With the government aiming to fix Cambodia’s dilapidated railway system by 2013, Battambang, the country’s second biggest city, is poised to become the next big destination. Located near the Thai border, the town has not been touched by the development frenzy seen in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and along the southern coast.
It is still home to dozens of charming French colonial villas and Chinese-style shophouses, some of which are being converted into small hotels. A couple of recent examples: La Villa, a lemon-hued 1930’s villa stuffed with seven antique-filled suites, and Ma Maison, another villa-turned-hotel. And, there’s plenty to see in the area, including some interesting temples and Phnom Banan, an Angkor-era ruin set on a mountainside outside of town. Backpackers are already flocking here; I reckon it is only a matter of time before a critical mass of French expats starts opening up more boutique hotels and cafés, as happened in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and Luang Prabang.
Jennifer Chen is Travel + Leisure's Asia correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter at xiaochen6.