Photo: Looking across the river to the hill.

Phnom Neang Kong Rei

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Phnom Neang Kong Rei, or Mountain of the Sleeping Lady, is the low wooded hill you can see on the opposite bank of the Tonle Sap from Kompong Chhnang’s waterfront. At just over 300 metres in height it doesn’t look especially significant, yet it’s not only Kompong Chhnang’s most iconic landmark but one of the most famous mountains in Cambodia.

The name is a clue. Its fame derives from a typically convoluted Khmer legend involving ogres, beautiful princesses, scheming queens and of course a courageous but gullible prince. The tale has been made into books, songs and movies. Suffice to say that the prince was forced to leave his beloved Neang Kong Rei to go on a mission, and used a spell to turn the intervening lands into water so she couldn’t follow him. Heartbroken, the princess cried herself to death at her loss and the mountain is said to resemble the shape of a prone, weeping maiden. Larger than life statues of the devastated girl and the departing prince on his trusty stead can be seen in the small traffic circle park close to the provincial hall.

The titular sleeping lady. Photo taken in or around Phnom Neang Kong Rei, Kompong Chhnang, Cambodia by Mark Ord.

The titular sleeping lady. Photo: Mark Ord

Today the hill has become a pilgrimage site, particularly over Khmer New Year, as well as a designated wildlife reserve. Steps lead approximately half way up from where a dirt track continues to the summit. Views are spectacular but don’t expect to see much in the way of wildlife except for birds. Much of the range of low hills lying behind Kong Rei is also protected and as something of a forest oasis among a sea of paddy they have become a refuge for smaller mammals and forest birds. Marshlands between the hills and Great Lake are perhaps ecologically more significant, with large populations of waterfowl and waders. Winter months are best, when flocks of storks, herons, ibises and so on migrate here from Manchuria and Siberia.

If you’re feeling energetic then you’d need to take the ferry to Kompong Leaeng (or Leng) and hire a motodop or tuk tuk to take you the short distance north of town to the foot of the steps. A road circumvents the 4.5 kilometre long hill. For ferry times, see our travel section. A return to the mountain plus waiting time shouldn’t set you back more than $10.

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How to get there
It's 1,000 riel on the regular ferry plus a negotiable tuk tuk or motodop ride to get here. You can of course also take your bicycle on the ferry to do it under your own steam.

Phnom Neang Kong Rei
2 km north of Kompong Leaeng, on the east bank of the Tonle Sap, Kompong Chhnang

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Location map for Phnom Neang Kong Rei

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What next?

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