Battambang is known for being the birthplace of Cambodia’s most famous artists and musicians, but during the Khmer Rouge era the art scene was virtually destroyed. In recent years, Battambang has experienced an arts revival and become home to a vibrant emerging art scene. For years Battambang has been a place to buy marble and wood carvings, and colored gems from Pailin. And it still is, but as the art scene has begun to blossom again, several galleries and art spaces have opened.
Art spaces and unique shopping venues inhabit some of the old shophouses of the picturesque Walking District, especially along Street 2.5 and surrounding area. Sangker Gallery spotlights the work of local talent, many of them graduates of the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak’s fine arts school for at-risk youth. The Romcheik 5 Art Space on the east side of the river is also stand-out, hosting the works of Phare graduates in superior art space.
Some restaurants in town also feature local art. Lotus Bar & Gallery has a proper gallery upstairs with ongoing exhibitions by Cambodian and expat artists based in Battambang. The artsy Choco L’Art cafe, like many of the galleries, hangs the art Phare graduates on its walls.
Complimenting the art scene, the souvenir shopping, though a bit in Battambang, is unique and fascinating. The Lost Stick on Street 2.5 deserves special mention for its amazing curio collection, and Bric-à-Brac as well for its high quality crafts and textiles. For more traditional souvenirs, riverfront shops along Street 1 offer marble and wood carvings and statues and other souvenirs. .