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Phnom Santuk

Phnom Santuk is a cultural and natural site located in Ko Koh village, Ko Koh commune, Santuk district, about 17 kilometers south of Kampong Thom provincial town. The site includes four mountains: Phnom Srah Kmao or Phnom Tbeng, Phnom Penchum or Phnom Kraper, Phnom Champa and Phnom Santuk.

On the top of the 180-high mountain, is a pagoda known as Wat Kirichaomchong Phnom Santuk. The pagoda gate at the foot of the mountain is very beautiful. This pagoda itself is reached by climbing an 809-step staircase that features a long concrete hand rail in the shape of Prohm carrying naga, which was constructed in 1996. Along the staircase, there are many big trees and large stones. Though a long hike, there are four points of interest on the climb to the mountaintop:

  • At 230th step, there is an access to a rock valley and a well.
  • At 455th step, there is a resting hall to the left, which has a Buddha statue.
  • At 620th step, there are large rocks and trees to offer shade for weary climbers.
  • At 694th step, there are a number of huge rocks at the right known as Chanre. Between the rocks is a slit about 5 centimeters wide, 3 meters long and 6 meters deep.
  • To reach the pagoda, visitors can take either the old or new staircase from Chanre spot. The main temple of the pagoda covers 16 square meters. North of the pagoda, there is a worship hall that covers 144 square meters. Made of concrete, it has a ceramic tile floor and a red tile roof. Behind the pagoda, there is a Chinese temple that faces east. It houses a Bodhisattva Guan Yin statue.

Behind the temple, there are five statues of the reclining Buddha reaching nirvana and 99 smaller statues. In front of this temple, there are many other statues, including Preah Bat Choan Tuk, the Buddha’s footprints; Chan Re’s Mother’s Breast statue; and Chhat Ruot, a multilayered umbrella. Nearby is a statue of Eysei Akinet, where local people often worship.

Next to Phnom Santuk is another mountain, Phnom Srah Kmao, which has an old brick temple and a bat cave on the mountaintop, where every day, between 5 and 6 p.m., thousands of bats fly from and into the countryside.