If you are looking for a little adventure that’s off the beaten path while on your visit to Siem Reap then Kbal Spean or “The River of a Thousand Lingas” is the place for you.

What to expect

Kbal Spean is perfect for anyone who loves to hike.  The River of a Thousand Lingas takes you on a trail that requires you to cross several streams, climb small boulders, and navigate over and around roots that that have taken over some of the path.

We visited Cambodia in June so the weather was very humid and sometimes rainy.  A useful tip to anyone visiting Southeast Asia during the monsoon season is to bring layers and be prepared for everything.  We made sure to pack lots of water, a portable rain jacket, an umbrella, and quick drying clothes.

We are avid hikers, so hiking Kbal Spean was pretty easy.  But if you are not used to hiking or traversing uneven terrain then this hike can be a mild challenge.  Just make sure to take breaks when needed and to be mindful of your footing. Remember that you are here to have fun and soak up the culture.  Take your time to enjoy The River of a Thousand Lingas.

Be careful as you hike or you might squish one of these furry and cute caterpillars.
As you make your way to the top of the trail, which takes about an hour, you will come across a Thousand Lingas that are carved directly into the rocks of the riverbed.

What are Lingas?

The most common answer would be that a Linga is a phallic symbol, but the symbology and meaning of the linga in Hinduism is much more complex. Basically, the linga represents the doorway to the beyond–the beginning and the end of creation.  

So why did they carve so many lingas into the river bed?  

Kbal Spean was a culturally important spot for Siem Reap.  The water here flows into the Siem Reap River and into Angkor Wat.  The ligas were meant to purify and bless the waters before it made its way to the holy temples.  

So if you have some extra time on your hands, want to get off the beaten path, and want to delve deeper into the rich history and culture of Siem Reap then making the trip out the The River of a Thousand Lingas is the perfect excursion for you.