My Weekend at Kirirom National Park
Kirirom was the first official designated national park and has become the protected area together with Bokor National Park, Kep National Park, and Ream National Park under the Royal Decree by King Norodom Sihanouk dated November 01, 1993. The area has several mountain ranks and contains many small lakes and waterfalls. Because of the natural view of Kirirom, the place became a popular weekend getaway site for people from Phnom Penh city.
Kirirom National Park locates 112 km from Phnom Penh city, the park cover an area of 35.000 hectares which mostly are within Kampong Speur province. Kirirom Mountain (its common name) is about 675 m high, has got its name as KIRIROM in the 1930s by King Sisovath Monivong. The name can be translated as the Mountain of Joy, while Kiri means mountain and Rom mean pleasure. However, the area has its ancient name as Phnom Vorvong Sorvong which refered to the two mountains associated with a Khmer legend. After it has become National Park, the official name is Preah Soramrit Kosamak Kirirom National Park.
The attraction of Kirirom is its natural beautiful scenery well known pine forest which made it unique from other hills in Cambodia. The high of the mountain made it has got a cooler weather in which suitable for pine trees to grow. I’ve been to Kirirom National Park many times in the 2000s. But today I visit it again after six years and this time I was a driver.
Leaving Phnom Penh for about 112 km, at your right, there is a sign board to turn. It’s easy to recognize as there are many houses and vendors selling drinks and fruits along the road. After turn right there is a small local market which visitors can buy their foods for lunch from here. Or they can buy it when they have reached the waterfall on the mountain.
After the turn from the national road 4, I spent one and half hour to drive up the mountain. The road up there was constructed in the reign of King Sihanouk when he built his summer rest house on the mountain top. The road is still in good condition until today, only some places has damaged.
At the mountain foot are fruit farms of papaya, mango, jackfruit, dragon fruit, and many others. Visitors can enjoy taking some pictures of those fruit trees too. Especially, from here we can have a nice picture of Kirirom Mountain in the whole. After passing the farms, we started the journey into the forest. Both sides of the road are forest trees and we mostly driving in the shade. We felt that we’re really in the jungle as cicadas on the trees kept singing loudly as if to welcome all of us to their home. After sometimes we see part of forest get burned. During the hot season, fire might be started because of the hot weather. During the raining season all nature are especially green which created pleasure when we be in it. However, today we also can see new green leaves growing out from branches; it was raining a few days ago. After a while, we stop and get off the care to take some pictures. There are several hills connected together, so stand on one hill we can have another one as the background of our pictures.
There is a newly built recreation center on half way to the top. They have various games and offer rooms to stay overnight.
There are two Buddhist monastery built on the mountain, we can also spend a visit and make praying. Later on we see some houses of villagers at the road sides, only several family live here.
The appearance of the pine trees let us know that we are at a higher level of mountain. They are growing straight and high into the sky on the hills along the road. Driving further, pine trees are in lines adorn our path, it’s a great natural view.
Before we reach the waterfall, we must pass a quite hard road of some km. It was Sunday and we can see about 30 cars at the parking place. Many thatch roofed huts are built for rent to visitors. The owners also offer foods and drinks. There are other vendors selling local snacks and cakes, however, it’s very few compare to Oudong Mountain.
In the last few years, most people visit Kirirom on purpose to bath the waterfall. But today, the water are not clean enough for bathing. Because in dry season the water is less and the flow is weak. So after lunch, we just spend time to walk around in the nature under pine trees.
The previous Royal rest house was damaged during the Khmer Rouge regime. Then it was renovated and functions as a museum. But today we don’t have time to visit there, so we don’t have picture for you.
We drive off the mountain at 3pm and the way down is somehow faster than when we climb up. It was a great holiday for us to spend time with nature at Kirirom National Park. We surely come back after sometime, maybe in this coming raining season to enjoy the waterfall.