Day trip to Phnom Chisor (Chisor Mountain) from Phnom Penh
Phnom Chisor is a 133m tall hill in Takeo Province. On top of the hill, you will find an ancient temple built in the 11th century, part of the Angkor Wat family. During our year in Cambodia, we visited Phnom Chisor many times. Every single time, we were blown away by the beauty of the ancient temple, captivated by the views at the top of the hill, and our tummies were sore from all the belly-laughing we did during the tuk-tuk rides.
If you’ve never been to Siem Reap, this may be your first time seeing such an ancient temple in Cambodia. If you have been to Siem Reap, you will be pleasantly surprised by how few visitors there are here.
Since Phnom Chisor is not the *most* popular tourist destination, there is little signage or explanation. Unlike Angkor Wat, you won’t have the option for an audio or even guided tour. However, with a little Google search and a lot of letting your imagination run free, this sight can be truly extraordinary.
So – how do you get to Phnom Chisor? Phnom Chisor is about 55km away from Phnom Penh. With all things considered, it takes about 2 hours to get to the mountain from the city.
You can rent a motorbike and drive to the ancient hilltop temple. We only recommend this if you’re an experienced motorbike driver, as you’ll be joining in with the crazy and fast highway traffic from Phnom Penh. If you do choose to rent a moto, make sure it’s in great shape – as the side path to the mountain is a long, bumpy dirt road.
You could also hire a private taxi.
We, however, recommend hiring a tuk tuk for the adventure. We loved the breezy adventure every time, and connecting with the locals down the bumpy road felt much more intimate this way.
Normally, we’d offer a tuk tuk driver $40 for the entire day.
The trip up to the temple
It’s best to do this trip in the morning since you will need to climb about 390 stairs to get to the top of the hill, and as you know, Cambodia can get very hot. While you are walking up the stairs, you will meet locals selling water, coconuts, and snacks.
Once you reach the top of the stairs, you will see more vendors. At this point, someone will have approached you to pay for the “entry ticket”. While we are not sure where this money goes, it is only $2 and we are hoping it goes to the protection and maintenance of the pagoda. To be fair, we were always charged the same amount and given the same ticket every time we visited Chisor.
The temple & the view
The temple was built in the 11th century and is covered with beautiful sculptures to date. You can walk through the different galleries and even enter the place of worship.
The temple was destroyed by bombs during the Vietnam/American war in 1970 and rebuilt in 1979.
From the top of the mountain, you will get a spectacular view of rice paddies covering Takeo province.
There are drinks, snacks, and clothing for sale outside of the temple.
You can walk around the top of the mountain or find a hammock to relax on for a while.
Rules for visiting Phnom Chisor
Because Phnom Chisor isn’t as busy as a popular destination like Angkor Wat, there are no rules or anyone to regulate them, even if they were existent. To respect the ancient temples, we recommend reading the following:
- Dress appropriately. Women’s shoulders and knees should be covered.
- If you want to take a picture of/with a monk – just ask. Many monks in Cambodia actually use Facebook & Instagram and may want the photo for themselves! If they don’t want their photo taken, they’ll have the chance to tell you that.
- Do not smoke on the temple grounds
- Don’t litter. Unfortunately, like the majority of the Cambodia, the grounds near Phnom Chisor can tend to fill up with litter. Do not contribute to the problem.
- Be quiet and respectful. This is still a sacred place.
You can also combine this trip with a trip to Tonle Bati if you want to see more and fill the entire day.
See some other fun things to do during your trip to Cambodia over on our Youtube channel below: