Discover Kirirom National Park: Cambodia's Former Royal Destination

The late King Norodom Sihanouk made Kirirom National Park as an exclusive royal retreat for Cambodia's elite.
The late King Norodom Sihanouk made Kirirom National Park as an exclusive royal retreat for Cambodia's elite. (Photo: Marko Mikkonen/Flickr)

Cambodia's Senior Environment Ministry promised to keep Kirirom National Park in order last year after the place made a comeback, following the Khmer Rouge reign from 1975 to 1979.  As the recreational area now turns into a playing field where citizens and tourists alike can visit and enjoy, it will take you in a different space with its beauty and ambiance.

Kirirom National Park offers a cool breeze in the middle of Cambodia's hottest month of April. Visitors here will feel like they are in another country with its cold weather, pine forests brightly shined by the sun, and the high elevation that seems like the place is in Europe.

According to The South China Morning Post, Kirirom National Park's cool weather and natural beauty make it the late King Norodom Sihanouk's exclusive royal retreat for Cambodia's elite in the 1950s and 1960s. A series of stylish villas was built at the top of Kirirom Mountain at the time. 

Decades have passed, and a lot of things have changed, Kirirom Mountain now holds many outdoor activities and new accommodations for tourists. There are also future development plans that are about to take place in the park. Hence, it is now becoming as one of Cambodia's growing destinations.

With a span of more than 35,000 hectares, Kirirom Mountain is filled with trails that would guide your way to the forest, rolling hills, deep valleys, and small villages. These places will give you a good view of the Cardamom Mountains, making it mountain bikers' dream destination. There are cycle tours here that range from half to multiple-day trips. You can also rent bicycles here if you want to go on your own.

Hikers, on the other hand, can also enjoy walking beneath the towering pines in Kirirom National Park. While walking, they can hear the birds singing, monkeys calling, and other animals that call this forest as their home. There are also sun bears, rare pileated gibbons, Asian elephants, banding or wild cattle, and linsang, a tree-dwelling catlike carnivore, here.

Meanwhile, Senior Environment Ministry officials promised to work together, along with local forest rangers to maintain the order and prevent forestry crimes in Kirirom Mountain, Khmer Times reported. In a meeting with forest rangers last year, Undersecretary of State and the ministry's So Khan Rithykun said that the wardens should hold the full control of the recreational area. They should also strengthen their cooperation with local authorities, development partners, and local community members to protect Cambodia's natural resources.

"To do the work, rangers must regularly continue learning, building their own capacity and the team's - and have good morality," Rithykun said. Director General of the local community general department at the ministry Khieu Borin added the rangers should be actively involved in managing Kirirom National Park. 

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