Exploring Cambodia's national parks

Best known for its awe-inspiring temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia is also home to seven national parks, just waiting to be discovered. To unearth the best jungle spots for wildlife lovers and view chasers we explore them all in our guide to Cambodian national parks.
 Waterfall in Phnom Kulen national park, Cambodia. Photo: DR Travel Photo and Video/Shutterstock
Waterfall in Phnom Kulen national park, Cambodia. Photo: DR Travel Photo and Video/Shutterstock

Less visited than most of its South East Asian neighbours, Cambodia rewards travellers with a more authentic experience. This beautiful nation is home to stunning national parks and jungles – along with the flora and fauna that inhabit them – that are well worth a closer look.

1. Virachey National Park

There are just seven national parks in Cambodia. Located in the country’s northeastern corner, Virachey National Park, its first, was established in 1993. Today, Virachey is one of the best-administered national parks in Cambodia. Small ethnic communities are scattered throughout its varied landscapes, which are characterised by verdant lowlands, misty cloud forests and sweeping savannahs. The park is inhabited by a colourful selection of mammals, including slow loris, pig-tailed macaque, gibbon, douc langur, wild elephant, gaur and banteng. Scenic walks through the park are offered by the Ministry of Environment.

2. Bokor National Park

In the south of the country, the expansive Bokor National Park takes in the site of a 1920s French colonial hill station. It’s an atmospheric destination as Bokor’s swathes of dense verdant Cambodian jungle are often bathed in mist. The complete renovation of the station’s main building has seen it recently reopen as the upmarket Le Bokor Palace hotel, helping to drive development in the region. In the meantime, there are still plenty of moody ruined buildings to explore, and a couple of beautiful waterfalls to visit. Resident wildlife includes leopard cats, gibbons, sun bears and civets.

Abandoned christian church in Bokor. Photo: Sergey Peterman/Shutterstock

3. Ream National Park

Ream National Park covers 210 sq km (81 sq miles) of mainland Cambodia and the waters surrounding the Sinahoukville peninsula, which encompass 21 islands. Coastal forests account for some of the park’s most spectacular scenery – turquoise waters backed by dense Cambodian jungle surround the stunning islands of Koh Thmei and Koh Seh, two of the region’s largest. Mangrove forests, isolated beaches and coral reefs are among the park’s natural attractions, while macaques, pangolins, sun bears and muntjac (mouse deer) are among the wildlife that it supports.

Wooden jetty at local village in Ream National Park. Photo: Don Mammoser/Shutterstock 

4. Kirirom National Park

This national park receives few visitors and is all the better for it. Its pine-clad mountains offer panoramic views and startlingly fresh air. Its undulating hills are criss-crossed by a selection of trails – some accessible by mountain bike – which take in the area’s abandoned villas and pagodas, lakes, waterfalls and impressive fauna. Deer, wild ox, gibbon, eagles and double-beaked hornbills are likely wildlife sightings. Viewpoints such as The Cliff and Phnom Dat Chivit provide jaw-dropping views of the Cardamom mountain range.   

5. Botum Sakor National Park

Located on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, Botum Sakor is the largest national park in Cambodia. Its lowlands consist primarily of evergreen woods and tropical grasslands, while its coastal flats are blanketed in mangroves and swamps. A unique collection of exotic wildlife thrives in these diverse landscapes. You can expect to encounter elephants, gibbons, slow loris, hog deer, crocodiles, fishing cats and king cobra – to name just a few.

6. Kep National Park

 Located on a hill behind the fishing village of Kep in southern Cambodia, this national park offers fantastic views over Kep province and its beautiful coastline. You can hike to the top of the hill in around an hour and a half. Viewpoints and benches break up the journey, as well as the simple Led Zep Café which sells cool drinks and sandwiches and is the only eatery in the park. The owner is an authority on the wildlife and trails within the park and can also provide free maps. You can visit Kep National Park as part of Insight Guides' Cambodia's Beaches and Temples trip

View over Kep National Park, Cambodia. Photo: alionabirukova/Shutterstock 

7. Phnom Kulen National Park

Phnom Kulen National Park, in northern Cambodia, is centred around the sandstone Phnom Kulen mountain considered to be the most sacred in the country. The main attraction of the park is its scattering of impressive archaeological sites. Most visitors come here to see the massive 16th-century reclining Buddha – including local Cambodians who come with bountiful offerings. There are also historic rock figures at Kbal Spean and the Terrace of Sdach Kamlung within the park, as well as two beautiful waterfalls. 

Small Buddhist temple on the sacred mountain of Phnom Kulen. Photo: Lizavetta/Shutterstock

Ready to discover national parks in Cambodia?

Our local experts can help plan wonderful trips for you in Cambodia. Simply get in touch, letting us know when you'd like to travel and your ideas for the trip. We will then create a personalised itinerary for you, which you can amend until you're totally happy with every detail before booking. Browse our existing existing itineraries for inspiration, and keep in mind that all of our planned itineraries can be tailored to meet your specific needs.