After several months of precaution and anxiety due to the pandemic, everyone is looking forward to five days of public holidays – set for August 17 to 21 – in lieu of the COVID-induced postponement of Khmer New Year in April. In case you don’t know where to spend your days off, here are the places we recommend, all of which are far from the bustling crowd of the city.
Hoang Waterfall is now a popular tourist destination in the Tboung Khmum province, which was split from Kampong Cham in 2013. Despite its popularity, it remains quite tough to reach even today, having to travel on a desolate, serpentine dirt path that branches off from National Road No 8. The site gives you a chance to catch the wondrous sight of the waterfall complemented by a cliff, a rocky hill, a cave and surrounding tropical trees with tangled vines. It is one of the few places in Cambodia where you can find a landscape with all of these natural elements in a freeze-frame not unlike a photograph. You can literally dive deep into the adventure by jumping into the stream – the most natural thing to do when people come here on a hot day. Another activity you must not miss is exploring the ‘hermit’ cave, a dark cave so deep that no one knows what mystery it holds. As the name implies, people say it was once a dwelling place of hermits who escaped the outside world for an ascetic life.
It is every climber’s dream to reach the top of Mount Everest but since you are here in Cambodia, why don’t you try climbing Phnom Aural, the highest peak in the Kingdom? Standing at 1,813 metres, this off-the-beaten-track summit is located in Aural town, Kampong Speu province. Along the route, explorers will pass by the Srae Kan Bei village. Thereafter you’ll find the unpaved and twisting road and breathtaking scenery. Relatively few passionate trekkers come to conquer the mountains, explore the ethnic culture and cherish the primitive jungles. Reaching there is quite a challenge so it is better to use a service from travel agencies such as We Travel or My Adventure Drive (check their Facebook pages for more details).
Botum Sakor National Park
Koh Kong province’s Botum Sakor National Park, the Kingdom’s largest national park, covers an area of over 171,000 hectares. The massive ecologically protected parkland is home to some of the world’s endangered species, including the Pileated gibbon, Sunda pangolin, Bengal slow loris and the Indochinese tiger, along with tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of tropical fauna and flora. Thanks to Cardamom Tented Camp, which was founded by Wildlife Alliance in 2017, travellers can visit the park and reconnect with nature through activities such as camping, trekking and kayaking. We recommend the promotional three-day, two-night package, which costs $175 and is inclusive of food and drinks (except for alcohol). Going there also give you a good feeling since the CTC contributes 20 percent of their earnings to the park rangers.
Mountains in Battambang
With a long holiday in your pocket, it is a good opportunity for you to go on a trek in Battambang’s green area and see closely the wonders of the province’s famous mountains such as Sampov, Banan and Ek Phnom, which have become spectacular tourist spots thanks to their green splendor and mountaintop temples. While the mountains could be found easily with Google maps, we nevertheless recommend coming in groups or with a local guide. Don’t miss the chance to get on the infamous bamboo trains and visit the Bat Cave at sunset to see the nocturnal mammals flock out – a view that has left many awe-struck.