If you want to have a refreshing afernoon
you should definitely visit Phnom Kulen (or Kulen mountain) at
about 50km from Siem Reap town. At Phnom Kulen, you can enjoy a
combination of natural beauty and Cambodian culture in a relaxing
Phnom Kulen is very important for the Cambodians. It is the
place where in 802 Jayavarman II was crowned to devaraja (god-king)
and announced the independence of Java. Cambodia as we know it
today was born. In the weekends and on public holidays it is a very
popular place. Cambodians like to take their whole family to Phnom
Kulen to have a picnic, swim in the waterfall and to climb up the
mountain to pray at the large resting Buddha.
Most people spend a full day at Kulen Moutain to visit the
Most people first climb up to the top of the mountain to have a
look and to pray at the pagoda with the large resting Buddha. The
statue of Buddha is carved in a boulder of sandstone and is one of
the biggest you can find in Cambodia. Walk around the statue and
you will notice that at the back of the statue a lot of people
leave money and small notes with whishes for their families and
Before going down take you time to enjoy the view. You will see
a part of the jungle and forests that are still presented in
Cambodia. After this you can go down by following a small trial
which leads to small sanctums and a natural source with holy water.
A lot of people wash their hands and face with this holy water
hoping it will bring them good luck.
After climbing up and coming down it is time for lunch.
There are a lot of food stalls where you can order a nice picnic.
The price for one dish is around 5 dollars. It is also allowed to
bring your own food which is often done by most Cambodians.
After lunch it is time to go and have a refreshing swim in the
waterfall. You will see many people swiming and playing in the cold
refreshing water. There is a small trial and steep strairs leading
you to the bottom level of the waterfall. Stay on the trail because
it can be slippery in raining season. Pay attention to the
riverbeds which are carved with gods and lingas images.
On the trail and at the waterfall there are some lovely wooden
rocking chairs decorated with flowers which are nice to take a
picture in but be aware that they will charge you 1000 riel or 0.25
dollars to use it.
Phnom Kulen is located 50 kilometers from Siem Reap town. The
easiest way to get there is by renting a taxi. They can easily
climb up the mountain anrd drive on the narrow road. It will take
you around 2 hours to get there. Leave on time because you can only
climb up till 11 am. In the afternoon, you are only allowed to come
down. They do this to avoid too many vehicles crossing each other
on the small road. Climbing up the mountain will give you amazing
views on the green forests and flora.
Cambodians can enter Phnom Kulen for free, but foreigners and
tourists have to pay US$20. This is only for entering the park.
Please get your ticket upfront. You can get it in any travel
agency. If possible, let a Cambodian buy the ticket for you. Most
of the time they can get it for US$15. The taxi to go there and
back will cost you around US$50. Try to share and always negociate
before agreeing. Some tuk tuks may try to persuade you to go with
them but be aware that they can't really climb up the mountain.
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