Embark on a visit to Phnom Kulen, a mountain that is both sacred and breathtakingly beautiful. Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims scale this 461-meter-high mountain but you do not have to be a pilgrim to revel in the mountain’s natural and man-made marvels. We’ll climb at a leisurely pace for about an hour-and-a-half to arrive near the summit where a river runs. This water is considered holy and you’ll quickly understand why when you peer into the river. The shallow water trickles over incredible carvings in the sandstone riverbed of “lingas”, phallic symbols that honor the Hindu god Shiva and represent fertility. In the 9th century, King Jayavarma II bathed here and declared independence from Java, leading to the creation of the ancient Khmer Empire. At the mountain’s summit, we’ll visit Preah Ang Thom, a 16th century Buddhist monastery. A spectacular, reclining Buddha is carved into a sandstone boulder. The gold-decorated Buddha is the largest of its kind in the country. Don’t miss your chance to see it. The climb won’t leave you huffing and puffing but the view from the summit will definitely take your breath away. The Cambodian countryside rolls out below you, a blanket of green forest canopy and a visual reward after your morning hike. We’ll take advantage of the view and plunk ourselves down for a relaxing picnic lunch before hiking down the mountain in the afternoon.