Day Trip to Phnom Kulen Mountain from Siem Reap
Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Enjoy this fascinating tour that will take you back in time to the beginnings of the ancient Khmer Empire in 802 AD, proclaimed independent at this Holy Mountain, which started the so-called “Angkor Period”. Your guide will show you the many historic ruins including Linga stands.
This tour is 7 hours long and runs from 8am to 3pm.
Once you get picked up by your guide at 8:00am in Siem Reap, you will head off to the Kulen mountain, in an AC minivan. Along the way you will see beautiful scenery including rice paddies and rural Cambodian villages where you can observe the locals in their daily lives.
Phnom Kulen is an isolated chain of small mountain plateaus, of moderate height, lying south of the Dângrêk Mountains. The range stretches for about 40km in a West North West – East South East direction and is located some 48km north of Siem Reap.
Its highest point is 487m and its height is quite regular, averaging 400m all along the range.
Geologically, Phnom Kulen is formed of sandstone. It was important as a quarry in Angkorian times, the major quarries being located in the southeastern angle of the massif. This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on September 1, 1992 in the Cultural category.
On arrival at Kulen Mountain you will begin to climb up the path through jungle. Your guide will stop along the way to point out the many points of interest, including the ancient ruins of temples including the famous Linga river carvings, or a Pagoda on the mountain, before getting to chill in the waterfall and swim in the pools, while contemplating the crucial moment in history that this place is connected to.
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 also has a major symbolic importance for Cambodians as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire, for it was at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarman II proclaimed independence from Java in 804 CE. He initiated the Devaraja cult of the king, a linga cult, in what is dated as 804 CE and declaring his independence from Java of whom the Khmer had been a vassalage state (whether this is actually “Java”, the Khmer chvea used to describe Champa, or “Lava” (a Lao kingdom) is debated, as well as the legend that he was earlier held as a ransom of the kingdom in Java. During the Angkorian era the relief was known as Mahendraparvata (the mountain of Great Indra).
The Khmer Rouge used the location as a final stronghold as their regime came to an end in 1979.
After you have experienced the historical beauty of Kulen you will stop for lunch and drinks before returning to your accommodation in Siem Reap.