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Phnom Kulen Camping: An exciting jeep tour

Discovering a piece of Cambodian culture while experiencing the simple life in nature. These are the elements of our 2-day Kulen mountain camping tour  by jeeps had no clue what to expect from this kulen mountain camping jeep tour. But I did realize that the mountain is often forgotten by visitors who only have an eye for Angkor Wat. Actually, the stones used to build the Angkor temple complex were taken from Phnom Kulen. Early morning, Cambodiajeep’s team members pick me up with their sturdy jeeps. Robust and maneuverable machines, miltary jeeps producing the roaring sound of adventure. I immediately understand what it must have felt like for American soldiers to drive through this country during the Vietnam War. A cap on my head, as an imaginary helmet, my elbow loosely to the side of the vehicle and off we go!

phnom kulen jeep tours
 Phnom Kulen jeep expedition

The drivers took the group to the bottom of the steps, leading to Preah Ang Choub Pagoda: beautifully located on the flank of the mountain. Apprentice monks and dancing ladies await us there, next to two swimming pools in the middle of nature. But the jeep drivers are impatient and want to take me further into the forest. They bring me to a stunning viewpoint on top of the mountain and to our picnic place, next to the famous waterfalls. Cold season or not, I couldn’t resist putting my head under the pouring water and enjoying a relaxing afternoon swim. Two more cultural visits are on the agenda that first day. The famous Preah Ang Thom pagoda, to begin with. The blue Cambodiajeeps-caps, which we received as a gift, are very trendy. We’re kindly asked to take them off while visiting the giant reclining Buddha statue inside. Not that there’s an actual road leading to it, but the jeeps manage to take us to another pagoda: Preah Kral. Isolated stupas in a mystical environment are the ideal background for a sunset over the forest.




As the monks begin their peaceful evening prayers, we set out for a journey through the dark. The rocky landscape looks like the lunar surface to me. We have to find our way, avoiding bushes and trees, muddy patches, and hazardous potholes. Only lit by the glow of the jeep’s headlights. But thanks to the drivers’ craftsmanship and a high tech navigation system, we make it to the final destination of this day: the campsite, where our tents are already set up and the barbecue is smoldering.

kulen mountain camping
Campfire at Phnom Kulen

After dinner, we gather around the campfire, where local guide mister Pech tells us all about this ancient mountain and the rich history of this place, at a stone’s throw from Cambodia’s touristic highlight. Only the lights of the ferris wheel, clearly visible in the night, reveal the presence of the city. Nothing beats a simple yet cozy sleeping place for a good night’s rest. No city noises, no cars or bars. I only hear nature sounds, bringing me sweet dreams. In the early morning light, I can have a closer look at the surroundings of this camping site. The moonscape hides a little pond, ideal for a cold but refreshing morning bath. After a nice breakfast, we visit another waterfall.



phnom kulen waterfall
Phnom Kulen waterfall

Part of this kulen mountain camping tour, we were ready  for the biggest treasure of Phnom Kulen. Hidden in the heart of the forest, at a place where even the jeeps can’t take us. After a thirty minutes walk through the woods, we discover the ancient elephant statue. There are several other sculpted animals in the middle of the jungle, such as lions, a tiger, Preah Koo and the baby elephant. Mister Pech, again, knows all about the origin and the meaning of these mysterious masterpieces. Mister Pech then invites us for lunch in his house, before we start the dazzling descent on the other side of the mountain. On our way back, we stop at the Toek Chub forest for a walk into darkish and fairytalelike swamp woods with mangrove trees. And as we pass by the idyllic country life at the outskirts of Siem Reap, we slowly enter the city again. A beer in Pub Street, anyone? Welcome back to reality. I have enjoyed this Kulen mountain camping tour by jeeps very much. Have you been getting more interested in this tour? Please contact us to book a tour with us.