Wake early to make the most of this adventurous day. Drive out to Preah Ang Thom Temple located at the base of Kulen Mountain. It was here that Jayavarman II gave birth to the Khmer Empire in AD 802. Trace the steps of this mighty king on the back of a motorbike.
The rugged Kulen Mountain is dotted with historic sites. Bounce along slippery country roads and tracks, over volcanic rocks and occasionally through shallow streams. The adventure is well worth the effort.
The first stop is the impressive Poeng Tbal. See the moss-covered stone carvings of Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, and other Hindu icons and learn about the early beginnings of the Khmer Empire when Hinduism was the dominate religion.
Continue to nearby Prasat Rong Chen. This 3-tiered pyramid temple is arguably the most important site in all of Cambodia. Feel the echoes of history as it was here that Jayavarman II declared himself king and announced Cambodia’s independence from Java.
Venture deeper into the jungle-covered Phnom Kulen, learning about the importance of the mountain. The quarries of Kulen Mountain provided the stones used to build Angkor Wat and its river was a main source of water for the Siem Reap River.
Take a break for lunch in a scenic spot and then continue exploring with a visit to the Bat Cave. Use torches to head into the deep cave where to visit a modern shrine that is a popular pilgrimage site.
Then it’s on to Srai Damrei to see the impressive ancient stone statues. Prepare to be amazed by the life-size Elephant Statue, which represents the mountain’s guardian, and the smaller statues of lions, a cow and a frog. Seeing these ancient carvings in the middle of the jungle is a truly unique experience and a poignant reminder of the strength of the early Khmer Empire. More stone carvings lie just around the corner at Damrei Khrap.
Loop back to Preah Ang Thom Temple, hop off the motorbike and continue by car and on foot to the River of A Thousand Lingas. After a day has been filled with incredible sites, this may be the most impressive. Stare in awe at the hundreds of linga carvings found on the bed of the river.
Before returning to Siem Reap, cool down from the day’s adventure with a swim at Kulen Waterfall. Relax and reflect back on the natural wonders of Phnom Kulen and its rich history.
Return to Siem Reap early this evening. (L)
Note: There are still some landmines in the area so it is necessary to have a local expert to keep onto the main paths and not stray into any potentially dangerous area. For the motorbike experience it is necessary to sign a waiver form.
We recommend wearing long trousers and using insect repellant for this pioneering but rewarding experience.