Siem Reap, a resort town lying on the north-western side of Cambodia is full of temples and is one of the fastest growing tourist places in Cambodia. Along with some majestically built temples, Siem Reap also has lots to do for those who are looking for a quick adrenaline rush. If you’re an adventure junkie, you have to go trekking in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
3 Top Places For Trekking In Siem Reap
Fond of treks? Siem Reap also has lots in store for those who like to take both strenuous treks and more relaxed hikes along well-made trails. Let’s find out where you can go hiking and trekking in Siem Reap:
1) The Kulen Mountain Waterfall Trek
Located in the Northern part of the Siem Reap Province, the Kulen mountain was an Ancient Capital in 8AD under King Jayavarman II. Along with being the ancient Capital, Kulen mountain was also one of the biggest stone quarries, the stone from these quarries was used by the Kingsmen in Angkor to build temples. The waterfall at the Kulen mountain is a heritage site that has water flowing from the top of the mountain straight into the Tonlé Sap Lake (Cambodia) which happens to be the biggest lake in all of Southeast Asia. The Kulen mountains are a range of mountain plateaux to the south of the Dângrêk Mountains and are one of the most commonly trekked ranges around Siem Reap with its peak point at 487 meters.
The trek to Kulen Mountains and what you’ll see:
Your trek will start from the bottom of the Kulen mountain that is, the foot of Mount Kulen where you will see larger-than-life elephant statues that were built out by Jayavarman II to symbolize Hinduism. Next up, you will have to walk over a kachha muddy track to reach Preah Ang Jub and sip on some refreshing spring water. You’ll also find a Buddhist temple here right before you continue with the trek up the Kulen mountains. As you continue to go ahead, you’ll reach the Valley of Thousand Lingas with river water flowing over the lingams. Lingams are small symbols of the Hindu Lord Shiva, along with these, you would also find various depictions of Lord Vishnu, Brahma, Rama, Hanuman and Lakshmi in the form of statues. A very interesting fact about the Siem Reap River is that the water here is considered to be blessed by the Lords over whose Lingas (statues) it flows.
Continue trekking and you’ll reach the Preah Ang Thom, a Buddhist temple that is home to a 15m statue of a Buddha that was carved out of a huge sandstone block. Pilgrims from Cambodia and Asia flock to this 16th-century temple as it is a popular temple for religious rites. Don’t forget to peep into the jungle below and take a moment to watch the entire mountain range from the Preah Ang Thom temple. Most trekkers choose to walk back and finish their trek after visiting the Preah Ang Thom but if you are still curious about what lies in the jungle below, set out on foot. Swimming in this fresh-water pool will rejuvenate you of all the tiredness from the trek and is an experience in itself.
Duration of the Trek:
It would take you about 4 hours to hike the mountain range and up to a day to tour the entire place. You can also choose to stay back at the campsite near Preah Kral pagoda to spend some time in the midst of the glimmering night sky full of stars. If you’ve gone through a trekking company, they will look after your meals and make sure that you enjoy the overnight trek to the fullest. If you stay back, you’ll watch the sky turn into a canvas that slowly transforms itself into a starry night from a fiery sunset.
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate. Suitable for beginners.
– Wear full clothing that covers your legs and arms, there are lots of leeches around the jungle.
– Carry an extra pair of clothes if you plan to swim or stay the night.
– Carry a mosquito repellent and a sunscreen lotion, irrespective of whether you plan to stay back.
– Choose a guided tour as opposed to a tour by yourself. The Kulen Nature Trails group is one of the best trekking tours in Siem Reap. A group of locals has formed the tour in an attempt to protect the park. They also have full day tours that are inclusive of pick-ups and drops to your place of accommodation, at an added cost.
Where? Route 60, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Reaching Kulen Mountains from Siem Reap:
The Kulen Mountains are about an hour and a half away from the Province of Siem Reap by taxi and would cost about INR 3000 (one way). The best way to trek the Kulen Mountains is to go through a tour company.
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2) Hike at Mondulkiri Province near Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s capital, the hub of the Khmer Empire and French colonial palaces, Phnom Penh lies at the junction of the Mekong, Bassac and the Tonle Sap rivers. The city has lots to see and do while it still maintains an old-world charm as it is laden with ancient Angkorian architecture. Getting its name from the Wat Phnom (also known as Hill Temple), a temple that is the abode of five large statues of Buddha mounted on a man-made hill that is 27 meter above sea level. The history of the temple goes back to 1373 when Daun Penh (popularly known as Grandma Penh among locals) found and saved the five statues of Buddha floating in the Mekong river and up on the hill. The city of Phnom Penh was originally called Krong Chaktomuk translating to ‘City of Four Faces’, referring to the ‘X’ that was formed as a result of the rivers’ confluence.
The hike at Mondulkiri Province and what you’ll see:
Mondulkiri province, located on the north-eastern side of Phnom Penh can be accessed by a 6-hour bus ride that reaches you to the verdant mountains, surrounded by a dense jungle. The Mondulkiri Province gives you a chance at a hands-on experience in the lap of nature as this remote province is full of waterfalls, elephants, wild animals, birds and lots of elephants. The Mondulkiri Province has tours that are led by the local residents who take you through the interiors of the jungles. A Cambodian NGO by the name of Mondulkiri Project has managed to provide homes to herds of elephants in the jungle at the Elephant Sanctuaries within the area.
Make sure you take the elephant tour where you can feed elephants and walk around the jungle with these elephants as they march through the forests, chewing on bamboos. Some of the local tribesmen also offer accommodation for tourists in the form of homestays so in case you want to stay back at Mondulkiri itself, you can choose to stay at one the home stays provided by them. What’s more? You will also get to learn a lot about the local Bunong culture and their ways of life when you visit Mondulkiri.
Duration of the hike:
The hike can last up to two to four days, depending on your speed as well as all the areas that you want to cover. If you’re too pressed for time but still want to hike the Mondulkiri Province, you could book half-day treks through the officials at the Mondulkiri Project.
Difficulty level: Easy to hard. Parts of the hike are suitable for beginners.
– Carry extra pairs of clothes with you irrespective of whether you’re going to stay back.
– Pack extra food with you as the locals cook up meals according to their tastes/ local ingredients and you might/ might not like the food.
– The Bunong people are not very well to do and might not be able to provide you with regular everyday things that you would need (eg. towels, sanitary napkins, etc.) so make sure you carry everything that you might need.
– Carry mosquito repellents, raincoats, and long socks.
Where? Senmonorom Town, Sen Monorom, Cambodia.
Reaching Phnom Penh from Siem Reap:
Phnom Penh is about five and a half hours (311 kilometers) away from the Province of Siem Reap, by van and would cost about INR 900 (one way). If you want to take the van, we suggest you take the Siem Reap Virak Buntham Express which has a one-hour frequency. We suggest you stop over at Phnom Penh and then take a guided tour that will take you to the Mondulkiri Province trek.
Suggested Read: 10 Best Restaurants In Siem Reap To Satisfy Every Palate
3) Kep Mountains Near Krong Kampot
Kampot, a city that lies south of Kampot, is a rather slow-paced town with a mix of French and Chinese architecture. The Kampot river is a very scenic location in Kampot that is frequented by locals and tourists who take long leisurely strolls across the promenade by the river and enjoy the sunset views. The Kampot town also has some of the best eateries where you can enjoy sumptuous food at. The best part about Kampot is the Kep Mountains that are located 30 minutes away from the main city.
The hike at Kep Mountains and what you’ll see:
The Kep Mountains afford the best hiking experiences at the Kep National Park lined with dense forests and picturesque views. The hike is often called ‘Stairway to Heaven’ as it takes you to the most beautiful Sunset Rock, a nunnery and a pagoda. The Kep National Park is another hiking trail in the heart of the Kep peninsula where spy monkeys and other wildlife creatures reside. If you’re someone who likes mountain biking or dirt biking, the Kep Mountains are the best paths that you can explore on dirt bikes.
Duration of the Hike:
The hike is only about 8 kilometers with well-maintained roads and takes about half a day to hike.
Difficulty level: Easy. Suitable for beginners.
– While hiking the Kep Mountains, make sure you wear stout shoes and full clothing.
– Carry water and a mosquito repellent.
– Carry a first aid kit.
Where? Krong Kaeb, Cambodia.
Reaching Kep Mountains from Siem Reap:
Reaching Kep from Siem Reap takes about 10 hours by a minivan and costs about INR 2000 (one way). Board the Siem Reap Virak Buntham Express that takes you to Phnom Penh Champa Mekong and then to Kep.
What To Pack If You Plan To Go Hiking Or Trekking In Siem Reap, Cambodia?
– A pair of long socks and pants,
– Hat, Sunscreen and sunglasses,
– Waterproof raincoat,
– Mosquito repellents, patches, and a first aid kit,
– Comfortable trekking/ hiking shoes,
– Warm clothes especially if you plan to stay overnight at any campsite as nights get freezing cold in Cambodia.
The Climate In Cambodia
Cambodia can be visited throughout the year but if you’re planning to go trekking or hiking, we suggest you avoid the rainy months as it might make your trek more difficult and dangerous and more so in the case of mountain trekking in Siem Reap. The average temperature in Cambodia is about 27 degrees Celsius and drops maximum to 16 degrees Celsius in the winter months especially during the months of December and January. The warmest month in Cambodia in April while the rainy season ranges from the months of May to October.
Hiking and trekking in Siem Reap are some of the most enjoyable and amusing experiences that you will never forget and will want to go back to relive every time you get a chance. Do you think you want to miss out on this? When are you booking the tickets to Cambodia for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of treks and hikes in Siem Reap?
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