The Kingdom of Cambodia really has the power to amaze. From the famed Angkor Wat temples, rich wildlife, historical treasures to the newly uncovered massive network of lost cities found underneath the Angkor complex, there is a world of natural and historical wonders in the kingdom still waiting to be explored.
Located 60 km north of Siem Reap town, lies a beautiful natural wonder but relatively unknown called ‘Peung Tanorn’ or ‘Perng Tanorn’. Peung Tanorn is situated on top of a series of hills with massive sandstone formations scattered around the site. At first glance, you may think it is at Arches National Park in Utah because of its geological features. The site features heavily textured rocks of different sizes and colors and balanced rocks dotted over the hills, which are highlighted in striking background of the lush fields and scenic views of the countryside.
Just like other incredible natural rock formations, Peung Tanorn is also the result of weathering and erosion and was shaped and formed slowly over thousands of years. In contrast with other sandstone sites which are known to be dry and usually located in an extremely barren land, surprisingly, Peung Tanorn is set in a luxuriant and verdant area, with some beautiful flowers and vegetation growing everywhere around the site – a unique of its kind. Peung Tanorn is the only sandstone pillar site recorded in Cambodia so far and the information about this natural wonder is limited at the moment. The site is believed to be hidden in the Cambodian jungle until it was uncovered by a Cambodian Thai-speaking guide.
How to get there
Peung Tanorn is situated in the northeastern hill range of Angkor Chum in Kok Dong Village in Siem Reap, west of Kbal Spean. Getting there is an adventure as you will experience a bumpy ride over badly rutted roads and it will take you around two hours to get the sandstone site. On the other hand, be ready to be amazed en route to Peung Tanorn Sandstone Pillar site as you will get a sight of the ‘real Cambodia’. Vast rice paddy fields, locals biking through the red dirt roads, traditional Cambodian houses in rural villages, densely grown palm trees, children next to the pond patiently waiting for their first catch and cows walking along the roads add up to the experience – well worth the journey.
Since the roads can be largely impassable especially in the wet season, it is advisable to take a car to get to Peung Tanorn. On the way to the actual location, are piles of rocks alongside the roads which seem to lead you to the sandstone site.
Before you get to the rock formations site, you will pass by a local community in the area. You will be greeted by the community chief who will happily welcome you to the site. The sandstone pillars are set on top, about 100m above the ground and it requires a light trek up the hill. Don’t let it bother you as stunning views from the hill-top await you.
We made our way to check on the newly discovered sandstone site. The Navutu Team is one of the first to visit the sandstone site of Peung Tanorn. As a guest experience offer based on what our team has gone through, we have created an excursion package for Peung Tanorn to share the spectacular experience. Perng Tanorn: Meditation and Scenic Tour is a half-day guided tour to the sandstone pillar site, complementing the journey with a community activity ‘alms giving’, a monk blessing at a pagoda located at the foot of the hill and a guided meditation to be led by one of our yoga and wellness practitioners. A simple picnic lunch will also be prepared by our team and you can take the opportunity to marvel around the sandstone site later on.