Skip to Content

Bamboo Train in Battambang, Cambodia

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 very good one at that. (Sorry, Cambodia.)

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. I still remember the leisurely float down the river, talking with the other tourists and locals who use the transportation daily.

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.

Battambang’s Bamboo Train – a travel blogger tip

I first heard of the bamboo train from reading other travel blogs. During my trip around the world, I obsessively was on the lookout for quirky and unusual tourist attractions—unique things to see and do that felt out of the ordinary. That’s how I stumbled on the bamboo train, and Battambang in general.

Cambodia was on my bucket list, but primarily for the Angkor Wat temples which were admittedly incredible. And besides the Cambodian history we’d glossed over in high school history classes, I didn’t have much of an understanding of what Cambodia would be like.

Reading travel blogs from other first-time backpackers like myself led me to some truly cool and unusual places. And that’s also how I discovered Battambang—one of Cambodia’s largest cities that I’d never heard about. That in turn led me to the bamboo train, seemingly the city’s main tourist attraction at the time.

Visiting the Bamboo Train

At the time, it was fun to discover something random online, make the trek completely out of your way with no set itinerary to go and find it, and then to actually do it. Backpacking, for me, was always about those random excursions. And they were always hit or miss. But the adventure was the fun of it.

Battambang’s bamboo train, or norry, wasn’t necessarily for me. But I can see the appeal for some. Unfortunately, the tourist attraction is no more.

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

  1. 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 says:

      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.

  2. TravelnLass says:

    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 says:

      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.

  3. Clara says:

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

  4. Three Taverns says:

    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 says:

      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…

  5. Adammetal3 says:

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

    • Adam says:

      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….

Comments are closed.