Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The porter helping visitors enjoy stunning Phnom Tbeng waterfall

The porter helping visitors enjoy stunning Phnom Tbeng waterfall

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The almost 30m uninterrupted waterfall offers stunning views, and streams running off provide refreshing bathing spots shaded under tall, lush trees. Yousos Apdoulrashim

The porter helping visitors enjoy stunning Phnom Tbeng waterfall

Khek Thuon is likely the first person visitors to the 30m tall Phnom Tbeng, or Thma, waterfall in Preah Vihear province’s Tbeng Meanchey natural heritage site.

The almost 30m uninterrupted waterfall offers stunning views, and streams running off provide refreshing bathing spots shaded under tall, lush trees.

Carrying a rice sack over his shoulders as a backpack, the 42-year-old Thuon asks visitors arriving at the foot of the 1,345 steps leading up the mountain if they need help carrying their belongings to the top. He also acts as a guide.

“Most people can’t carry heavy loads as they hike up the mountain. So they can hire me to do this for them. Because some parts of the stairs are very steep, some visitors can’t carry anything with them at all,” said Thuon, who has been working as a porter for more than 10 years.

Able to carry up to 50kg, he waits patiently for his clients as they stop to visit the pagodas and bathing areas, and take in the views – and as they catch their breath.

“From the foot of the mountain to the top, there are 1,092 steps with three stops to visit. Once at the top, there are another 253 steps to reach the Tbeng, or Dombouk Khmao, pagoda,” says Thuon, who charges 30,000 riel for his services.

Thoun even offers to carry the elderly up the mountain in a hammock if they cannot make it themselves.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Khek Thuon carries a rice sack over his shoulders up the stairs. Yousos Apdoulrashim

“But I rarely carry people up to the mountain because the elderly are usually too nervous to sit in the hammock. Those who do are determined to pray at the pagodas,” Thuon says.

Climbing the stairs with a large group of young people, an exhausted Oum Soun, 60, says: “I am very tired, but wanting to see the views at the top and pray at the pagoda pushes me on.”

Without any restaurants on the trail, visitors need to carry their own food and offerings of worships as the small shops scattered about sell only packaged noodles, crisps and drinking water.

“Though recently a lot more tourists are visiting the mountain, there are no restaurants or guesthouses. Local tourists who want to spend the night on the mountain, they mostly stay in pagoda while foreigners prefer to camp,” Thuon says.

Phnom Tbeng waterfall is 600m up Tbeng Meanchey Mountain – around 35km from Preah Vihear town.

Tourists tackling its stairs pass the Phnom Tbeng or Dombouk Khmao pagoda after around a kilometre.

After another kilometre, there is a choice of paths – one down to the bottom of the waterfall and another one heading to the top.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Phnom Tbeng waterfall is on 600m up Tbeng Meanchey Mountain. Hong Menea

Whichever one they choose, the lower and upper streams are connected by a tunnel-like path beneath the waterfall.

The white cascade of water against the backdrop of the green vegetation covering the cliff walls make this the ideal spot to take photographs.

“People rather take selfies here than bathe. For bathing, they usually choose the upper stream, which is another 200m or 300m further up,” Thoun says, sitting on a rock while keeping an eye on his clients.

In timely agreement, a group of beaming young people coming down say that bathing in the upper stream was indeed a memorable experience.

Tbeng Meanchey in Preah Vihear province – covering 25,000ha across five districts: Kulen, Sangkum Thmei, Tbeng Meanchey, Preah Vihear town and Roveang – was listed as a natural heritage site in 2016.

Around 280km from Phnom Penh, Phnom Tbeng waterfall is reached by taking National Road 6, before turning north onto National Road 62 in Kampong Thom’s province’s Trapaing Russey commune.

Watch video:

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this

  • Crumbling prices, rent ruffle condo segment

    The prolonged decline in international arrivals to Cambodia intensified by renewed Covid-19 fears has driven down condominium sales prices and rental rates in Phnom Penh, a research report said. CBRE Cambodia, the local affiliate of US commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures