Bamboo train in Battambang, Cambodia

Battambang’s biggest tourist attraction is the bamboo train. Basically, its story is this: it’s a train made out of bamboo. Why? So that it’s ultra-light. Which means that when the bigger, faster & more expensive trains come barreling down the train tracks, the bamboo train can be disassembled and put to the side (with enough time to avoid a collision). It’s a cheap and relatively easy way for locals to get around and locally transport their goods.

Unfortunately, Battambang’s bamboo train isn’t really used by the locals anymore. Its original curiosity has been eclipsed by dollar signs. The bamboo train is now, simply, just another tourist attraction—and not even a good one at that.

I’d heard good things about Battambang. And granted, my boat trip from Siam Reap was the most picturesque boat trip I’ve probably ever been on, but still…Battambang was a bit of a disappointment. The fact that the bamboo train is no longer even used by locals and that it’s just become a rather silly little tourist attraction was just not my style. Maybe if I was six years old, the bamboo train would be cool. But, alas, I’m not. Battambang wasn’t the most interesting place in Cambodia that I’d visited, and with its main tourist attraction a train made out of bamboo, I wasn’t impressed.

The scenery from the 20-minute ride wasn’t even anything spectacular. Oh well. But that doesn’t mean Cambodia didn’t have a lot more to offer me. Read some of my other posts about Cambodia

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10 comments

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  1. Adammetal3

    Tourists are people like you who made the effort to broaden their horizons, and tourist dollars help local economies. Why is this bad?

    • Adam

      I don’t discount the positive effects of tourism, but sometimes particular tourist sites can be disappointing. That was the case for me with the Battambang bamboo train….

  2. Three Taverns

    That’s interesting. When I rode the Bamboo Rail last December, we stopped several times along the 20 minute route to let locals get on board. Yes, it is somewhat of a tourist attraction (which is of course why you rode it), but locals do still use it.

    • Adam

      Thanks for sharing your experience! When I rode the train, we passed a few locals who were walking alongside the track, but we didn’t pick any up. Generally speaking, it just left me with a bad impression. But a tourist attraction is still very much just a tourist attraction…

  3. Wow, that’s a really interesting train. It’s too bad it isn’t used for anything but tourism anymore, though.

    • Adam

      It’s an interesting and unique concept, that’s for sure!

  4. What a shame.  So why exactly is it no longer used for local transport of goods, people, etc?  It’s just not cost effective?

    • Adam

      I don’t know for sure, but I think that it’s just less cost effective these days. It’s still a pretty cheap mode of transport, but it’s just not as popular as possible. And according to Lonely Planet, the government has restricted its use.

  5. Sorry you didn’t enjoy the train (great photo, BTW). I loved it, but I rode it back in 2002. I heard that it was what the locals used when Pol Pot banned real trains.

    • Adam

      Thanks! Didn’t know about that. It’s definitely a unique thing to see, but I’m just not sure how relevant it is today.

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