Just down the road from the Killing Caves of Phnom Sampeau, visitors gather at sundown for an incredible spectacle of nature: the nightly exodus of a gargantuan colony of hungry wrinkle-lipped free-tailed bats.
Most spectators convene at the bars and stalls on the side of the road, where food and drinks (and cover) are available. But for those wanting a more intimate experience, you can have a local guide lead you up the hidden path to the mouth of the cave.
Standing so close to the cloud of flying creatures whooshing out of the cave is an enthralling encounter. The bats won’t hurt you—they’re too busy hunting for bugs to even care about you—but the swarm is so large and furious you can actually feel the temperature rise as they soar overhead.
The bat population is so high it can take upwards of 20 minutes for the cave to clear. Once they’re out, it’s amazing to watch the animals streak across the sky. The hordes of flying bats seem to paint the air with fluid black shapes, forming a series of striking images against a sky tinged with the last bits of sunset colors.
Know Before You Go
Phnom Sampeau is about 30 minutes south of Battambang. Hire a car or a tuk-tuk and visit the nearby Killing Caves for a sobering experience.