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

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,

  • No word on state of emergency

    The National Assembly (NA) said it will postpone all unnecessary meetings in line with guidance from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it did not say when or how it will debate the “state of emergency”

  • State of emergency draft law set for NA

    A draft law aiming to place the Kingdom in a state of emergency amid the Covid-19 pandemic is set for a debate at the National Assembly (NA) after going through the Council of Ministers’ Standing Committee meeting led by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday.

  • NA, Senate set for bill on ‘emergency’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested the Senate to convene an extraordinary meeting to review the draft law that aims to put the Kingdom in a state of emergency after the bill reached the National Assembly (NA) on Friday. The draft law, which was approved

  • Tourists can now prolong their stay

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said tourists holding Visa T and arriving in the Kingdom after January 1 will be allowed to prolong their stay until they are able to return home. The decision comes as Cambodia and most countries take measures to

  • Hun Sen, ministers, officials donate salaries in virus fight

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials have decided to donate their salaries to the National Committee for Combating Covid-19 in support of the ongoing battle against the coronavirus. Hun Sen announced in an April 1 letter that because the Covid-19 situation in Cambodia