See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskZDjkQs
Tours to Phnom Kulen National Park normally cost around $32 USD which is a little outrageous. However, this is because the park is privately owned and the entry fee is a steep $20 USD. Mount Kulen is considered by Khmers to be the most sacred mountain in Cambodia.
I decided to rent a motorbike and go on my own because I really wanted to see the waterfall featured in the movie “Tomb Raider”. It took about an hour and a half to get to the park entrance from Siem Reap. The drive there was gorgeous! I passed oodles of fields with grazing water buffalo and small stalls along the roadside. Several beer trucks passed along the way.
The road into the park had unpaved sections which weren’t too bad compared to the “roads” on Nusa Penida in Bali.
As you approach the waterfalls the first one you view is quite small, only four of five meters high. It was very refreshing just to stand underneath and feel the cool. There were beautiful butterflies everywhere in the park!
The second waterfall or better known as the “Tomb Raider Waterfall” is another five minute hike down a dirt path. It is 15 to 20 meters high and absolutely spectacular! A group of about thirty monks arrived shortly after I did. They greatly enjoyed swimming in the holy water and I chatted with a couple of them.
Further on from the waterfall lies “The River of a Thousand Lingas”. Just under the water’s surface are over 1000 small carvings etched into the sandstone riverbed. The carvings represent fertility and the water is very sacred to Hindus. It was amazing to see.
On my way back I stopped by the Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre to check out some of the 32 species of butterflies native to Cambodia. I also saw some large and colourful caterpillars, an adorable tree frog, and several large moths.