Peung Tanon, an oasis of natural sandstone formations covering less than a square kilometer, located on a hill surrounded by lush green rice paddy’s north west of Angkor Wat. This is a great day trip from Siemreap, but for the photographer, the place comes to life at night – check our time-lapse video above.
Once a Khmer Rouge stronghold, the hilltop was a jungle full of dangers. Due to its history, the area was off bounds to the local Khmers. Clearing the trees revealing these wonderfully sculptured natural formations, the place is now gaining popularity with the local youth.
To get there, from Angkor, head north to Angkor Chum district. The journey has some cultural interest. You will pass through a number of small local villages on a fairly recent road, now full on large pot holes due to the quarrying and transportation of sandstone. Turn right at the signpost to Perng Tanorn, and follow the signs, eventually you will see the rock formations in front of you. A small welcoming village is at the base of the hill, including a local pagoda with a scattering of novice monks. A short hike to the top of the hill will reveal these wonderful formations, unlike anything else from the area.
For photography, it’s uniqueness gives it some interest and makes for a good day trip escaping temple town. However, to make the most of these natural sculptures, it’s good to be there at sunrise, sunset or indeed into the night if thats your thing. If your lucky, the sky conditions can transform these sculptures into the likes of the most amazing geological formations from around the world.
Given the remoteness and road quality, it is not recommended to travel in the dark, so a bespoke overnight photography trip can be arranged. Locals welcome visitors and unlike the Angkor park, access is unlimited (at the time of writing), we have a good relationship with the local police. Accommodation is very basic varying from an open pagoda, a shed or a shelter on top of the hill. Take your own hammock! Only local basic food is available, but water & soft drinks are available.
The best time to visit is after rain season, December until February which gives the
best chance for clear skies and dry road conditions. Our first trip here during rain season failed due to the road conditions. The second attempt was a success, with beautiful skies both evening & early morning, ideal for time-lapse / night photography. Watching the stars & listening to the chanting monks & local crickets in this surreal environment is a truly great experience. We will return. We have access to a 4×4 jeep now so a trip during rain season is possible, with a chance to shot the milky-way in this amazing place.
Special thanks to Navutu Dreams Resort for the info on this place. They run scenic / meditation tours here.
Other Time-lapse Projects: