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Kirirom National Park – Mountain Retreat

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Last update: February 2023

Kirirom National Park is a pristine nature reserve in the Southwest of Cambodia and part of the Cardemom mountain range. The top is elevated at app 700m and the area offers dense pine forest, waterfalls, Buddhist shrines and fantastic views. As a travel destination it’s nowhere near as popular as Angkor Wat. Lucky for us, since tranquility is exactly what we want from travel into nature.

Kirirom does however receive its share of domestic and foreign tourists in the know, so it’s not completely off the beaten path. Still, the area is pure and exciting without the crowds, but with an adequate tourism infrastructure in place.

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Kirirom National Park

When we visited Cambodia the first time around we had spent great moments at Angkor Wat and the Mekong area. We finally arrived in Phnom Penh where we had a few days left in our Cambodia itinerary. Actually, we really wanted to experience some Cambodian jungle and mountain time. However, places like Chi Phat and Mondulkiri would take a total of 2 days traveling back and forth. We wouldn’t have time to explore Phnom Penh anymore.

That’s when a fellow traveler tipped us about Kirirom National Park. It’s only 2 hours from Phnom Penh. We could take a day to explore Phnom Penh, do an overnight stay in Kirirom and still arrive back in time for our flight out of Cambodia.

View in Kirirom National Park
Kirirom mountain view

Looking back it would have even been doable as a day trip, but I’m glad we stayed overnight in Kirirom. There’s just something magical about mornings in the jungle. I’m also glad we didn’t forget to bring long sleeves for the chilly evening up in the mountains.

Kirirom National Park has a protected status. In fact it’s the oldest protected park in Cambodia. Despite the status there’s still illegal logging and poaching going on and wildlife is struggling to survive. Even more so since the area is opened up with the new road to Thailand.

Fun fact: “Kirirom” translates into “Mountain of Joy”.

Reasons to visit/avoid Kirirom National Park

Reasons to visit

  • 28.000 hectares of tranquil nature.
  • Perfect as a short trip to escape the city and the brutal Cambodian heat.
  • The communities at Kirirom provide an authentic experience by offering a rare peek into rural Cambodian life.

Chambok Eco Tourism sign in Kirirom National Park
Chambok Eco Tourism sign
Typical homestay in Kirirom National Park
Typical homestay accommodation

Reasons to avoid

  • The amounts of plastic garbage along the roads on the mountain are a real let down. It’s something we can see throughout the country. It reminds us that environmental awareness has a long way to go in Cambodia.
  • There’s not much of a night program. Your pretty much confined to your resort in the evening. No evening strolls and no nightlife.

Best time to visit Kirirom National Park

The rain season in Kirirom lasts from beginning of May through October. Rain means powerful waterfalls, but too much rain and overcast skies are not how you want to spend your short trip. For this reason, it’s better to time your trip outside of the rain season. Hot weather in this part of Cambodia can be expected from March to June with average day temperatures up to 33 Celsius. Actually the rest of the year isn’t much cooler with average day temperatures up to 29 Celsius.

Flooding in Kirirom National Park
Occasional road closure due to flooding

The good news is that Kirirom has an elevation of 700m at the highest point. Days and specifically nights on the mountain are cooler than the lowlands. Therefore, weather wise the best time to visit Kirirom is from the start of November to the start of May. This period has the highest probability of clear skies and less rain than the rest of the year.

Another thing to consider is that Kirirom is becoming more and more popular as a destination for domestic tourists. Weekends and public holidays will see an influx of large family and co-worker groups visiting on a day trip, team building or weekend outing. Campsites on the mountain are typically packed with people, tents, BBQ’s and karaoke.

Things to see/do in Kirirom National Park

Mother Nature herself is the main attraction of Kirirom National Park. The mountain with its dense forest and streams is an excellent opportunity to disconnect. Entrance fee to the park is $5.

Chambok Community Based Eco Tourism (CBET)

As a means of preserving nature in Kirirom the Chambok Community Based Eco Tourism (CBET) project was established. Chambok is a community of 9 villages and the project aims to provide locals with an income from tourism rather than from logging and poaching.

Locals are educated on the importance to preserve the forest and how this can help their economical situation. Former poachers now learn English to become guides for trekking tours. Home stays are set up to provide tourists with accommodation and an authentic experience.

Locals are educated on forest preservation at Kirirom National Park
Kids playing in Kirirom National Park
Local village life

The CBET center has a wealth of knowledge about the area and they can set you up for hikes and many other activities. I especially recommend using them for activities within the Chambok community itself. Cooking classes and handicraft making, farming and even folklore dance. Above all, you are sure to have some wonderful interactions with the local community and a unique peek into Cambodian rural village life. Entrance fee to the Chambok community is $3.

Do as I did and just go to the visitor center. They can help you with maps, guides and other information about the park. If you’re already on the mountain, ask your accommodation for directions to the CBET center. Otherwise, follow my directions in the Transport chapter below.


Get lost in the forest. There are several shorter hikes that don’t require a guide. Get your directions from the CBET center. Alternatively, don’t get lost and do bring a guide for the longer hikes. The guides from the CBET are always local and some of them speak English. They provide lot’s of information and context on the plants and animals that inhabit the mountain.

Sugarpalm scenery in Kirirom National Park
Hike through the sugar palms

If you’re here exclusively to spot rare wildlife, you might be disappointed. Although there is rare wildlife in Kirirom National Park, their numbers are rapidly dwindling. Moreover, animals such as the pileated gibbon, sun bear and tiger are very elusive. Although they are sometimes captured on remote night cameras, they are seldomly spotted on hikes.


Kirirom National Park has several streams, small lakes and of course waterfalls. There are 4 major waterfalls to be discovered on hikes with the main one boasting a 40 meter drop. To get there, all it takes is a 4km moderate hike from the CBET center.

Waterfall in Kirirom National Park
Waterfall in Kirirom National Park
Rapids in Kirirom National Park
Rapids in Kirirom National Park

There’s also the “Kirirom waterfall” that’s sees a lot of day tourists. This one is actually more like a string of rapids than a waterfall. The rapids are weak enough to swim in and the banks feature open bamboo stilted huts for rent to spend the day out of the sun. You can either bring your own lunch or else buy it right there.


You’re in the mountains, so there are caves. Some of them large, some smaller as well. Almost all of the caves have bats, and some of the smaller ones accommodate porcupines, snakes and even fish. The guides from the CBET know all the caves in the area and can bring you there on one of the hikes.

Travel Insurance

No, no, no, don’t skip this part even if you think that travel insurance is boring. Remember, you’re in the middle of nowhere and healthcare in Cambodia is completely underdeveloped. Any serious injuries or ailments will most likely result in medical transport to Bangkok or Singapore. Payable upfront if you lack proper insurance. Better have that rich uncle on speed dial.

Make sure to travel with the right travel insurance. One that covers your medical care abroad and includes evacuation and repatriation. Don’t just assume that your regular insurance covers adventurous activities such as hiking and cycling.

Read more about travel insurance, or at least get an instant quote in under 30 seconds!

Where to stay in Kirirom National Park

In the park

vKirirom Pine Resort
From Midrange=$30 to
High end=$200 and up

Rated as a 4 star resort. Choice from simple or luxurious tents to villas, suites and bungalows. Popular with larger groups on the weekends, so not really a tranquil place. During the week however, you have the place to yourself.

Natural Kirirom Resort
From Budget=$10 to
Luxury=$200 and up

New resort offering bungalows and tents on the mountain. Can get busy on weekends.

Natural Kirirom Resort in Kirirom National Park

Nature Camp Kirirom
From Budget=$10 to Midrange=$75

Another new resort offering “glamping” tents and bungalows. Seems to target families, but also team building groups.

Nature Camp Kirirom in Kirirom National Park

Outside the park

Kirirom Hillside Resort
From Midrange=$30 to
High end=$200 and up

Large resort with ample choice of accommodations from tents to rooms, bungalows and villas. The new villas are fantastic, but some of the other accommodations look tired and need renovation. recommends


Alternatively, you can opt for a homestay with the Chambok Eco Tourism Center. Don’t expect any luxury, it’s very basic accommodation with minimal amenities. The good thing is of course that you are right in the middle of the local community with loads of opportunities to interact with the locals.

Chambok Community Homestay The CBET has 42 homestays spread out over 9 community villages. If you register at the CBET they will assign you to a homestay from the rotating system. Beware though, prepare yourself for minimum electricity, outhouse squat toilets and very refreshing cold water showers.

To get to the CBET center follow the directions in the Transport section.

Chambok Community Based Eco Tourism in Kirirom National Park
Chambok community kids learning about nature preservation

Where to eat in Kirirom National Park

In the park

With the exception of the food outlet at the Kirirom rapids, the restaurants at the resorts are the only food options in the park. So, if you’re staying there it’s best to also have your meals there. Most resorts also provide BBQ pits on their camp grounds for guest use. Order your ingredients from the kitchen and BBQ the night away. Don’t worry if all the pits are in use by other guests. There’s always room for more food on the grill and no-one will mind. If anything, it just adds to traveler bonding.

BBQ in Kirirom National Park
Khmer BBQ
BBQ in Kirirom National Park
BBQ family style

Outside the park

Just outside the park there are actually no serious food options for miles. Your best bet is the nearest village Treng Trayerng, but you’ll have a hard time finding something decent there as well. That leaves the Kirirom Hillside Resort as the only viable option for a good meal. recommends:


Ok, one more option just outside the Kirirom National Park. At the CBET center you’ll find the CBET restaurant. The kitchen here is run by a rotating roster of 300 community women. Just imagine, 300 Cambodian mamas cooking up the best and most authentic Khmer food you will ever have in your life. The place is rustic and unassuming, but what a meal!

CET Restaurant at Kirirom National Park
CBET Restaurant at Kirirom National Parkphotocredit: @facebookCBETKirirom

Transport to Kirirom National Park

From Phnom Penh any bus leaving for Sihanoukville or Koh Kong (National road 4) is good to hop on. You will have to alight at Treng Trayerng village, which is about halfway. Ask the driver to let you off at the intersection of roads #4 and #46 near the Treng Trayerng market. Sadly, bus companies will charge you the price of the full route.

Tickets with direction Sihanoukville are most frequent and cheapest starting at around $10. Normally the trip to Treng Trayerng from Phnom Penh should take about 2 hours. Charter a moto taxi ($7) for the last bit of your trip (45min bumpy ride). You can choose to either go up the mountain or to the Chambok Community Based Eco Tourism center. If you come with your own car, signs in the village will point you in the park direction.

Use the transport planning tool below from to book online. Especially during high season and public holidays it makes sense to book ahead to secure your seat(s). The tool is incredibly easy to use, just fill out your place of departure, your destination and travel date. It will show the complete schedule and ticket price of all related transport. Make your choice and book instantly.

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link to Chi Phat Cambodia Travel Guide
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