Welcome to Siem Reap! Wondering what to do in this region beyond Angkor Wat? We ventured 1.5 hours outside of the city to a remote jungle area where we find a sacred mountain and hidden waterfall with significant history to the ancient Khmer Empire. Let's go check it out!
Behind the Scenes video:
First we visit Phnom Kulen, which is a National Park area located about 48 km to the north of the provincial town of Siem Reap. Phnom Kulen is considered a holy mountain in Cambodia, of special religious significance to Hindus and Buddhists who come to the mountain in pilgrimage. It is where the Khmer empire was established in the 9th Century and also served as the quarry for Angkor Wat.
When we arrived at Phnom Kulen, the entire area was filled with Cambodian music, satay and grilled meat street food, and the smell of intense lingering from the temple. The site has two waterfalls and a magnificent Buddhist temple that sits a few floors above ground. Inside the temple is a reclining Buddha with epic views of the jungle.
The waterfall is where locals gather for picnics and festivities. We followed a dirt path that winded beside a stream, and we new the waterfall was near. Once we saw the waterfall, there were crowds of locals and tourists taking photos and enjoying the view. The water was very shallow, which was refreshing after experiencing the 90 degree humidity.
Phnom Kulen was also one of the last strongholds for the Khmer Rouge in 1979 and even still has landmines. The country is making great progress to remove the landmines and rebuild its economy from the civil war. Despite the tough recent past, the country is extraordinary and Cambodian people are some of the sweetest and most inspiring people I have met on my travels.
What are your favorite places in Cambodia? Comment below!
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.