Why You'll Love Them ...
- Directly managed under the 1993 Royal Decree on the Protection of Natural Areas and a lot of money and human resources were put into keeping them perfectly preserved.
- Most of the national parks are not hot spots in tourism, which keeps intact and ideal for exploration. Nevertheless, the ones in our list are accessible from major destinations.
- Adding a nice adventurous touch to your trip to Cambodia, they offer something off-the-beaten track, especially for families with kids.
- Our visits to these protected areas are strictly bond by international and local laws; raising awareness of environment protection is our goal.
6 Best Picks of Cambodia's National Parks
Cambodia has a huge treasure trove for national parks and protected areas but many of them are hard to reach due to the remoteness and laid-back transportation. For those who are interested, this is an ultimate list of national parks and protected areas in Cambodia. Most of them are divided into private and public sections, the former of which are under private (mostly NGO) managements and the entrance fees from the visitors will be put into road building, facility maintainence and scientific research.
We pick out 6 best national parks that are accessible from major destinations like Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, which offers enriching factors to your trip.
1. Kulen Mountain: Day Trip in the Jungle from Siem Reap
Mountain Kulen, literally meaning "Mountain of Lychees", is located 30km northwards from Angkor Wat and can be reached within one hour from Siem Reap. It's a part of Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, also the primary sanctaury for Linga Worship.
- Major Attractions: Kbal Spean with stone lingas carved on the riverbed; Kulen Waterfall; Preah Ang Thom housing an 8-meter hall reclining Buddha; trekking in the jungles.
- Species under Protection: Mekong snail-eating turtle, Burmese python, elongated tortoise, pileated gibbon, Indochinese silver langur, Bengal slow loris and binturong
- Best Time: Better in the rainy season where the waterfall and river are at their fullest volumn.
- Time Needed: Recommended for a 1-day trekking trip
- Entrance Fee: Not included in the Angkor Wat Pass, USD20/person
- How to Get There: 40 minutes of driving from Siem Reap
2. Kirirom National Park: A Cool Splash in the Summer
Covering an area of 283.75 km2 (109.56 sq mi), Kirirom National Park is actually the eastern part of the Cardamom Mountains. With its altitude of 675m (2,215 ft), the area is cooler than the nearby capital of Phnom Penh, making it an ideal destination for a summer escape.
- Major Attractions: Waterfalls and lakes in dense pine tree forest with well-maintained pathways; the former summer retreat of King Sihanouk; a mini-zoo and a dinosaur park.
- Species under Protection: Pleated gibbon, sun bear, tiger, Asian elephants and fishing cats.
- Best Time: All-year, particularly ideal for a summer break if you are visiting during July to September, the hottest time of Cambodia.
- Time Needed: Recommended for a full-day trip; There are some basic hotels, good for a 2-day plan.
- Entrance Fee: USD5/person
- How to Get There: 2 hours from Phnom Penh on the National Road 4
3. Kep National Park: Oceanic Vistas & Mountainous Trek
The sleepy beachfront town of Kep is known for crab feasting, beautiful sunsets and easy laid-back atmosphere that is reachable within a 3-hour drive from the capital. If Kep lacks of charm as a beach destination for you, a day trekking in the beautiful national park would be a lovely option.
- Major Attractions: 8km trekking trail in good condition; mountaintop pagoda and nunnery; "Stairways to Heaven" trekking trail; Sunset Rock view point; views of the Gulf of Thailand, Phu Quoc Island of Vietnam and the Bokor Ranges in Cambodia.
- Species under Protection: Siamese crocodile, gibbons and fishing cats.
- Best Time: All-year, better start early in the morning
- Time Needed: Recommended for a full-day trip; the main town Kep has a small selection of basic accommodations if you are looking for an overnight.
- Entrance Fee: USD1/person
- How to Get There: 2 to 3 hours from Phnom Penh southweast-bound.
4. Phnom Bokor: High Hill Home for Asian Elephants
Phnom Bokor is a 1,000-meter high mountain in Virachey National Park, which is also referred as Phnom Bokor National Park, linking the Cardamom Central Mountains and a former hill station under the French ruling.It's famous for the biggest herd of Asian elephants and a wide range of wildlife roaming freely.
- Major Attractions: Hiking trail to the abandoned Catholic Church; Popokvil Falls; Wat Sampov Pram offering views over the coastline; Phnom Bokor Summit; evergreen forest with ruins dating back to the French colony era and secret footpaths.
- Species under Protection: Asian elephants, Indian elephants, Asiatic black bear, Malayan sun bear, pileated gibbon, pig-tailed macaque, slow loris, red muntjac deer, pangolin, yellow-throated martin but most of them are nocturnal and roaming freely in the remote parts of the park, very little chance to spot them during daytime.
- Best Time: All-year, the high altitude could offer a cool-off during the summer.
- Time Needed: Recommend an overnight before a full-day hiking trip, hotels can be found in the nearby town of Kampot.
- Entrance Fee: 50 US Cents/person
- How to Get There: 3 hours from Phnom Penh southweast-bound to Kampot and the park is 20km northwest of Kampot, taking about 40 minutes.
5. Ream National Park: Huge Biodiversity under Protection
Encompassing a land of 210 km2 (81 sq mi) that is divided into terrestrial and marine habitats, Ream National Park in Sihanoukville Province was set up to protect its tremendous biodiversty of rivers, forests, mangroves, estuaries, beaches, coral reefs, wildlife, and marine life, co-existing with 13 villages.
- Major Attractions: Jungle hiking; visiting fishing villages and floating villages; boat ride in the flooded mangrove forest; relaxing on the sandy beaches of Koh Rong; Prince Island (also called "Thinker Island"), Monkey Maya, and wetlands; islands of Koh Thmei and Koh Seh.
- Species under Protection: Rhesus monkey, Sarus crane, Indian pied hornbill, lesser adjutant, milky stork, and painted stork, Irrawaddy dolphin (can be seen in the rainy season), silver langur, and pangolin.
- Best Time: Better in the dry season without threats of rainstorms.
- Time Needed: Recommend for a 1-day trip with Sihanoukville as the base.
- Entrance Fee: USD5/person, travelers have to hire local ranges for the hikes, which costs USD2 to 5 per person.
- How to Get There: Fly down to Sihanoukville and the park is 18km from Sihanoukville, taking 20 minutes by car.
6. Botum Sakor: Largest Park with Little Human Trace
Facing the Gulf of Thailand to its west, Botum Sakor National Park is Cambodia's largest national park and holding the world's most unique biodiversity. Very little human habitats and the natural environment is remarkably preserved and worthy a 2-day exploration under special guiding.
- Major Attractions: Mangrove exploration, flooded plains and lowlands; mountainous trekking and beach relaxation; boat ride to the no-name islands.
- Species under Protection: Sunda pangolin, Bengal slow loris, Indochinese lutung, hog deer, dhole, fishing cat, Asian elephant, pileated gibbon, Indochinese tiger, large-toothed ferret-badger, hairy-nosed otter, smooth-coated otter, sambar deer, large-spotted civet, green peafowl, lesser adjutant, Oriental darter, grey-headed fish eagle and more.
- Best Time:All-year but better in the dry season without threats of rainstorms.
- Time Needed: Recommend for a 2-day trip and stay overnight at Cardamom Tented Camp.
- Entrance Fee: USD5/person
- How to Get There: Fly down to Sihanoukville and the park is 4 hours away from the city; travelers can also fly to Trat in Thailand and require a special pickup from the Cardamom Tented Camp
(* Valid visa for Cambodia should be obtained beforehand.)
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