Did you know Siem Reap, Cambodia is home to the largest reclining Buddha in Cambodia?
It is found at the top of Preah Ang Thom pagoda on Phnom Kulen Mountain. Learn more about the famous reclining Buddha’s history, religious significance, and ways to visit it in Phnom Kulen National Park below.
History of the Siem Reap Reclining Buddha
Unfortunately there are not many primary sources on the history, but experts believe the Buddha was carved around the same time as the construction of Preah Ang Thom in the 16th-century. That’s because the Buddha is a centerpiece of the pagoda and fits well into the overall design. What is interesting is that the reclining Buddha was not sculpted at a more convenient location and carried to the present site. Instead, it was carved into the sandstone formations at Preah Ang Thom severals stories above the pagoda. This is the same sandstone that would be later be used to build Angkor’s most famous temples.
The reclining Buddha is a massive feature and stretches of eight meters (approximately 25 feet) in length. This makes it the largest reclining Buddha in Cambodia and one of the 30 longest in Asia. Today, the Buddha has been partially painted and is draped in garments. You will also find some text inscribed from before it was carefully monitored. Lastly, you can find candles and places to make offering all around the Buddha
How to Visit the Reclining Buddha
Visiting the reclining Buddha is rather easy nowadays. First and foremost, you need to pay the Phnom Kulen entrance fee. This means purchasing a national park ticket either in Siem Reap or at the mountain itself [Expert Tip: Buy at City Angkor Hotel to Save Money]. From there you will journey to the base of Phnom Kulen, show your ticket, and make your way up the hill. This part of the journey takes approximately 30 minutes and features amazing views of countryside.
Soon after you will arrive at the waterfall. Continue past the waterfall to the parking lot at Preah Ang Thom. You will then walk through various stalls selling food and souvenirs before reaching a staircase. Ascend the stairs and venture to the left. You will see signs that lead you to another, narrow staircase taking you up to the Buddha. Make sure to take off your sandals before climbing the stairs of our respect. Children and elderly residents will watch them for you while you visit. You should offer them a small donation (around USD 1) upon return.
Follow the staircase up, and you will reach a concrete platform. You can then proceed into a beautifully decorated room and slowly circle the reclining Buddha, making offerings if you so choose. Take your time existing the platform as, on a clear day, you will see some of the best views of the National Park’s canopy and surrounding countryside.
What Should I Bring?
There is nothing you are required to bring when visting the reclining Buddha. Nevertheless, we do have two suggestions based on our experiences. First, remember you are visting a holy site. As such, be sure to dress appropriately. Dressing appropriate means not wearing a bathing suit and covering your shoulders at all time during this portion of the trip. After you leave Preah Ang Thom, you can dress into casual clothes for the waterfall including tank tops, bikinis, etc.
Another common thing is to bring small, 100 Khmer Riel notes. The small bills are valued at 2.5 cents each and allow you to make donations as you proceed up the main staircase to the pagoda. You can also donate in boxes and plats at the reclining Buddha. We recommend converting at least 1 USD to Khmer Riel which gives you 40 bills that you can donate throughout your experience. You can find money changers at the souvenir shops and food stalls who will charge a small commission.