Ba Phnom

Ba Phnom is one of the earliest religious and cultural sites in the Kingdom of Cambodia, dating back to the 5th century and the time of the mysterious Funan. Some scholars consider it a birthplace of Cambodian nation, in the same way that Phnom Kulen is revered as the first capital of Angkor. It remained as important pace of pilgrimage for kings of the subsequent empires of Chenla and Angkor and continued to be place of spiritual significance into the 19th century, but it’s past conceals a darker side of human sacrifice. Today there is little left to see considering the site’s extensive history. At the eastern extremity of the small group of hills lie the kitsch ruins of an 11th-century temple known as Preah Vihear Chann . The temple was evidently destroyed by the ravages of time, but has been rebuilt by the local monastery using a few original blocks and a whole lot of cement, all set under a corrugated roof. There is a modern wat at the base of the hill and a series of concrete steps lead up to the slope to some small pagodas on the summit. It is only really worth the detour for those who have a keen interest in early Cambodian history, as for the casual visitor there is unfortanately little to see. To get to Ba Phnom from Phnom Penh, head east on road No 1 and turn north at Kompong Suong, as over 9km east of Neak Luong. Follow this dirt road for 3km before turning right and bearing east along the base of the hill. After another 7km, turn left under a wat-style arch and head to the bottom of the hill. Those without wheels can engage the services of a moto in Neak Luong for about US$4 for a round trip. It may be cheaper to take two remoque-moto (trailers pulled by motorcycles), first from Neak Luong to Kompong Suong, then from there to Ba Phnom, but will require a bit of walking from Ba Phnom village to the foot of the hill, and a lot more time.

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