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Phnom Kulen


Phnom Kulen is considered by Khmer people to be the most sacred mountain in Cambodia and is a popular place of pilgrimage. It played a significant role in the history of the Khmer empire as it was from here in 802 that Jayarvarman II proclaimed independence from Java, giving birth to modern Cambodia.

There is a small wat at the summit of the mountain which houses a large reclining Buddha carved into a sandstone boulder. As at Kobal Spien, at no point should you wander off well-used paths as there is a serious landmine problem here.

From the base of the mountain it is a long climb to the top, at least one-and-a-half hours even at a good pace. At the top a mostly shaded and flat path takes no more than 30 to 45 minutes before you reach a small river, into the bed of which are carved numerous lingas. There is a waterfall nearby in which you can swim, and an overgrown temple dating from the Angkor period, but think twice before climbing around it as there may be landmines inside. From the top of Phnom Kulen, 461 metres at its highest point, the spectacular view spans right across the forested plateau.

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