A Hike to Kbal Spean: The Road Less Taken in Siem Reap

A Hike to Kbal Spean: The Road Less Taken in Siem Reap

On your next trip to Siem Reap, venture off the beaten path by hiking Kbal Spean.

Cambodia is synonymous to well-preserved ruins, beautiful temples and magnificent architecture. Today, let’s uncover a path less taken in Cambodia. When you head to Siem Reap, make sure you try something off-beat. Keep half a day aside for hiking all the way up to Kbal Spean. Don’t worry; it’s not a tough trail. It’s an easy one, where you will encounter lovely views, jump through roots and walk uphill to unveil the sight of a thousand lingas.

Also read: Off the Touristy Path: A Different Side of Siem Reap

Image credit: Lyf&Spice

The hike

The journey to Kbal Spean takes about 45 minutes from the city centre. The best way to get there would be to hire a cab or book a car the previous day. Taking a tuk tuk might be more of a bumpy and time-consuming ride. You could club the trip with a visit to Banteay Srei.

kbal spean

Image credit: Lyf&Spice

Some of the figures and depictions to look out for:

  • Lord Brahma sitting on a lotus
  • Reclining carving of Lord Vishnu on the serpent God Ananta
  • Animal motifs including bulls
  • A river bed full of small Shiv lingas
  • Gods etched on the inner bed of the pool above

Image credit: Andrew and Annemarie

You will enjoy the hike if you take it slow and look around. On reaching the top of the hill, do not confine yourselves to the central spot. Venture further up, take detours both to the left and right and find the path dipping slightly to a hollow valley of butterflies and dried leaves (during summers) or waterfall (during the rainy season). There are enough points to stop and rest under sheds and shelters. Carry your own bottle of water and snacks if needed, as there are no shops or eateries up there. Additionally, if you want a detailed explanation on each of the motifs and figurines and the exact path to traverse, you could hire a guide as well.

Also read: Top 10 Hiking Getaway Destinations in Southeast Asia

Additional points

Image credit: Andrew and Annemarie

  • During the rainy season, the waterfall is in play and the beds are filled with relatively fresh water.
  • However, the dry season offers more visibility of the motifs and an easier hike uphill.
  • The parking lot has good washrooms.
  • There are restaurants at the entrance serving delicious local curry and Cambodian food. Besides, tender coconut water is always available.
  • Sturdy sports shoes are the best bets for the hike.
  • The climb will take approximately 30-40 minutes. Total time needed = 2 hours.

About Kbal Spean

Image credit: Andrew and Annemarie

Kbal Spean at Kullen Hills, is an archaeological site that houses one thousand lingas and figurines by the Stung Kbal Spean River, thus, also known as the Valley of Thousand Lingas. The river is believed to branch out as a tributary of the Siem Reap River. Gods, animal figures and other Hindu mythological characters have been beautifully carved along the river bed. You need to venture out to both the sides atop the hill, for different views.

Carved right at the river bed, these sandstone structures speak a lot of the belief and religion back in time. They date back to the 11th and 12th centuries, believed to have begun during the rule of King Suryavarman I and ended during that of King Udayadityavarman II. It took quite some time to discover this ignored site, and its doors finally opened to visitors in 1989.

Also read: 13 Photos that Show You the Beauty of Siem Reap Beyond Angkor Wat

To do or not to do?

While some people might complain that the view is not exceptionally breath-taking, if you understand the significance of hiking all the way to an 11th century preserved site, you will realize that it is rewarding in its own way… Have fun!

About Author

Aditi Shukla
Aditi Shukla

Aditi Shukla is a blogger, content writer and editor, and an avid traveller, foodie and music fanatic. She believes travel helps to communicate with the world, broaden your horizon and simply have fun! Her motto is to travel and eat as much as she can around the globe and share her experiences to inspire others. She runs her blog Lyf&Spice to share her travel experiences, gourmet journeys and lifestyle tips.

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