People tend to visit Cambodia for its temples but I encourage you to go further. Explore beyond its temples and get lost in its jungles. Cambodia is an ideal country to go trekking. It has landscapes with jungles, mountain ranges, lakes and waterfalls to discover on your trek. The best time to visit is November, just after the rainy season has ended which runs from May to October. There are many places to go hiking in Cambodia. Here are my personal top 5.
Top 5 Cambodia Trails:
1- Cardamom Mountains: The Cardamoms bring together 16 different ecosystems. If you are lucky, you will come across Malayan sun bears, leopards, elephants and the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins. As you walk down the narrow trail you will come across elephant tracks the size of plates. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw these tracks. Indeed an amazing experience. Watch out for leeches when walking through the exotic plants and giant ferns.
2- Mondulkiri: This mountainous nature reserve is great if you are looking for an easy trek. The Mondulkiri province is enormously rich in various natural resources to be explored, such as majestic mountains, rainforest, indigenous wildlife, pine plantation, impressive waterfalls, small rivers, waterfront parks, etc. You can trek up hills/mountains, ride on elephants, visit waterfalls, and learn about the daily life of the ethnic minorities. As you can see Mondulkiri offers all sorts of options and trails.
3- Virachey National Park: It is the largest National Park in Cambodia. This largely unexplored park has great mountains for trekking, semi-evergreen lowlands, forests, savannah and bamboo woods. The Ministry of Environment offers treks through the park to protect the forest by financing rangers, and also providing villagers with an income to replace that lost to hunting prohibitions. There are 3 to 7 day treks as well as excursions to O’Tabok Stream, which is good for bird spotting picnicking and swimming.
4- Ratanakiri: Is a jungle trek with hill tribes and diverse landscapes. You will see wildlife and tribal hunting. The most famous attraction is the volcanic Lake Yeak Laom (giant circle). There is a 2.5km hiking trail around the lake which allows you to enjoy its beautiful setting.
5-Phnom Samkos: Phnom Samkos is the second highest peak. There are few defined footpaths, it is not an easy trek. You must take all provisions yourself. It helps to speak a bit of khmer as their English is limited. The highest mountain (Phnom Aural) is also possible to trek up.
Tips Before you travel to Cambodia:
- Travel Insurance: It is crucial you have travel insurance before you travel to Cambodia. Medical care isn’t cheap and payment for emergency care is required in advance. Without insurance you won’t be receiving care.
Leaving aside the medical care, your travel insurance covers other situations such as: canceled trips to delayed flights, from stolen cameras to lost baggage.
Just make sure your travel insurance has a high coverage limit and covers the activities you’re going to do.
- Visa: There are several types of visas for Cambodia: Tourist visa, Business or Ordinary Visa, Diplomatic Visa and the e-Visa.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation began to allow the use of e-Visa’s in 2006, in order to make visa applications easier and quicker. This is a single entry visa with a validity of 3 months. This visa allows a maximum stay of 30 days. You may apply for a Cambodia tourist visa online through the following link.
Apply for an e-Visa in 3 Easy Steps!
- Fill out an online application
- Pay the service fee $37
- Print email with e-Visa and show at the checkpoint in Cambodia
Information source: Cambodia government website