As you move away from Cambodia’s coast and head inland, you’ll soon find youself surrounded by lush rainforst and rushing rivers in what is one of Southeast Asia’s most beautiful and untouched regions.
This pocket of south-west Cambodia comprises the Cardamom Mountains and the Kirirom and Preah Monivong Bokor National Parks. An area once associated with Khmer Rouge fighters, the Cardamom Mountains are the largest tract of unbroken rainforest in Southeast Asia, and one of the few remaining habitats for wild elephants. The preservation of the forest is paramount and visitors staying at Shinta Mani Wild can see first-hand the work being done to protect its majestic wildlife.
Although spotting elephants is rare, keep your eyes peeled for pileated gibbons and beautiful tropical birds including kingfishers and yellow-bellied warblers. The butterfly season is between December and March, and orchids can be seen pretty much year-round.
Rivers and streams course their way through the forest and one of the best ways to discover the area is by boat or kayak. Glide along the peaceful backwaters, keeping your eyes peeled for aquatic life and your ears open to the bird calls that carry across the canopy. Back on land, there are plenty of hiking routes that take you through dense vegetation and past rushing waterfalls. There are also lots of wonderful ingredients that can be foraged in the forest, from traditional herbs to the more unusual pink mushroom.
This really is one of Asia’s greatest wilderness areas and the perfect antidote after the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. It also combines really well with the coast, so you can get your fix of adventure in the mountains then head to the idyllic islands of the Koh Rong archipelago.
When to go
Cambodia is warm all year round. November to May is the dry season with cooler temperatures at the beginning of the year. The wet season runs from June to October with rains falling mainly in the afternoon.
What to do
- Hike through Cambodia's lush, mountainous interior
- Kayak along the quiet waterways
- Keep your eyes peeled for gibbons and kingfishers
- Go foraging for wild ingredients
- Zipline through the canopy