Those who have ever arrived in Cambodia all know that this country has not only Angkor Complex but also a history created by mighty architectural structures. Kbal Spean or called “The river of a Thousand Lingams” – a fascinating tourist spot, a holy river, is the destination that visitors shouldn’t miss in Cambodia. This flown is known as a sacred river with the riverbed carved with symbols of Shiva God, slabs with the image of Vishnu God or the lotus of Brahma God and a lot of bas-reliefs of Apsara dancers…

This wonder lies on the top of Kulen Hills at the altitude of 450m, 55km from Siem Reap. Its name in Khmer language is Kbal Spean, meaning “bridgehead” (literally) and “origin” (figuratively). Visitors, especially Western people often call it “the river of a thousand lingas” because of numerous lingas sculpted in the riverbed.

Isolated from the outside world, this river is covered by the endless green color of forests. The water flows smoothly without loud noise. It is more exact to call it a stream because of its small flow. Deriving from the peak of the hill, this flow runs through slabs under forest canopies. On the stretch of the river with the total area of nearly 100,000 m2, Khmer people carved a lot of Hindu god, flower, animal and yoni reliefs. It brings the deep faith in gods and ancient people’s dreams of prosperity. This is considered a sacred river which everyone wants to visit at least once in their lifetime to pray and bath in.

According to locals, the river of a thousand lingas is famous due to many sculptural masterpieces made of stone in the riverbed. Thousands of linga and yoni statues in various sizes along with god statues in Khmer Epic are finely carved. This is the most time-consuming artwork with over 100 years. Its most outstanding and important part is a thousand lingas which represent the destructive power according to Hinduism. Until now, people still wonder how predecessors could create this structure and carve reliefs in the riverbed. Cambodians believe that if children bath in this stream, they will grow up strongly and intelligently. In the festive season, thousands of children are often taken to bath here by their parents with the hope for physical strength.

The best time to visit this place is the dry season, between November and May, when reliefs on the banks and in the riverbed can be seen clearly without being sunk in the water. Especially, over thousands of years, the river still retains linga and god statues. In the wet season, the water doesn’t rise too high, so we can still admire flexible images of lingas through water. Besides, this stretch of the river also brings tourists more interesting things with beautiful waterfalls. Along paths in the forest, visitors can find out erect cascades to bath in.

After discovering the river of a thousand lingas, tourists can enjoy rustic foods in thatched eateries. Furthermore, they can also taste a fruit dessert which is a specialty of this land (a type of litchi).

Though there are no temples, this place still exudes the mysteriousness and sanctity. It is a really an ideal destination for those who are enthralled by exploring the religious values of Khmer people.

Despite poetic scenery and the sacred river with so many unique religious symbols, tourism services here are still limited. The reason might be inconvenient transport and large distance from the city. But it can’t be denied that Kbal Spean – the river of a thousand lingas is an attractive landmark of Siem Reap in particular and in Cambodia in general. Don’t stop only in Angkor temples of Siem Reap! Visit this sacred river to have more interesting travel experiences!

Top attractions in Siem Reap