Most people who visit Cambodia know about the temples at Angkor Wat, but if you’re looking for a lesser known temple complex, head over to Oudong Mountain.
The town of Oudong served as the capital of Cambodia from 1618 and 1866 and is just 25 miles from the current capital, Phnom Penh. Oudong Mountain or Phnom Udong is home to many temples, stupas, and shrines of past kings. The main attractions are Phnom Preah Reach Throap, or Hill of the Royal Fortune, so named for the treasure said to have been hidden there by a 16th century king; and a modern temple containing a relic of the Buddha – believed by some to be an eyebrow hair, and by others, bones. The relic was relocated from a stupa in front of Phnom Penh railway station in 2002.
When to go: Since Cambodia’s climate varies from warm to very hot, the best time to visit is during the cooler season or between November and February. At this time, the countryside is still green from previous rain but there is less chance of rain ruining your trip.
What to do: In order to see the stupas, viharas (Buddhist monastaries), and shrines on top of Oudong Mountain, you must climb the 509 stairs to the top, from where you can observe the beautiful 16th century architecture as well as the small villages, rice farms, and palm wineries scattered across the countryside below. Also consider traveling to the smaller ridge of the mountain to see the remains of the Ta San Mosque, which was partially destroyed by the Khmer Rouge regime. If the 10–20 minute climb is too much, take a tuk tuk, to the lowest observation point where you can still have a good look.