Photo: Downtown Kompong Thom.

Phnom Santuk

Our rating:

This hilltop pagoda with an active monastery embodies both the good and bad of modern Cambodian culture.

Photo of Phnom Santuk

It has a beautiful view from the top of the wat, as well as friendly English-speaking monks keen to have a chat and Cambodian teens interested in practising the English skills they learn in school. It also has kitschy statues of poor quality located along the 980-step path to the top of the hill and an abundance of elderly and child beggars, whose requests can become a bit relentless.

Some portions of the path are quite steep, so be prepared to feel a little out of breath when you arrive at the peak. Steps are tile and must have been built in the relatively recent past, with small, cement figurines of humans lining up along either side. There are a few places to stop and look along the way, with a couple of Buddha statues built into the rocks and an outcropping offering a lovely view.

At the top is the main, gilded pagoda with white walls covered in Khmer script, surrounded by a series of figurines and small temples. Curved cement bridges connect various small temples and statues of people, horses and gods. A large UFO-like structure rises up from the main lookout point with a statue of a man underneath — we were told by locals it’s supposed to be King-Father Sihanouk in his youth. Macaques, as with most Khmer pagodas, wander lazily around the grounds, sifting for crumbs through rubbish left behind. Nothing — beside the views — is picturesque, but it’s a popular spot for Cambodians as it is considered to be one of the most sacred sites in the country and an opportunity to do-as-the-locals-do in Kompong Thom.

There are more interesting hills to climb in Cambodia, such as Phnom Bok and Phnom Udong, but if you combine this with sites along the route such as Prasat Kok Roka and the silk and carving village it is a worthwhile half-day out.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to support independent travel writing on Southeast Asia, please subscribe to Travelfish—it’s just A$35 per year (less than A$1 per week)!

By .

Start planning your holiday today

Sent every Monday, our newsletter is full of travel advice, news & special deals. Read past issues.


How to get there
A round-trip motodop ride from Kompong Thom should cost about US$10 or $12 for a tuk tuk and takes approximately 30 minutes each way.

Phnom Santuk
About 15 kilometres southeast of town, off National Road 6
Admission: $2

Location map for Phnom Santuk

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Kompong Thom.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Kompong Thom.
 Check out our listings of other things to do in and around Kompong Thom.
 Read up on how to get to Kompong Thom, or book your transport online with Camboticket.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Kompong Thom? Please read this.
 Browse tours in Cambodia with Tourradar.

See below for more sights and activities in Kompong Thom that are listed on

Top of page

Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Kompong Thom? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Cambodia.

Top of page