A Tuk Tuk Ride to Kom Pong Pluk Floating Village

Kompong Phluk is a floating village on the banks of the Tonle-Sap-Great Lake.  Many families live here and base their livelihoods off of the local fishing.

Bros can off a trip on his Tuk Tuk to see the floating village of Kom Pong Pluk for $25 USD, see the booking page.

On a recent trip with some guests, these photos were taken, that give you a bit of a flavour of what to expect….

 

Have you visited the floating village or have questions?  Leave your comments below….

Getting from Siem Reap to Battambang by Bus or From Battambang to Siem Reap by Bus

If you’re headed from Battambang to Siem Reap, or vice versa, Siem Reap to Battambang, it may not be obvious that there’s a quicker alternative to the boat, albeit perhaps less scenic (but a big time saver).

For some reason the Mekong Express bus company’s website doesn’t list a route in Cambodia between Siem Reap and Battambang (as at November 2015)….

The Mekong Express website (http://catmekongexpress.com/) does not list a route from Siem Reap to Battambang.
The Mekong Express website (http://catmekongexpress.com/) does not list a route from Siem Reap to Battambang.

However, you can book a ticket with Mekong Express for this very route (Siem Reap to Battambang or in reverse Battambang to Siem Reap) using the generic Cambodian travel ticket booking site, CamboTicket.  Very random, but it works – exactly what I did.

Siem Reap to Battambang by bus with Mekong Express, but only available to book via CamboTicket
Siem Reap to Battambang by bus with Mekong Express, but only available to book via CamboTicket
Battambang to Siem Reap by bus with Mekong Express, but only available to book via CamboTicket
Battambang to Siem Reap by bus with Mekong Express, but only available to book via CamboTicket

Remember, if you are headed to Siem Reap, get in touch with Bros to book him in advance as your tuk tuk driver to cover pickup and your temple tours – details on the booking page here.

Vegetarian and Vegan Food in Siem Reap

If you’re looking for a decent vegetarian or vegan restaurant whilst in Siem Reap visiting the Angkor temples, look no further than Banllé.  Even if you’re not vegetarian, this is seriously worth a look.   I ate there twice and wish I’d had further opportunities.  The food is creative, interesting, presented beautifully and tastes amazing.  Service was also top notch, always with a smile, you can tell the staff and owners take pride in the restaurant.  The price is also extremely reasonable.  As a vegetarian (borderline vegan) I hadn’t found that many places to rave about in Cambodia, but Banllé certainly changed that.  Read their TripAdvisor reviews here and their own website here.

You can find Banllé at Street 26 Watbo Village | Phum Wat Bo, Siem Reap, Cambodia.  Of course, during my stay Bros dropped me off and picked me up from here in his tuk tuk and can be booked (see ‘Book‘ page) for an similar restaurant tuk tuk journeys around Siem Reap and Angkor.

The garden restaurant area of Banllé restaurant in Siem Reap. Fine vegetarian and vegan dining.
The garden restaurant area of Banllé restaurant in Siem Reap. Fine vegetarian and vegan dining.

Dinner with a Cambodian Family

Dinner with my tuk tuk driver and his family. Khymer vegetarian food.

During my stay in Siem Reap and tour of the Angkor temples, Bros my Tuk Tuk driver was kind enough to invite me to join him and his family (his wife and baby son) for dinner.  I first warned Bros that I was a vegetarian (no meat or fish), but this was no problem.  They cooked up a real feast of Khmer food, many vegetable and noodle dishes, accompanied by German beer!

Dinner with my tuk tuk driver and his family. Khymer vegetarian food.
Dinner with my tuk tuk driver and his family. Khmer vegetarian food.

 

A Motorbike Tour of the Phnom Kulen National Park, Outside Siem Reap

The waterfall at Kulen Mountain, Phnom Kulen National Park, Siem Reap.

During my time in Siem Reap I had three full days, but after the big tour and small tour I was feeling slightly ‘templed out‘.  Another traveller I’d met whilst on Koh Rong Island had shown me a photo of him pretty much under an amazing looking waterfall, I learnt this was at Kulen Mountain, Phnom Kulen National Park, about 47km (29 miles) from Siem Reap.

Siem Reap to Kulen Mountain, Phnom Kulen National Park - about 47km (29 miles).
Siem Reap to Kulen Mountain, Phnom Kulen National Park – about 47km (29 miles).

Bros was able to take me using just his motorbike, of course the power behind his tuk tuk.  I was slightly apprehensive at first, but Bros was able to supply a helmet and suggest an itinerary that meant taking in some more temples (and culture!) enroute as well as stopping for food and drink.  He even kept the cold water coming without his coolbox, with fellow friends (other Siem Reap Tuk Tuk drivers) supplying the chilled water, or Bros buying from local sellers or stopping off at road side breaks to recline in a hammock and enjoy an ice cold drink.

Bros, my tuk tuk driver at Kulen national park on his motorbike that he can offer such tours on.  See the 'Book' and 'Tours' pages of this site for more info,
Bros, my tuk tuk driver at Kulen national park on his motorbike that he can offer such tours on. See the ‘Book’ and ‘Tours’ pages of this site for more info,

Pickup from my hotel was prompt as ever at 5am, with Bros emailing me around 10 minutes before to let me know he was outside ready when I was.  First stop was back to a temple I’d visited the previous afternoon, as had hundreds of other tourists – Ta Prohm temple.  This was a chance to get in early in the cooler weather and take some scenery photos that just weren’t possible the busy afternoon before.  Ta Prohm is home of the ‘Tomb Raider Tree‘ – you’ll want to watch the movie again after (or before) visiting!

The Tomb Raider Tree at Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor, Siem Reap. Certain scenes from the first Tomb Raider movie were shot at this temple spot - you'll see why when you visit!
The Tomb Raider Tree at Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor, Siem Reap. Certain scenes from the first Tomb Raider movie were shot at this temple spot – you’ll see why when you visit!

We were then back on the road, headed to Kulen Mountain, but with another temple stop on the way, Banteay Srei temple (also known as “Ladies’ Temple”.  Bros was always kind enough to stop at any other point of interest on both his tuk tuk and motorbike tours in Angkor and Siem Reap.  During this next leg of the journey he stopped as we passed a traditional Cambodian wedding.  My impression is that these are bright, fun, loud(!) celebrations that start early and can typically last a day and a half or two days.  I took a few snaps of the wedding procession lined up in the morning.

Traditional wedding, on the way to Kulen National Park
Traditional wedding, on the way to Kulen National Park

Soon enough we were at Banteay Srei temple – there’s a fairly large entrance area, I sat in the shade to eat the breakfast my hotel had packed for me, requested the evening before due to the early start.  Your ticket for the main Angkor temples covers your entrance to Banteay Srei.  Expect to see some wildlife as you approach the temple site, including pigs and water buffalo!  The temple itself is of course impressive, with highly detailed engravings.  I’d recommend allowing up to an hour and a half to visit the site.

Water Buffalo at Banteay Srei temple
Water Buffalo at Banteay Srei temple
Banteay Srei temple on the way to Kulen Mountain. Impressive carvings!
Banteay Srei temple on the way to Kulen Mountain. Impressive carvings!

As we approached the Phnom Kulen National Park, Bros stopped so I could show my ticket.  I’d given him the $20 to purchase this for me the day before in Siem Reap, which just led to a more efficient and smoother visit.

Ticket for Phnom Kulen National Park, $20 in November 2015

Phnom Kulen National Park itself is massive – you get some impression by the map on the board at the entrance.  Our planned visit to the waterfall, Buddha on the mountain and River of 1000 Lingas would only scratch the surface, but was plenty to do!

Map of Phnom Kulen National Park at the entrance.  A massive site!

There’s a long dirt track to follow once into the park, Bros manoeuvred any pot holes with expert care.  First stop was then the main attraction for me – the waterfall!

The waterfall at Kulen Mountain has two levels.  On the first you can easily wade into the water and take some photos.  Do take care, needless to say it’s slippery!  On the second you can pay a small fee (I paid $2 for my bag and shoes as well as Bros’ to be kept safe) and use a wooden shack as a changing room.  You can then get in and swim at the bottom of the waterfall.  Don’t be surprised to feel the fish harmlessly nibbling at your feet!  Take care with your camera too, your lens won’t thank you for any water.  Thankfully I took my poor man’s Go Pro, a Kitivision Splash to test out in the water.  It was an amazing experience.

Tourists and locals at the top level of the waterfall at Kulen Mountain in the national park
Tourists and locals at the top level of the waterfall at Kulen Mountain in the national park
Beautiful view approaching the bottom level of the waterfall at Kulen Mountain in the national park.
Beautiful view approaching the bottom level of the waterfall at Kulen Mountain in the national park.
Bros my tuk tuk driver, available for you to book via this site, sat on a rock at the bottom level of the waterfall at Kulen Mountain in the national park.
Bros my tuk tuk driver, available for you to book via this site, sat on a rock at the bottom level of the waterfall at Kulen Mountain in the national park.
Me at the second level of the waterfall at Phnom Kulen National Park. Photo taken on my poor man's Go Pro - the Kitvision Splash camera. Oh and yes, I didn't meant to leave the date and time stamp on - showing UK time still too!
Me at the second level of the waterfall at Phnom Kulen National Park. Photo taken on my poor man’s Go Pro – the Kitvision Splash camera. Oh and yes, I didn’t meant to leave the date and time stamp on – showing UK time still too!

After enjoying the waterfall it was time for a spot of lunch.  There are various sellers of gifts and snacks, and it seemed one main restaurant.  Prices were still reasonable and I offered to buy Bros and I lunch.

Following lunch we visited the giant reclining Buddha, which is on top of a mountain that has been impressively built around, as well as The River of 1000 Lingas.  The latter is a fairly brief spot, but intriguing to see for yourself.

The giant reclining Buddha statue on top of the mountain that has been built around at Phnom Kulen National Park.

The River of 1000 Lingas at Phnom Kulen National Park. Figures of Yoni and Linga as well as other figures are carved into the rocks of the riverbed.
The River of 1000 Lingas at Phnom Kulen National Park. Figures of Yoni and Linga as well as other figures are carved into the rocks of the riverbed.

On the way back to Siem Reap we were able to still take in more, including a visit to the impressive Banteay Somre temple.

Banteay Somre temple, I included this stop with Bros my tuk tuk (and motorbike!) driver on the way back from the waterfall and other sites at Kulen mountain.
Banteay Somre temple, I included this stop with Bros my tuk tuk (and motorbike!) driver on the way back from the waterfall and other sites at Kulen mountain.

All in all an amazing day trip!  As you can probably tell, the waterfall was the highlight for me and the main reason of going, well worth it.  The trip with Bros cost $30 USD, see the ‘Book’ page for more info and to book your own trip to Kulen Mountain.  Feel free to add comments and questions below.