Phnom Kulen National Park, which sits north of the famous temples of Angkor Archeological Park, features Khmer landmarks in a gorgeous natural setting. Visit to see waterfalls streaming from a holy mountain, natural pools, the phallic carvings at Kbal Spean (the River of a Thousand Lingas), and a popular Buddhist shrine. The Basics
The mountain of Phnom Kulen, the centerpiece of this national park, is one of Cambodian Buddhists’ most sacred mountains. Join the pilgrims worshiping at the mountain’s temples, and visit Kulen Falls to swim, lounge in the shade, or picnic. Other highlights include the reclining Buddha at Preah Ang Thom Pagoda and the Khmer carvings of Kbal Spean (River of a Thousand Lingas); you’ll need to carry a ticket to the Angkor temple complex to access Kbal Spean.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Only cars can manage the steep drive up the mountain; if you arrive by tuk tuk, you’ll need to make a 2-hour hike to the summit.
- As at other holy sites in Cambodia, visitors should dress modestly, with clothing that covers knees and elbows.
- The park’s pathways are uneven and can be slippery and might be a challenge for some visitors; be sure to wear sturdy footwear.
- Phnom Kulen National Park is on the same road as Banteay Srei, and the two sites can be combined in one trip.
How to Get There
Phnom Kulen National Park is located on Route 67, about 29 miles (47 km.) north of Siem Reap and about a 2-hour drive from the city. Within the park, the road is just a one-way dirt track that snakes steeply up the mountain. Hike to the summit, or hire a car to drive you all the way to the top.
When to Get There
The one-way road to the summit changes direction every day at noon: cars may go up in the morning and may come back in the afternoon. So if you’re planning to drive, you’ll need to hire a car for the day, arrive by 11am, and then wait until the afternoon to descend. Alternatively, opt for a tour includes transportation.
Swimming in Phnom Kulen National Park
The natural pools beneath the park’s waterfall are ideal for cooling off on steamy days. Bring a bathing suit and towel, and consider packing a pair of sturdy, waterproof sandals as the surrounding rocks can be slippery. Lock boxes for storing valuables are available for rent by the swimming area.