Exploring Cambodia – 21 Top Places To Visit

Angkor Wat Archaeological Park

National Museum of Cambodia

The Royal Palace

Phnom Kulen

Cambodia Landmine Museum

Wat Phnom

 

Sambor Prei Kuk

Bokor Mountain, Kampot

Crab Market, Kep

Bamboo Train, Battambang

Preah Vihear

Russian Market

Ream National Park

Mekong River

The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek

Wat Langka

Cardamom Mountains

Check the Koh Kong chapter for information on the fried from Koh Kong to Pailin, which cuts through the Cardamom Mountains on the western edge of Pursat province. The Cardamom Mountains of Koh Kong and Pursat provinces are said to be the most pristine wilderness area remaining in Southeast Asia. This ride takes you through the area.The Cardamom Mountains are located in southwest Cambodia. The western edge of the Cardamom region abuts the Thai border, while the easternmost part ends about sixty miles northwest of the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. The region’s area is 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares). The highest point in the range (and in Cambodia) is Mount Aural, at 1,813 meters (5,946 feet). There are five main rivers that run through the Cardamoms, creating dozens of waterfalls. About 25,000 people live in this region, some of whom are ethnic minorities, such as the Porr.

There are two wildlife sanctuaries in the Cardamoms, both of which were decreed by King Norodom Sihanouk in 1993 solely on the basis of aerial photographs. Mt. Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary is in the western part of the range, and Mt. Aural Wildlife Sanctuary is in the east. These are “paper”parks only: they exist only by law, with none of the active management necessary for a wildlife preserve.Khmer Rouge guerrillas retreated to the Cardamoms after losing power in 1979, and for the next twenty years, no one wanted to enter that area for fear of the KR and the mines they placed in it. As a result, the region remained untouched and undeveloped. Thousands of Cambodians left the country before and during the KR holocaust by walking over the Cardamoms into refugee camps in Thailand.Today, the Cardamom Mountains region is the largest wilderness in mainland Southeast Asia, preserving a remarkable number of species that are endangered (and in some cases extinct) elsewhere in the world. However, without proper conservation and protection, this area and its inhabitants are now at the mercy of logging interests, as well as poachers.

Densely covered with lush virgin rainforest and rising to it’s highest point at over 1,770m, the Cardamoms extend over an area of 4,420,000 hectares (10,922,060 acres) covering a large portion of SouthWestern Cambodia. The Cardamoms are considered to represent Southeast Asia’s greatest natural resources in terms of virgin forest and wildlife habitats that have never been fully explored and/or catalogued. In 2000, Fauna and Flora International, Conservation International, and the Cambodian Ministry of Environment and Wildlife Protection Programme conducted a joint survey that covered only a small part of the vast expanse of unexplored land. Despite the minimal area under observation the survey identified 30 large mammal species, 30 small mammal species, more than 450 birds, 64 reptiles, 30 amphibians, and many other plants and insects. To name just a few of the animals indigenous to this area would include elephants, tigers, clouded leopards and a variety of other mammals such as the Malaysian sun bear, pleated gibbons, and Siamese crocodiles all of which are high on the endangered species list and the only significant population thought to exist anywhere.

Fauna & Flora International was the first to conduct extensive field surveys in the Cardamom Mountains of south-west Cambodia. These established the area as one of the last forest wilderness areas in mainland south-east Asia. Isolated by their remoteness and rugged terrain and forgotten during years of conflict in Cambodia, the Cardamoms have at their core a virtually undisturbed forest covering over 10,000 square kilometres. The Cardamom Mountain Wildlife Sanctuaries Project, a joint venture of Fauna & Flora International and Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment, aims to ensure the long-term conservation of a landscape of global importance and its biodiversity while reducing poverty and ensuring essential national development. The focus is to establish and maintain management systems in two protected areas in south-west Cambodia: Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary and Phnom Aural Wildlife Sanctuary.The Cardamom Mountains are now known to contain almost all the country’s known mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. This is partly due to the very high diversity of habitats, some of which occur nowhere else in Cambodia, such as large expanses of fire-regulated ferns, upper montane forest, high elevation marshes and blackwater rivers.

Kratie

is one of Cambodia’s eastern provinces with less population, who make their lives on the riverbanks of the Mekong. Beyond the riverbanks it is a remote place with almost no population and thick-forested areas to calm down. The provincial capital is also called Kratie and lies also on the banks of the mighty Mekong River, which emboss the province from the North to the South.

The stretch of the river around Kratie town is home to a group of rare sweet water Irrawaddy dolphins. Therefore the dolphins are the main tourist attraction of the province and the town. The river also has hundreds of green island, and circling water, which are also attracting some tourists. Kratie town is sleepy but picturesque with sandbars and big islands out front and bends in the river. Unlike in many towns around Cambodia, the war years were fairly kind to the French architecture and the roads, at least in the town itself.

There are some nice-looking homes of French and Khmer style scattered about, adding to the pleasant feel of the place. You’ll also find a bustling market which is a great place to watch frogs being skinned (and escaping first through the holes in the nets), sample some delicious foods (such as freshly grilled corn cakes) and generally take in rural Cambodian life. The rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins make their home in the Mekong River, just north of Kratie. With only around 120 remaining, they are surely worth a visit.

Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple

Heading out from Kep, journey into the surrounding countryside. We stop first at Phnom Chhnork, a large cave that contains a 7th century brick temple in remarkable condition. We then stop at the cave complex of Phnom Sorsia, a holy mountain peppered with shrines and grottoes.

After lunch we continue on to the little town of Kompong Trach. For a long time this place was forgotten, as the civil war kept it off the map, but the new border crossing with Vietnam has seen a bit of a boom. We stop at the interesting cave temple of Wat Kirisan, built into the base of Phnom Sor. We travel through a small cave to a hidden chamber open to the elements, the sheer walls dripping with foliage. There are several hidden shrines here, as well as the Cave of a Thousand Ricefields, where locals claim the limestone looks like terraces. Later we return to Kep or check in to a hotel in Kampot.he caves of Phnom Ta aun are part of a limestone formation. Narrow cave, chimney, passages with rock formations. A bit more interesting are the caves at Phnom Sia. One cave contains a supposedly elephant shaped rock formation that is treated as a shrine. Bring a flashlight.Limestone mountains (phnom) dot the landscape between Kampot and Kep. Many contain limestone caves, some adorned with exotic rock formations, and almost all containing Buddhist shines. Make sure to bring a torch and wear shoes suitable for climbing on rocks.

On your sightseeing trip to Kampot you would find that there are various places of attraction in and around Kampot. The caves near Kampot, Kampot are other famous attractions for those tourists who are on a sightseeing trip to Kampot. These caves near Kampot, Kampot are nothing but limestone formations which you would find all through the stretches between Kampot and Kep. These limestone caves near Kampot, Kampot sometimes house exotic rock formations and in almost all the caves near Kampot, Kampot you would find Buddhist shrines. When you plan to visit these caves near Kampot in Kampot make sure that you are carrying a torch and have put on proper trekking shoes.Among the caves near Kampot, Kampot, the first caves that you would come across are that of the caves of Phnom Chhnork.

The first of these caves have pre-Angkorian ruins within the limestone caves. You would find various brick structures of 5th century AD amongst the stalagmites and stalactites that are formed within the cave. You would also find 4th century structures which are the evidences of the state of Funan. While you enter the cave you would find limestone formations in the shapes of elephants. The entrance of the second cave lies about 300 meters from the first cave and to reach there you have to climb various piles of rocks and go through small openings. You would find a small shrine too in the second cave.

Popokvil Waterfall

Popokvil waterfall is situated on Bokor Mountain – a popular destination for tourists in Kampot Province thanks to its pleasant cool weather and beautifully landscaped hill. Just a few kilometers calculated from the hill station, the falls lie right at the edge of the highland march which covers much of the mountain-top. Because of the poor state of these bridges that cross the streams zig-zaggin over the hill, you will have no choice except walking the last kilometer to the waterfalls. It is pretty pleasant to walk, and if you are lucky enough, you may even catch sight of some interesting wild-life, such as giant red squirrels or monkeys. Even when coming to the waterfall might be a little bit challenging, but as soon as you see at firsthand the natural beauty of the falls, then you absolutely know, with no doubt, that it is definitedly worth your efforts. Walking to the waterfalls might be challeging but totally worth. The waterfall’s name, Popocvil, in Khmer, means “Swirling clouds” which is absolutely appropriate as almost every time, the waterfall is covered above by a thick mist that makes it look like an amazing scense in heaven. Popokvil Waterfalls is a two tiers waterfall with its first tier is around 15-metre high while the second one is about 18m high. The most ideal time to visit this waterfall is during the rainy season, from June to October because the waterfall is the most beautiful at this time. Popokvil waterfall is not only a great place for a swim on a sweltering day but also a very nice place to take pictures. Visit Popokvil Waterfalls with Tours to Cambodia

 

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