Remote Udong, Cambodia Published on: 13-11-2015
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Why Oudong is special ?
Oudong itself is a town some 45 km north of Phnom Penh, in Kampong Speu province, but the interesting parts are concentrated in Oudong Mountain, a short drive from the town itself.
Oudong was the capital of Cambodia from the early 17th century until 1866 when the capital was moved to Phnom Penh. Several temples, stupas and other structures cover three hills. The walk up the hill provides an excellent countryside view. The hill is crowned with stupas containing the remains of several Cambodian kings including King Monivong (1927-1941) and King Ang Duong (1845-1859). The earliest structure is from the 13th century.
There are several important religious monuments at the peak of Phnom Oudong, and today it is in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage. Important remnants include the burial sites of Khmer kings as well as religious artifacts dating back more than a hundred years. Phnom Oudong was well known for a large Buddha statue which was damaged during skirmishes with the Khmer Rouge which had the hill as one of their last strongholds.
What to explore at Oudong?
The first structure is the silver-colored Preah Sakyamoni Chedi, a stupa which is said to house relics from the Buddha himself. This belief has made Phnom Oudong one of the most sacred places in Cambodia.
South of the stupa are a couple more pagoda-shaped structures. These on the other hand are the burial sites of the former kings of Cambodia, back in the day when Udong was capital. Despite not really being frequented by tourists, these pagodas are nonetheless quite stunning, with intricate carvings displaying a cross section of Buddhist and Hindu motifs.
Further down south – about 1o minutes walk – is Arthaross Temple. It contains the remnants of the large Buddha statue that was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge. The unique thing about the statue is that the Buddha faced north instead of the traditional east, and was said to depict the power of the Khmer Empire at the time.
How to get to Oudong?
There are 3 ways to get there from Phnom Penh:
Easy way: Hire a car with driver to take you there for about $40 to $45 return
Not so easy, not so hard way: Hire a tuktuk to take you there and back for about $25. Do note that it will take a journey time of 2 hours on a very dusty path with a tuktuk!
Hard way: Aim to find a shared taxi in Sorya Bus Terminal near the Central Market. No fixed schedules. The shared taxi will leave only when full. Another possibility also from the same bus terminal is to take northbound buses and ask them to drop you off at Oudong. Problem with this is that you’ll be taken to Oudong town and not to Phnom Oudong, which requires another ride. And once there, there are no guarantees of finding a shared taxi back!
- “A piece of Khmer history”
- “Good halfday trip. Worth a visit.”
- “Nice place with Great view!! ”
- “Lots of temples and great view”
- “A nice trip off the beaten track”
Tips for you
We hired a taxi to get to Udong mainly because of the busy roads and dust. It took an hour to get there with some really interesting sights along the way. We saw the mountain in the distance with a temple on top. We started the climb with some young boys offering to show us around which we glad to accept the services of. It wasn't as hard a climb as Chisor even though there are more steps. There were a number of temples with a lot of interesting history attached. It probably took 90 minutes in all to walk around. The cost was US$1 each person which is exceedingly good value. We were told that it gets extremely busy at weekends when locals visit - so to enjoy the tranquility probably best to visit on a weekday. The views from the top of the mountain were spectacular with plenty of photo opportunities. On returning to the mountain base there is ample opportunity to buy some local Khmer food and relax in a hammock. Highly recommended and really good value too.