How to Get Off The Beaten Path In Cambodia

So far, I have eight visas in my passport and four of them are Cambodian visas; it’s safe to say I like traveling there alot.   Cambodia may be smaller than it’s Thai and Vietnamese counterparts, but it has alot to offer  from the majestic temples of Angkor Wat to dense jungle forests and bustling cities.  If you get off the beaten track, you will find even more  wonders to explore that will leave you entranced by the scenery and charmed by the locals’ hospitality.


Recently, I had a couple days off from work so I hopped on a plane to Phnom Penh and went exploring with a good friend of mine.  After driving approximately two hours southwest by motorbike to Kompong Speu province, we found ourselves at Kirirom National Park. 

On this particular day, the park was very quiet and we were essentially the only visitors around much to our delight!  This allowed us to really take the time to appreciate the beauty of this dense jungle and revel in the relaxing sounds of nature.   We leisurely drove our motorbike down the dirt paths in the park, savoring the cool breeze and the calming sound as it blew through the trees.  We parked by a lake and ate our packed lunches lakeside in a hut and then drove a little further into the jungle and layed down our blanket and relaxed.

 

If you are looking to get away from the hoards of tourists and touts and experience the mystery of the jungle, then this is the place to go.   It is quite easy to rent a motorbike in Phnom Penh and then take a few days to come to Kirirom or even to come as day trip like me and my friend did.  We saw signs for guesthouses in the park and I can only imagine how much more peaceful those are than the guesthouses in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.

 

Right next to Kirirom National Park is Chambok Communinty Based Eco-Tourism, a great organization that puts together homestays and outtings to see the three-tiered Chambok Waterfall while fairly employing the locals and preserving the natural environment.  My friend and I checked this out too and were blown away by the beauty of the area and the relaxed atmosphere.   We were treated to a delicious, homecooked meal in the community house and chatted with a small group of five tourists who were participating in the homestay.

After our meal, we hit the trails and hiked through the jungle to the first waterfall.  There was not another soul in sight and the sound cars and motorbikes was a distant memory.  The water at the falls was clear and clean and the trails were in excellent condition; I was very impressed with the upkeep of the trails and waterfalls.

If you are interested, Chambok Community can be reached at +85523214409 or mlup@online.com.kh.

 

Cambodia may be a small country, but there is plenty to do other than ride a tuk-tuk through Angkor Wat.  Rent a motorbike, get off the beaten path and see rural areas and experience the local way of life and be sure to savor the moment when you realize that you are in the jungles of Cambodia listening to the peaceful sounds of nature and not stuck in a cubicle banging your head on the desk!

July 20, 2011