add-banner

Phnom Kulen Overview

Phnom Kulen National Park, located in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, is a significant historical and natural site, about 48 kilometers (approximately 30 miles) from the renowned Angkor Wat. Established as a national park to protect its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, it covers an area of approximately 373 square kilometers (about 144 square miles). Phnom Kulen, meaning “Mountain of the Lychees,” holds a special place in Cambodian history as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire in the 9th century when King Jayavarman II declared independence from Java and initiated the Devaraja cult.

The park is renowned for its religious significance, featuring ancient temples, a thousand Lingas carved into the riverbed, and a giant reclining Buddha at Preah Ang Thom monastery, which is the largest of its kind in Cambodia. The lush landscape of Phnom Kulen is characterized by its dense tropical forest, waterfalls, and streams, offering a refreshing retreat from the Cambodian heat.

Among its natural attractions, the two-tiered waterfall is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, providing a serene setting for relaxation and picnics. The upper tier falls from a height of about 4-5 meters, while the lower tier cascades down from about 15-20 meters, creating a picturesque and inviting natural pool.

Phnom Kulen National Park is not only a place of natural beauty but also an archaeological treasure trove, with hidden ruins and relics scattered throughout the forest, waiting to be explored. The park’s significance in Khmer history, combined with its natural beauty, makes it a fascinating destination for those interested in Cambodia’s past and those seeking the tranquility of its landscapes.

Visitors to Phnom Kulen National Park can enjoy a day of hiking, exploring ancient ruins, swimming in the waterfall, and experiencing the spiritual and historical essence of Cambodia.

advertisement banner
Park Map
advertisement banner

Phnom Kulen National Park Pictures

Phnom Kulen National Park Trails

Preah Ang Thom Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.5 kilometers round trip, with minimal elevation gain.

Description: This easy trail leads to the revered Preah Ang Thom monastery, home to Cambodia’s largest reclining Buddha.

Surrounded by lush forest, the path is flat and well-maintained, making it accessible to visitors of all ages. Along the way, hikers can enjoy the serene atmosphere, with the sound of monks chanting in the distance.

It’s a spiritual journey into the heart of Khmer culture.

Kbal Spean Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3 kilometers round trip, with an elevation gain of about 150 meters.

Description: The Kbal Spean Trail offers a moderate hike through the jungle to the “River of a Thousand Lingas,” where ancient Hindu carvings are etched into the riverbed and rocks.

The trail is somewhat rocky and includes a steady climb, but it’s well worth the effort to see these unique religious symbols and nearby waterfalls, especially during the wet season when the river is full.

Phnom Kulen Waterfall Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 0.5 kilometers one way, with minimal elevation gain.

Description: This short, easy trail takes visitors directly to the base of Phnom Kulen’s main waterfall. The waterfall is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, offering a refreshing break from the heat with its cool, clear waters.

Surrounded by dense jungle, the area is also great for picnicking and relaxing in a natural setting.

Terrace of Sdach Kamlung Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2 kilometers round trip, with minimal elevation gain.

Description: Leading to the Terrace of Sdach Kamlung, a moss-covered ruin hidden in the forest, this trail is like stepping back in time. The path is easy, with flat terrain that makes it suitable for a leisurely walk.

Visitors will be rewarded with the sight of the mysterious, overgrown ruins and a chance to ponder the history of this ancient civilization.

Bat Cave Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4 kilometers round trip, with an elevation gain of about 200 meters.

Description: For those interested in wildlife, the Bat Cave Trail offers a moderate hike up Phnom Kulen’s slopes to a series of caves inhabited by thousands of bats. The trail can be steep and rocky in places, requiring sturdy footwear.

The sight of bats swarming out of the caves at dusk is an unforgettable experience, offering a unique glimpse into the park’s natural biodiversity.

Sources
  • Asia Package Travel, Phnom Kulen National Park, Cambodia, https://www.asiapackagetravel.com/blog/mysterious-beauty-of-phnom-kulen-national-park-cambodia.html, retrieved April 2024.
  • Culture Trip, A Brief History of Phnom Kulen, the Most Sacred Mountain in Cambodia, https://theculturetrip.com/asia/cambodia/articles/a-brief-history-of-phnom-kulen-the-most-sacred-mountain-in-cambodia/, retrieved April 2024.
  • Siem Reap, Phnom Kulen National Park, https://www.siemreap.net/visit/attractions/sightseeing/phnom-kulen/, retrieved April 2024.
  • The Telegraph, Beyond Angkor: Inside the lost world of Phnom Kulen, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/asia/cambodia/articles/Beyond-Angkor-Inside-the-lost-world-of-Phnom-Kulen/, retrieved April 2024.
  • Tourism Cambodia, Phnom Kulen National Park, https://www.tourismcambodia.com/travelguides/provinces/siem-reap/what-to-see/78_phnom-kulen-national-park.htm, retrieved April 2024.