A mounting sense of excitement sits in the air as the light is slowly teased from the sky. And then suddenly a gasp, followed by a chorus of gasps as out of one of the larger caves that scar the mountainside, a sudden stream of black snakes into the sky.
For the next 30 to 40 minutes, this spectacle continues as the bats rise from their slumber and burst from the network of caves to hit the surrounding countryside for a night of hunting.
The best spot to catch this is obviously at the entrance to the caves, which is where you’ll find the most people, with the spectacle kicking off from about 5.30pm.
Thankfully, Battambang isn’t yet teaming with tourists so the crowds remain relatively small and finding a viewing spot is still easy without having to arrive hours ahead of time. Plus, stallholders put out a handful of plastic chairs for punters to kick back on.
It’s also easy to avoid any crowds at all – if you can cope with a bit of a climb. Ask your tuk tuk to take the first left on the track leaving the bat caves. Soon you’ll hit a huddle of tuk tuks at the side of the road, marking where a small path leads up the mountains. A short climb up affords a great spot to enjoy the sunset to one side and the bats to the other.