Cambodia – riding the bamboo train in Battambang

Cost: 5$ p.P.
Duration: approx. 20min each way plus a 10-20min stop at the turning point.
Getting there: tuk tuk around 5$ (at most)

Just a little bit outside of the city of Battambang you can find some old railways used to transport livestock and needed goods by the locals when the original train line stoped. Now they making more money to drive the tourists up and down the railway then transporting goods.

The bamboo train is everything else then a train, it’s a wooden frame with a bamboo cover on two axels with steel wheels and the whole thing is powered by lawn motor engine.

The bamboo train in Battambang is a very entertaining way of spending a morning or afternoon but don’t expect anything fancy. It runs in a straight line for about 20 min one way, but it is really fun. It reminded me a little bit of “Alandin’s magic carpet” but just in a much cheaper option.

As soon you sit down on the cushion and the little motor starts running, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The bamboo train can get a speed up to 40-50km/h, what you clearly don’t expect in the first place from it.

Because there is only one railway line and the trains running up and down the tracks all day, there will be some interruptions to your journey. Means trains driving towards you on the same line. Because the line is straight at all times it’s not hard to spot them, so your driver will slow down and both sides stop in front of each other.

This is the start of a counting who has more people and/or bamboo trains on his side. When there are more bamboo trains driving towards you then going in the same direction as you, your driver will ask you to go off and will take apart the train, place it on the side of the rails, the others pass and then your train will be put together again and the journey continuous.

We heard that the train line was said to be shut down soon for good (or for renovation, no one knows exactly), but these rumours are ongoing since months now and nothing happened. Even our tuk tuk driver told us it would be shut down in a month time (information from aug 2017).

As it is a good income for the villagers and we have seen workers all along the rails cutting trees and grass to keep the rails clean, I found it very suspicious and unlikely that the train shuts down soon. It’s maybe just another tourist trap to get more people in before it “shuts down”.

Also the people in village at the end of the trails are known for trying to sell to tourists and literally following them till they buy.
Our experience was different but things like this happened, so just be aware.

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