Photo: Move over Indiana Jones.

Phnom Da

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Phnom Da is a low hill featuring a couple of well-preserved old temples and when combined with nearby Angkor Borei, it makes for a two- to three-hour boat tour.

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The hill is around 30 kilometres’ or 45 minutes’ away by boat and while neither Phnom Da nor Angkor Borei would be worth a trip in their own right, combined and with the boat trip through picturesque scenery to get there and back, the trip is more than worthwhile. During the monsoon, water stretches as far as you can see in every direction, but the channel the boat takes, which leads dead straight and due east, is actually an all-year round human-made canal which was built during the Funan period; indeed the entire region is crisscrossed by a 1,500-2,000 year-old canal system, much of which is still in use today.

Approaching the left breast. Photo taken in or around Phnom Da, Takeo, Cambodia by Mark Ord.

Approaching the left breast. Photo: Mark Ord

The Funan civilisation’s success was largely due to their ability to control the waters—marshes, channels and floodplains—of the upper Mekong Delta region they’d decided to make home. Some 2,000 years ago this region was a huge inhospitable swamp. A vast system of canals and reservoirs tamed the landscape, providing for drainage and irrigation when necessary as well as transportation of goods, passengers and troops. Canals radiated from their main port at Oc Eo, in what is today Vietnam, and spread into the interior to their inland capital at Angkor Borei. Archaeologists have identified canals up to nearly 100 kilometres in length. If you’re getting restless sitting in the speedboat just bear in mind that this entire landscape was created by people two millennia ago.

Settlements then grew up on and around the occasional sandstone hill that emerges from the watery land and ancient Chinese, trading with Funan, referred to its rulers as “kings of the mountains”. Any of the area’s hills is therefore an archaeological site, with Phnom Da being one of the best preserved and easily ... Travelfish members only (Around 800 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
Phnom Da is best approached by small speedboats seating up to four foreigners and costing a flat rate of $35, the boats leave from the eastern waterfront road close to Stoeng Takeo Restaurant. Be warned that the boats lack roofs or life jackets (most water is a maximum of waist-deep).

Phnom Da
30 kilometres by boat from Daunkeo
Dawn to dusk
Admission: $2 for foreigners

Location map for Phnom Da

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