Kulen Mountain and ancient temples
We will depart from your hotel at 7:00 am, jump in the car and let’s go for a jungle adventure. Please be aware, that Angkor tickets are not valid there and an entrance fee is $20 US.
Kulen Mountain jungle (Phnom Kulen) is about 50 km away from Siem Reap. It is a magical place where once was an ancient Khmer city Mahendraparvata with wide streets, lakes and water channels. There were more than fifty temples and sanctuaries, which dates back to 7th century, the pre-Angkorian time.
There is also a stunning 20m high waterfall. You can visit a huge reclining Buddha statue carved to the peak of a giant rock boulder.
1000 lingams – Hundreds of lingams are carved to the nearby rocky river bed.
Usually, I recommend visiting the waterfall first, due to the direction of the light, then go for lingams and reclining Buddha statue. Then we can go and explore ancient temples and huge statues of lions and elephants as well as reliefs carved in rocks.
We will visit an old pyramid, where the king Jayavarman II. was proclaimed a God King (Deva Raja). That’s the place where he has established Khmer Empire in the year 802. We will have a lunch in the hidden Buddhist monastery with a secret cave sanctuary. It would be very nice if you can bring rice or other food to the Buddhist monks, who live there. Otherwise, if you don’t want to carry the food, you can give them a small amount of money, so they can buy it themselves. It is difficult to say how many temples we can visit in one day. It depends on how long time we spend in particular places. Usually, it is 4 – 5 temples.
The tour in the jungle is a bit tough and adventurous as we ride over the rocks, narrow and sometimes deep sand tracks on the Kulen plateau. The reward is remote magic places which you can’t find anywhere else and there will be nobody, except you, a few locals on the way and perhaps hermit monks.
We will be back in your hotel around 5:00 pm.
The cars are allowed to drive up to the hill until the noon only, so they can go back down the hill in the afternoon. If you like to see the waterfall, reclining Buddha statue, lingams, and surroundings, there is no problem. It is easy to get there by car and then simply hiking around. A lunch break is at a local restaurant with no air-conditioning. We will leave Kulen mountain in the late afternoon and on the way back we can visit the jewel of Khmer architecture, Banteay Srei temple. In that case, you will need a valid Angkor pass as well.
If you want to visit these old temples in the jungle, we will need to hire a motorbike with an experienced driver. We need to take food and water with us, as there is no place to buy it.
It is quite a tough ride, so you should be in a good physical shape.