia was not worse than life under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Tea Banh, who is also deputy prime minister, was speaking to military and ruling party officials

  • Funcinpec ‘set to sell their headquarters’, says source

    An anonymous source from Funcinpec said acting president Prince Norodom Chakravuth had held a meeting with other officials to discuss selling several of the party headquarters across the country while the party president Prince Norodom Ranariddh receives medical treatment at the Royal Phnom Penh Hospital