Getting Off the Beaten Track at Peung Tanon Standing Stones | Cambodia

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Getting Off the Beaten Track at Peung Tanon Standing Stones Cambodia

Located about 70 km to the North of Siem Reap city, at the top of a cluster of hills is Peung Tanon or Standing Stones as they’re otherwise known. It’s a stunning, natural geological wonder consisting of a series of huge sandstone formations dotted around the hilltop site.  

I’d never even heard of this site until another expat told me she’d visited with a local friend. This, of course, piqued my interest and I set about arranging a day trip there with friends.

Peung Tanon Standing Stones Day Trip

Peung Tanon Standing Stones, Sandstone Pillar Site in Cambodia
Nobody seems to know much about Peung Tanon at all. How they formed and their history remains a mystery.
 
When asked, a guide at the site suggested the site could once have been an ocean bed and the Khmer Rouge may have used it during the Pol Pot regime. To be honest, this sounded very much like guesswork.
When we visited Peung Tanon Standing Stones there was no entrance fee. It did, however, look as if a ticket booth was halfway through being built so I suspect it won’t be free for long.
 

Things to Do at Peung Tanon

A visit to Peung Tanon Standing Stones can be done in a short day trip from Siem Reap. It takes between five and seven hours depending on how long you spend there and if you stop at all on the way there or back.
 
Once you arrive don’t expect there to be a whole load of activities or facilities to keep you entertained…there’s not. What you will find, however, are many unique, naturally formed geological features, set in a stunning lush, green landscape. There are really only two things to do – explore the site and admire the views at your leisure.
 

Explore the Site

Shrine at Peung Tanon Standing Stones, Siem Reap, Cambodia

When you first arrive at the site there’s a small, tree-shaded parking area for you to leave your vehicle. When we got there, a few locals and a couple of saffron-robed monks were sat on wooden platforms and lazing in hammocks.

A short 10-minute easy trek uphill and through a small community is needed to reach the actual site. We passed by a few houses on stilts and some sort of shrine, before emerging out of the trees onto the hilltop.

Face in the rock at Peung Tanon Standing Stones in Cambodia

Dotted amongst carpets of colourful flowers and bright green vegetation are many sandstone formations and rocks of different shapes, sizes and colours. Some rocks appeared to be balanced on top of one another or positioned in such a way they gave the illusion of a human face or some kind of animal

Lizard basking on hot rocks at Peung Tanon Standing Stones, Cambodia

As we explored the site we were dive-bombed by low flying dragonflies and beautiful butterflies. We also spotted a gecko and another unidentified lizard basking on the hot rocks.

Admire the Views

Countryside view from Peung Tanon Standing Stones near Siem Reap, Cambodia
The other great thing about this site is the amazing views across stunning Cambodian countryside. To the left of the rocks are verdant green rice paddies, water buffaloes, swaying palms and red dirt roads
 
Some of the rocks are climbable and give some great photo opportunities. The best is a huge rock to the right of the site which offers a birds-eye view of the other standing stones and rural Cambodia.

 

Rock Climbing and Bouldering

One other thing Peung Tanon would be perfect for is rock climbing and bouldering so if you have the shoes and equipment with you be sure to take them along.
 
Andy forgot his and was gutted as many of the formations offered some great climbing routes.

Eat and Drink at Pueng Tanon

There are a few dubious looking little food shacks and stalls around the car park area of the site, but I’d recommend giving them a wide berth. The canned drinks and bottled water are probably o.k. but personally, I wouldn’t risk the food.

Your best bet is to take a picnic lunch with you which you can enjoy on the flat surface of one of the rocks.

How to Get to Pueng Tanon 

Peung Tanon Standing Stones is as ‘off the beaten track‘ as you’ll get near Siem Reap, which I soon realised when I began to organise the trip. There were only a couple of listings in Google (with different spellings), and very few locals had even heard of it.

You can get to the site by van, car, tuk tuk, motorbike or bicycle. Given the state of the roads and the length of the journey, I’d imagine going by tuk tuk or bicycle could make for a pretty uncomfortable journey.

 

We hired a mini-bus as there was a group of eleven of us, you can expect to pay between $60 USD (£47) and $80 USD (£62.50) for a mini-van. The other good option is to go by motorcycle. You can hire a moto dop (motorcycle-taxi) with a driver for between $25 USD (£19.50) and $30 USD (£23.50).
 

The Journey to Peung Tanon

Peung Tanon Standing Stones is in Kok Dong Village in Siem Reap province to the West of Kbal Spean and takes around two hours to get there. The journey is a quite an adventure as the roads are in a pretty dire state. They look as if someone has rolled out a strip of tarmac down the middle but forgotten the edges. They’re also full of huge pot holes and cracks, so be prepared for a bumpy ride.
 
The rough journey is worth it though as you also get to see some of rural Cambodia, completely different to the busy, touristy Siem Reap.
 
The route takes you past rice paddies stretching as far as the eye can see, buffaloes cooling off in muddy water and fields full of tapioca and cassava plants. You also pass through several villages, with locals going about their daily life, children playing and all manner of livestock, cats, and dogs milling about.
 
On our way back we also spotted some pigs on the back of a bike…no doubt on the way to market! Not a nice sight to behold but the namesake of Andy’s YouTube Channel Going Nomad…aka Pigs on Bikes‘. 

 

 

After trying many variations of the spelling, I managed to find some directions on Google Maps, which are in the map above.

Peung Tanon Standing Stones alternative directions

One thing to note is that our driver didn’t follow this map exactly. I’m assuming because the roads suggested on Google Maps were too bad as you get closer to the site. I couldn’t embed a map of our actual route but the screenshot above should help.

Half built ticket booth at Peung Tanon Standing Stones in Cambodia

This is the ticket booth that’s being built and is where you need to turn off from the main road.

You can watch Andy’s vlog about the site here:
 

 

To date, Peung Tanon Standing Stones is the only sandstone formation site of its kind discovered in CambodiaThere is a natural beauty to these fascinating natural formations in their lush setting, and the lack of tourists make it even more special.

 

If you have the time left on your visa for Cambodia and stomach for a very bumpy journey be sure to head out of Siem Reap to this very off the beaten track destination before it becomes another of Cambodia’s tourist attractions.

Cambodia Travel Resources

Planning your trip to Cambodia? Here are some of our recommended useful resources to help you have the best time possible:

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE. If you’re travelling long-term like us and from the EU True Traveller is best. If you’re from other countries worldwide, World Nomads is good. 

A new contender for long-term travel insurance is SafetyWing, which you can pay for on a month by month basis. This is also a good option for shorter trips.

● Find great flight deals on Skyscanner US, Skyscanner UK and Kayak.

● Booking.com or HotelsCombined have the best hotel prices.

● Our go-to for self-catering accommodation is  Airbnb.

● Before booking accommodation, check reviews on TripAdvisor.

● Even in the days of Google we still like to use guidebooks Getting Off the Beaten Track at Peung Tanon Standing Stones | Cambodia 1for ideas, like Lonely Planet UK and Lonely Planet US and Canada.

● Book buses, ferries and taxis with Camboticket or 12Go Asia.

● Discover fantastic trips and activities with and Klook, Viator and GetYourGuide.

● G Adventures and Intrepid Travel offer group holidays and tours, or compare many tour agencies with TourRadar.

Have you visited Peung Tanon Standing Stones or another hidden gem in Cambodia? Tell us about it in the comments.

Read More Off the Beaten Track in Cambodia 

 

Getting Off the Beaten Track at Kulen Mountain

Getting Off the Beaten Track in Kampong Cham

Getting Off the Beaten Track in Kratie

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Getting Off the Beaten Track at Peung Tanon Standing Stones, Cambodia
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20 thoughts on “Getting Off the Beaten Track at Peung Tanon Standing Stones | Cambodia

  1. Diana

    I wish I had more time in Camodia 🙁 This looks amazing! The only places which were less touristy I’ve visited while in Cambodia are Kratie and Battambang and they were certainly worth it! Maybe next time then… thanks for the tips!

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      I loved Kratie too – haven’t visited Battambang yet but it’s on my list to do in the next few months!

  2. Swayam Tiwari

    These are geological formations which have formed after millions of years of interaction between rocks and wind. It is strange to find such formations in a humid and moist country like Cambodia because the wind there is humid unlike in dry countries and places like ours.

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Thanks for the insight Swayam – interesting to hear. I did think the ocean bed theory didn’t sound quite right!

  3. Marge Gavan

    I am quite impressed by those rock formation. They look so unique. How come I have never heard of Peung Tanon until now. I would have made the trip there had I known about it when I went to Siem Reap. All I knew of Siem Reap, to be honest, is the Angkor Wat. I would have wanted to explore its off-the-beaten destinations.

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      I’ve visited Cambodia 4 times prior to moving here (over 10 years) and I’d never heard of it either. I think it was only recently discovered which is probably why you hadn’t heard of it. Even most of the locals still don’t know about it!

  4. LaiAriel R. Samangka

    Wow, those standing stones are just really stunning at their own right. They are just showing so much serenity while owning their innate beauty for us to enjoy. I haven’t heard about this one, and it fact I find it really unique. I will surely visit here and traipse my feet along with its stunning innate beauty If get the chance. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Yes they really are stunning aren’t they; I’m glad I was able to share something you haven’t heard of before! I hope you get the chance to visit them!

  5. Mikee Pascual

    Cambodia has always been a world of temples for me, and I’m happy how you are sharing off the beaten sites for a new perspective for people like me who haven’t been to the country. Also, those standing stones look amazing and peculiar at the same time!

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      That’s exactly what this series is about; I really hope people spend some extra time here to see other things as well as temples!

  6. cathy

    I actually haven’t heard of this off beaten path thingy in Cambodia, until just now. haha I am planning to go back again later this year and this could be an option for me to see. The stones look fantastic as it is. And I hope that this would remain its less touristy atmosphere.

  7. Noel

    Thanks for the detailed info on this. I plan to go to Cambodia a few weeks from now and this will help me a lot on our trip. The standing stones really look amazing. Thank you for giving us a heads up on what we can do there.

  8. Sandy N Vyjay

    The Standing stones are really intriguing. The rock with the human face looks so lifelike. Nice to read about places other than the temples of Angkor Wat. There is so much to see in Cambodia beyond the famous temples too.

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Yes there were, we loved wandering round them trying to make out faces and other shapes in them. I’m loving exploring the off the beaten track places in Cambodia.

  9. Karie

    Wow I’ve never heard about these standing stones before. It’s so interesting especially those rocks which look like faces.I’m curious to know how old these are. Love the greenery surrounding the place . Thanks for sharing those tips!

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Neither had I until recently, that’s why i had to visit! I have no idea how old they are, but hopefully one day we’ll learn more about them!

  10. neha

    The standing stones look so interesting. The way they are balanced. Reminded me of seeing a similar but much smaller balanced stone back home in India. It was an interesting visit. And here in cambodia the landscape surrounding the stones is also amazing

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Where abouts are those stones in India?

      I think the landscape, flowers and greenery surrounding this site make it all the more special.

  11. Steve Lidgey

    I did it by cycling to/from Siem Reap. You have to be fit. The ride is at times incredibly scenic. Though a watchful eye is needed as truck after truck go past on the road – the reason for those large potholes.
    By the way: no Apsara pass is required for Peung Tanon. However make sure you don’t go through the park to get there as one would be needed then. There is a way around the park so not necessary to pass through it.

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Yes it would definitely be doable by bicycle but it would take a long time and you’d have to be fit!

      Yes currently no charge or Apsara pass is needed, it’s free although as I wrote in the post it does look as if a ticket booth is being built so it may not be free for long!

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