Cambodia: Waterfall hopping in Ratanakiri

We fell in love with the natural beauty of the hidden treasures of Ratanakiri, which are off-the-beaten-track and unbeknownst to the tourist crowds. So, since Ratanakiri is home to stunning waterfalls we decided to do waterfall hopping.

Cha Ong Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Cha Ong Waterfall

We went there during the rainy season and we could only visit 4 waterfalls as some roads were not accessible – very slippery, very muddy. On our way to the falls, I felt like I was traveling back to the earliest beginning of the world when the big trees were kings. We saw a lot of plantations and some impenetrable forest. The air was cold, thick and sluggish, and there was no joy in the brilliance of the sun.

Ratanakiri

The water level of each waterfall was huge and strong, and the sound was impressive. The waterfalls were all gorgeous, refreshing, cool and each one is picture perfect.

If walking through dense jungle and lush green canopies is your idea of fun, then waterfall hopping in Ratanakiri should be on your Cambodia’s bucket list. So to help you on your next adventure, here’s our top 4 best and more accessible waterfalls in Ratanakiri for you to discover.

Ratanakiri

Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall

It has 7 steps and it is located in a deep jungle surrounded by beautiful landscapes. The water flows throughout the year. On the way to the waterfall, you will see villages and mines. You can also visit the zircon gemstones mining company.

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ka Chanh Waterfall

The waterfall is 12 meters high. One of the main attractions there is the suspension bridge right before the waterfall – great photo on the hanging bridge. There were also traditional houses in the area for you to explore. Once there, we got some amazing pictures and truly enjoyed the experience. For us it is the most charming waterfall.

Ka Chanh Waterfall

Ka Chanh Waterfall

Ka Chanh Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

It is about 10 meters high and it’s in an interesting geological formation which has resulted in a cave forming into the cliff that faces both sides of the water. The highlight there is the elephant ride on the top of the waterfall, and feeding and bathing the elephants.

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha ong waterfall is amazing and our favorite because you can go behind and explore a bit – there’s like a huge cave behind the waterfall. It is surrounded by such splendid nature and it is very jungle like.

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

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Cambodia: 4×4 off-road adventure in Ratanakiri

Before we set off on our trip in Ratanakiri, we didn’t really plan for off-road rides. However, while we were there, we thought that off-roading was such a great way to tour especially in Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri as it really takes you to those hidden beautiful spots, and since we have this attitude of “hell yeah, let’s go!” so, off we went.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

So, after our off-road adventure in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy trails, I thought, I would share our beautiful experience and some of the things I learnt.

Our off-road ride was actually both an awesome and a scary adventure, especially when our car

  • was tilted 30 degrees and still running through muddy roads,
  • was moving sideways,
  • was swaying while gliding through the mud,
  • was a few centimeters away from big deep holes,
  • when our car got stuck in the mud.

It was indeed a bit of an adventure and a great four wheel drive!

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

We went past plantations after plantations. We drove past hills and more hills. We went through the jungle. We visited different waterfalls and some far-flung villages.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

On the first day of our off-road rides, we didn’t get stuck. On the second day, after the heavy rains, we got stuck in the mud, but our driver was able to unstuck our car from mud after about 20 minutes. Then, we rested somewhere in the middle of nowhere. It was quite frustrating but at the same time fun.

Off-roading. Relaxing in the middle of nowhere after we got stuck in the mud.

The second time we got stuck, it took so long for our driver to unstuck our car and the brake was broken, so we had to walk and took the car at the bottom of the hill.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

Three things I’ve learnt about this trip are:

  • Thoroughly check the car before going off-roading.
  • Drive slowly and carefully to avoid skidding on a muddy road.
  • Stay calm and focused. Don’t panic especially when you get stuck in the mud.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

We love spending some time off the beaten tracks. We loved the adventure, and we loved the breathtaking scenery. Undeniably, it was the best and the most amazing off-roading experience we’ve ever had.

 

Taking our Son to see the Temples of Angkor

Last weekend, we took our 10 year old little wanderer to Siem Reap to show to him one of the most amazing places in the world – the temples of Angkor, the landmark of Cambodia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was our 5th visit but it was even more special because we were showing such magnificent place to our little one for the first time.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to 15th century. I have learned that it was the largest city in the world from 1010 -1220 with about 0.1% of the world’s population. The Angkor Archaeological Park comprises of several temples such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Ta Som, Banteay Srei, and many more, and the ruins are located in the middle of the jungle between farmlands.

Angkor Wat

The temples truly are amazing! And our little explorer was amazed at the beauty of the architecture, craftsmanship, the size and the details of each monument. Even though it was very hot and humid, he was still very energetic and very keen to explore everything, walk within the structure and marvel at the architecture of so long ago.

Angkor Wat

Ta Prohm

Bayon Temple

This time, we only visited three temples – Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm.

We all love Angkor Wat the most – it is grand and majestic! We went there twice before, during sunrise and sunset and the two visits gave us different feels.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Besides Angkor Wat, we also like Ta Prohm. I think it is the most romantic temple in the entire complex as you could feel the joint venture between nature and architecture merging into the forest. Pete, our little navigator was mesmerized by the several hundred years old trees and the way they were going out of the ancient ruins. It is incredible to think that this has been hidden for centuries.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

We also enjoyed visiting Bayon Temple, the cutest of them all – it’s mystical, charming and you could see huge smiling Buddha faces everywhere.

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

Places like this certainly remain in our hearts forever and it is a wonder that you must see to experience it as pictures do not give it justice.

Angkor Archaeological Park

Angkor Archaeological Park

Angkor Archaeological Park

Angkor Archaeological Park

Little Lilly travel tip:

  • I strongly believe you must spend a minimum of 2 days and longer would be more preferable.
  • Entrance fees – 1 day=$37. 3 days=$62, 7 days= $72. Children below 12 years old don’t have to pay the entrance fee. Bring your child’s passport to show to the security otherwise you’ll have to pay for the admission fees.
  • Tuktuk charge for a day tour in Angkor complex is $15.
  • Wear proper clothes – no sleeveless, no shorts. Some temples like Angkor Wat, Baphoun, etc do not allow you to get inside if you are not properly dressed.
  • Wear comfortable shoes for walking because you have to walk a lot.
  • Bring a bottle of water to keep you from dehydration.
  • Bring a towel, an extra tee-shirt, a hat or an umbrella.
  • Bring a camera. There’s a lot opportunity to take good pictures.

 

Ta Prohm Temple: Framed by Gigantic Trees

Ta Phrom Temple is unique. It is famous for its wonderful huge old trees growing through, over and around the temples that are hundreds of years old.

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King Jayavarman VII built Ta Phrom Temple in 1186 AD. It was a Buddhist temple dedicated to his mother. It is one of the massive temples in the Angkor complex.

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The natural surroundings of the temple give a splendid feeling to the whole temple experience. We were amazed by the simplicity of this temple. We liked the bizarre growth of the trees; some of them have huge tall roots between which you could build a small house. We enjoyed looking at the trees growing on top of the stone walls. We savored seeing some lichens, mosses and other creeping plants delicately carved on the walls. We adored the way the roots coiling around the stone walls; it shows how nature has reclaimed the land. All these gave us a great impression and gave us a sense of how it would have looked like discovering Ta Phrom Temple for the first time after it had been abandoned for four to five hundred years. This is really something to behold.

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We went there in the afternoon. We found it a good timing because the leaves filter the sunlight and welcomed us with enough shade while casting some greenish light. We took many good pictures since the sun shone a fabulous glow on the trees and the temple.

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This ancient temple has continuously been receiving thronging crowds since parts of the Tomb Raider movie starring Angelina Jolie was filmed here. Even though it gets busier and busier as everyone wants to see the trees, everyone gets a turn and you can still find your own mysterious space and entangling roots with the temple.

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If you love history and photography and if you dream about such mysterious places, Ta Phrom is the perfect place for you.

 

Bayon Temple: The Temple of Faces

The Bayon Temple is my most favorite temple besides Angkor Wat in the Angkor Archeological Park even though each temple has a special something. It is one of the most enigmatic and ambiguously strong religious constructions. Today, the temple is best known for the gigantic stone face sculptures.

Bayon Temple

with my sister in Bayon Temple

This was taken during my first visit in Angkor Thom in October 2010.

The Bayon Temple is located at the centre of Angkor Thom. It was built during the late 12th century and early 13th century, about 100 years after they built Angkor Wat, during the reign of the famous King Jayavarman VII. It is considered as the second most important temple in Cambodia after Angkor Wat because it is a Buddhist temple consecrated to the Buddhist cult.

Bayon Temple

My sister in Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

As part of the Angkor Archaeological Park, Bayon Temple has been famous for its amazing collection of Buddha large, serene, smiling stone faces found on each towers. I have learned that there are about 54 towers which represent the Khmer provinces in the Great Khmer Empire period. I have also learned that there are about 200 faces which symbolize different Buddha smiling faces such as beautiful smile, glad smile, sad smile and charming smile. And, these different stone faces in the walls surely amaze each tourist.

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Visiting Bayon Temple with my sister

Bayon Temple

When we visited the Bayon Temple, I could feel the splendor and the magic from the people living during those ancient times who were able to construct all these amazing temples in the Angkor Kingdom. I loved the many smiling Buddhas in this temple. It was so peaceful and quiet. We climbed to the top of the tier of the Bayon Temple and we found great views of the tree canopy and some bird spotting. We captured a lot of beautiful pictures in there. We saw some workers who were restoring this beautiful architecture.

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

I would say that this place is an exceptional architectural heritage. The details that went into carving the faces from stones are spectacular. It was a unique experience and a pleasure to photograph. To me, the architecture plan is one of the greatest in the world.

It was my sister’s first time visit in Angkor Thom

Bayon Temple

Have you found the most smiling face?

Amazing Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Angkor Wat was the first temple that we visited together. It is really incredibly stunning. The temple`s size and architecture is very impressive and mind blowing. When we entered the Angkor Wat we had a mixture of feelings. It was a mixture of peace, spirituality, vastness and awe. How they built this temple in those days without any electric machinery or even iron tools really beats me. To me, it is truly amazing.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Taken from the top level of Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is one of the most magnificent sights in Asia. It is very well preserved and it is considered to be the largest religious monument in the world. It is the most famous tourist destinations in Cambodia which receives around two millions of visitors each year. Today, Angkor Wat is a national pride and the symbol of Cambodia. It also became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, which means “City of the Temple”, is one of the most magnificent examples of what early 12th century Cambodian architects could do. During those times, the Khmer kings believed that the gods would bestow great blessings on them and their kingdom if they build temples in honor to their gods. The kings also thought that the bigger the temple, the bigger the blessings they would. So, each generation of king surpassed his predecessor by building a bigger temple.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

It was King Suryavarman II of the Khmer Empire who built the Angkor Wat at the high of classical Khmer architecture. Initially, he dedicated Angkor Wat to a supreme Hindu god, Vishnu. But the 14th century leaders switched from Hinduism to Buddhism because they thought that Hinduism was not working for them and Angkor Wat was converted then into a Buddhist shrine.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

My sister at the top level of the Angkor Wat

Most tourists thought that Angkor Wat is the name of the entire complex. Well, no! It is actually the main temple in the Angkor complex.

Have you been to Angkor Wat? What did you like best there?