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“Look Down Mountain” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple

Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple
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$179.00*
and up
4-Day Kep and Kampot Tour by Motorbike
Ranked #5 of 41 things to do in Kampot
Attraction details
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Level Contributor
9 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Look Down Mountain”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed January 3, 2013

This was one of our favorite stops in our southern Cambodia travel. Our tuk-tuk was met by MANY local children "guides". Although that was a little overwhelming at first and we weren't quite sure what the protocol was, we ended up with about 6 of them joining us on our hike through the caves. We had such fun talking and playing with them. Our kids, aged 8 & 11 loved it. We found out many interesting things about the area and the mountain by having them along, things we would not have discovered without them. And we just enjoyed their company complete with giggles. We did end up giving them about $1 each at the end of our visit, not sure if this was expected or not. Stop at the cafe at the end of the trail for a cold drink and some scary-but-true stories about living in the area during the Khmer Rouge.

Visited December 2012
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1 Thank Debra B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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George Town, Malaysia
Level Contributor
38 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Scammed at the wrong caves”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 29, 2012

It was only when reading reviews about the Phnom Chhgnok caves after we had visited them (or thought we had) that I realised we'd been taken for a ride. And then I understood the disappointment we had felt there... It had seemed real enough, though.

We went to the caves on rented motorcycles, took the Phom Chhgnok Resort turnoff, passed an archway and hesitated. Children waved to us, signalling for us to come: we had arrived, they assured us. We payed the 'parking fee' for our motorcycles. We payed the 'ticket price' for entrance to the caves. And we followed them inside the caves, were shown animal figures of limestone, crawled through tight openings, admired the natural beauty of the caves. One of the boys spoke no English so the other did the talking. We managed to understand a few words now and then, tried to, did not want to discourage him.

When exiting, he made it very clear that he expected payment for his efforts - five dollars to be exact. Annoyed, but anxious for this to be over, I looked for dollar bills. The person I had toured the caves with handed him a ten dollar note, expecting change. 'Five dollars each is OK', the boy said. We then finally voiced our disagreement, but who would take this to the point of snatching the money away from a young boy? Not us. We left it there and rode off. It left a bit of a bitter aftertaste, though.

But of course, it became clear afterwards that we had been to the wrong caves. Therefore my advice: either go by tuk tuk (the driver can be expected to know the way) or be very suspicious when young boys tell you you have arrived. Assuming you read this before you go...

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
9 Thank richard747
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bangkok
Level Contributor
567 reviews
137 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 370 helpful votes
“The junior guides are the highlight”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 27, 2012

As soon as you arrive, you are greeted by young guides who want to guide you to the cave. These kidsa re delightfula nd end up being the highlight of the trip. They are well mannered and speak excellent English. My guide was a 7 year old girl and I was amazed at how much she knew and how well she could maintain a conversation. To be honest, I remember the kids more than I remember the caves! Well worth it!

Visited December 2012
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2 Thank BMF60
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
18 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“The highlights were my young guides”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 25, 2012

I was excited to see a cave temple, but on arrival I was rather underwhelmed. The definite highlight for me was interacting with the three young boys who acted as my guides. I was originally skeptical of making use of them given all the warnings about children being exploited by adults in Cambodia, particularly in the tourism industry, but these boys assured me they attend school in the mornings (admittedly, I'm trusting that this is true) and they did not pester me for payment as I had expected.
The boys were full of information about the history of the cave temple and also guided me through a narrow passageway into a bat cave further into the mountain and back out through another cave. (This part is optional and it is possible to exit the cave temple by the steps that you enter by.) Be prepared to get dirty if you're like me and aren't as small and agile as a 10 year old Cambodian boy... Also, it's a good idea to take a torch if you have one.

Visited December 2012
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2 Thank EmmGrace
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“salt, pepper and caves”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 16, 2012

I arrived in Kep from Phnom Penh yesterday (FYI - Giant IBIS is fantastic and only takes 2 hours). After checking in arranged for a tuk tuk driver to take us to the caves. The hotel and the Tuk Tuk suggested that you can see the pepper fields and salt fields on the way. You can also go to Kep (I chose not to because I am heading there in 2 days time).

I haven't been to a salt field before and the Tuk Tuk driver was able to explain the process of salt collection.

It was a fantastically scenic ride to the pepper fields. We were shown a quick overview of the pepper growing process. We were also shown different fruit and nut trees in the orchard.

Next it was a very long and bumpy ride to the caves. You walk about 2-300m to the caves with some young boys (guides) talking, laughing and learning all the way. They were very witty and a lot of fun to go with.

I don't support children working or hawking, however these guys were having a lot of fun and were living their childhood as well as showing off their country to visitors with pride. They all go to school (school is only half day here - however we visited on a sunday) and although they looked young they told us they were 16-18. I really added to the experience to hear them banter in english and khmer :-)

The cave was a tad disappointing though. It was still interesting and great to see but i had thought it would be larger with more opportunity to explore. There is really only one cavern, the temple is impressive given it's condition (built in 7th Century). The Bat Cave is a crevice in the cavern that you can climb down and exit via - however it had too much water inside (and looked a little dangerous) to go that way - maybe we missed some of the main attractions by not going that way? however from the guidebooks I was expecting a much bigger cave. I guess I have been to limestone caves in Oz and had expectations. It is still worth going to....just dont be expecting a huge cave - you might spend 45mins there (including climbing a heap of stairs).

The trip through the country side and constant waving and hellos from children and adults along the way. Watching the locals go about their daily business including cutting rice, collecting snails, crabs, snake, swimming in the ponds, showering, etc. was absolutely unforgettable. It's what made the long ride worth it. The way back...was surprisingly less bumpy and much quicker...but not as scenic.

Definitely go...even if it's just a quick stop over on your way to kep or PP. Oh and you have to buy a 'ticket' for $1 - you don't actually get a ticket so it's probably a 'donation' to the tourist police...or rather the adult loiters outside ;-)

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank roshi_bris
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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