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Kbal Spean, Siem Reap Overview

Kbal Spean is an ancient Angkorian site of Cambodia, found in the Phnom Kulen National Park in Banteay Srei. Stretching for more than 150 meters, Kbal Spean runs under the Stung Kbal Spean river. Popularly known among the tourists as the River of Thousand Lingas, it is an intricately carved river bed consisting of more than 1000 Lingas, depictions of Hindu God Shiva along with sculptures of other Gods. It was built in the 11th century.

Kbal Spean can be explored as a half-day trip while visiting other monuments in nearby Siem Reap, ideally combined with a visit to Phnom Kulen National Park. It is a 2-km easy hike between the jungles to reach Kbal Spean, which makes an exciting adventure. Surrounded by dense forests, it is the perfect place to escape the hot weather to enjoy the river.

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Kbal Spean ticket details

Admission to Kbal Spean is included with the temple pass for central Angkor. Foreigners are required to buy an admission pass, called the Angkor pass, which can only be purchased at the official ticket centre, located 4 kilometres away from Siem Reap town. It is open from 5:00 AM to 5:30 PM every day. The entrance ticket can be purchased either by cash (US Dollars, Cambodian Riel, Thai Baht or Euro) or by credit card. Tickets issued after 5:00 PM are only valid from the next day.

There are three types of admission passes available, depending on the number of entries:
1-Day: USD 37 for a day pass
3-Days: USD 62 valid for ten days
7-Days: USD 72 valid for one month

Kbal Spean History & Significance

Kbal Spean translates to 'Bridge Head,' named after a stone bridge which passes over this river. Set in the thick jungles of Angkor, it was considered a sacred site during the Khmer period. It sanctified the overrunning river which originated from the hills of Phnom Kulen and navigated to Angkor and the temples around. Records found here state that some of the sculptures were carved by the hermits who inhabited the surrounding forests.  

Majorly, the stone bed consists of several hundreds of Lingas and Yonis, representing Shiva and its female counterpart respectively. There are other noticeable sculptures including many forms of Lord Vishnu, Lakshmi, Brahma - the Hindu God of creation, Nagas and others.  One of the inscriptions also mentions that there was a golden Linga consecrated here by King Udayadityavarman II in 1059 AD, the ruler responsible for the carvings on this site.

Best time to visit Kbal Spean

The best time to visit Kbal Spean is between August and December although it can be visited almost throughout the year. Just after the monsoon, you get some of the best views of the abundant greenery and also be able to see the Lingas, which might be submerged during the wet season.

How to reach Kbal Spean

Kbal Spean is located in Phnom Kulen National Park in Banteay Srei district in Cambodia. It takes from one to two hours to reach Kbal Spean from the provincial town of Siem Reap. One of the options is to visit the site via Phnom Kulen National Park. As there are no tuk-tuks to this site, you will have to take a car or a van, which would lead you to the park in 1.5 to 2 hours. There is an additional 20 USD for car parking to be paid. From the entrance, you can follow the hiking trail to the site. A car trip costs between 20 USD to 35 USD depending on whether you add additional attractions, wait time and the season of your visit.

Kbal Spean tips

  • It is best to visit Kbal Spean in the early morning in colder weather. Also, you'll find enough time to relax and make your way back.
  • To the south section of Kbal Spean site is a waterfall and close to it is a small pool. If you are visiting during the high season, explore these two places as well as they will be full following the rains.
  • Note that visiting this site requires walking for over one hour one way. Although it's not a strenuous hike, the last section of the trail includes climbing steep wooden stairs. So keep your fitness levels in mind while planning a trip to Kbal Spean.
  • Carry enough water to stay hydrated. Also wear a cap, sunglasses and sunscreen.
  • There is only one small shop selling some food. So it's better to carry some food with you.

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