Trekking and Staying like a Local around Phnom Kulen

Trekking and Staying like a Local around Phnom Kulen

Basic amenities but a life-enriching experience beyond words near Phnom Kulen


An unaltered experience outside Siem Reap where traditions meet heritage meets a peek on how locals live and thrive; unbeknownst by many, Phnom Kulen has mastered to stay under the radar for quite a long period of time. Fanning out over a vast region in the heart of Cambodia, the Angkor influences are often only recognized what’s within a short distance from Temple Town Siem, and Phnom Kulen is one of these extraordinary examples of rural indulgence in true local style.

For 2 days, guests will pay respect to the sacred mountain, once the divine centre of Jayavarman II received its royal title in 802 AD, proclaiming his spot in Khmer history. His traditions and placing Mahendraparvata (Mountain of the Great Indra) as a sacred spot have left the area filled with exploratory paths, untrodden sections wading in history, and being able to touch base with the locals. The jewel in the crown is an overnight stay at a local homestay, surrounded by mystery and history before returning back to Siem Reap.


Day 1 | 2 Days Trekking and Staying like a Local

Day 1

Siem Reap – Phnom Kulen                                                                                             [L, D]

An early morning departure from your accommodation in Siem Reap signals the start of this exhilarating tour option outside this worldwide acclaimed centre of the Angkor Era and into the countryside, filled with dazzling sights, sounds and smells of seeing the rural side of Cambodia. Accompanied by an expert trekking guide (English speaking), you head towards Phnom Kulen.
Situated around 50 kilometres northeast of Siem Reap, it is here where you will be spending most of the day, exploring examples of a bygone era, intertwined with an unaltered insight on how locals have lived, worked and protected their homestead for generations. Upon arrival at Phnom Kulen, you will follow in the footsteps of your guide and a park ranger through 8 kilometres of dense jungle and primary forest. Some moderate climbs, muddy roads are to be expected but this all will lead to seeing Cambodia through new eyes and with a deep, fresh breath of air in your lungs.

The hike ends at the River of the Thousand Lingas – something that may sound surreal, but it actually is not; numerous pre-Angkor carvings located both below the surface as well partially covered up along the riverbanks. Symbols that primarily portrait fertility and now form an almost indescribable view of beauty also mark the arrival at our overnight address at Preah Ang Thom. Our journey through the green landscape does not end here: hiking further for another 7 kilometres and you will be standing face to face with the Sras Damrei, an elephant pond in the heart of the Phnom Kulen jungle where you will enjoy a picnic lunch.

Picnic lunch included in the jungle

Taking a breather after an intense hike yet also thoroughly enjoy the stunning landscape you will call home for the day includes listening to the story behind the creation of the Sras Damrei with its animal-shaped carved sandstone sculptures. Staying true to the adventure, heading into nearby bat cave and see how these gentle, yet often associated with the darker side of life, earn their respect from the locals as part of the community. It is time to head back to Preah Ang Thom to meet your host family for the night and reflect on what new experiences you’ve taken into.

In the afternoon, there is ample time to enjoy the refreshing waters nearby. Locally sourced by a 30-metre high waterfall, it is the meeting place to see locals enjoying their free time, too, as young and old swim and relax the day away. When time permits, paying your respect to the deities, the ancestral spirits and the residents of the Preah Ang Thom monastery – with its reclining
Buddha – may be an excellent idea.

As night falls, your host family will prepare and serve a locally sources, traditionally cooked Khmer meal while the sounds of nature as your back ground companion. The night over will be spent at a traditional stilted house with basic amenities: a mattress with mosquito net, clean toilets and a shower. To follow in the footsteps of the locals, turning in at an early hour is common and respecting these traditions is key.

Overnight at a traditional wooden house at Preah Ang Thom

Day 2 | 2 Days Trekking and Staying like a Local

Day 2

Phnom Kulen – Siem Reap                                                                                              [B, L]

There is actually no need to set an alarm; with the arrival of the first sunrays and slowly hearing nature waking up, it is also your time to leave the comfort of your mattress and head out into village life. Part of the experience is preparing breakfast and you’re more than welcome to help out cooking the first meal of the day at your homestay

At around 8 am, it is time to explore other regions of the Phnom Kulen region. A brisk, refreshing morning hike of around 20 kilometres heads into the direction of Kulen Mountain and the small settlement of Svay Leu, situated on the eastern side of the mountain. The walk along and over a carefully selected route avoids having impact on the natural splendour yet also gives you the chance to pass by other villages, meeting the locals and learning about their traditions and habits. At the end of this easy morning hike, lunch will be served at Svay Leu and where you will rendezvous with the driver.

Picnic lunch included in the jungle

Ending lunch also marks the end of your 2 day natural exploration of historical treasures and meeting the locals of Phnom Kulen. The final part of the day is reserved for an air-conditioned ride back from Svay Leu to Siem Reap (75 kilometres, around 1 hour 30 minutes’ drive)




  • Tours and transfers with licenced English-speaking guiding services / assistance. Other languages are on request and are subject to availability
  • Accommodation in sharing twin/double at mentioned accommodation as outlined in the itinerary
  • Transportation for tour and transfers by air-conditioned vehicle, unless otherwise stated
  • All entrance fees for visits as mentioned in the program
  • All applicable taxes and service charges
  • All meals as indicated in the program (food only)


  • Personal expenses such as meals, drinks, tips and gratuities, shopping, portage fees and optional tours, unless otherwise stated
  • Hotel accommodation in the destination of commencement
  • Any domestic / international airline tickets, airport taxes, visa fees, specific camera / video fees, additional transportation cost from and to the general pick-up / drop-off regions (such as airports, out-of-town resorts, ports, harbours and accommodation in surrounding towns)
  • Any accommodation expenses of a personal nature. This includes (compulsory festive) meals and drinks, mini-bar consumption, laundry, room service, any telephone or other communication cost not mentioned in the program
  • International travel and medical insurance coverage for customers


  • In line with the programme, customers are strongly advised to spend the night prior to the start of this package in Siem Reap.
  • The accommodation used during this tour is simple accommodation with basic amenities. This may include no air-conditioning (fan only), lack of Wi-Fi and/or warm water. Due to the location of our overnight address and aligned with the concept of this soft-adventure experience
  • To avoid any issues pertaining obtaining an arrival visa at the airport, please ensure that your passport contains at least two empty pages for every single entry in and out of the country. Failure to do so may result in not gaining entrance into the Kingdom of Cambodia
  • We will do all possible to comply with any dietary requirements during this tour; it may not always be possible to confirm your wishes in advance based on the choice of local restaurant
  • This food-themed tour along local restaurants and food stalls may not be suitable for customers who are vegetarians or have specific food allergies
  • Guests traveling over and during local holidays may experience longer waiting times than normal, may see certain sites being closed down, and this program may be subject to supplementary charges
  • Natural elements of any kind have a destructive effect on electronic equipment. It the customer’s own responsibility to ensure that any camera, mobile telephone or other device is properly wrapped and protected against these elements. We cannot be held responsible in any way for negligence and/or not following suggestions for any damage related to this
  • We reserve the right to make necessary changes to the tour in case of unfavourable weather conditions or situations where we are forced to make alterations to guarantee the safety of our guests
  • Tours and excursions often include obstacles of various kinds that may not make this excursion suitable for wheelchair users or guests with limited mobility
  • The protection of the country’s flora, fauna and its historical and cultural treasures is of immense importance for us. We will not pursue any activities that are not in line with our animal, wildlife and environment protection principles
  • Guests traveling over and during local holidays may experience longer waiting times than normal, may see certain sites being closed down, and this program may be subject to supplementary charges
  • Please ensure that you bring sunglasses, a hat /cap and sunblock with a high SPF factor when traveling with us. Even when it is cloudy, the sun still has an immense power
  • All mentioned times, durations and stops are based on approximations and may change due to unforeseen circumstances, weather and traffic conditions beyond our control


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