Kirirom holds immense promise​ as new tourism draw

Kirirom holds immense promise​ as new tourism draw

With the Royal Government of Cambodia emphasizing tourism as one of the key pillars for achieving Prime Minister Hun Manet’s Pentagonal Strategy, travel and tourism players are unanimous that Cambodia needs more attractions. A promising prospect in this respect is the less well-known potential of Kirirom National Park.

Kirirom National Park, with its distinctive pine tree forest, stands out as a rare natural gem in Southeast Asia. This unique ecosystem positions Kirirom not just as a tourist spot but as a pivotal centre for wellness tourism. Its tranquil environment, combined with the aromatic pine, offers a refreshing retreat from the urban sprawl, making it an appealing destination for those seeking solace in nature.

Perched 700 metres high, Kirirom Mountain has the official mantle of Preah Soramrit Kosamak Kirirom National Park. It is located in Oamrei Phong village, Kirirom commune in Phnom Srouch district, approximately 117 kilometres southwest of the capital Phnom Penh. At one time it went by the moniker Preah Kosamak town and is around three hours’ drive from Phnom Penh.

Going by Wikipedia, the name Kirirom indicates happy mountain and this was the name conferred on it in the 1930s by King Monivong. It goes on to reveal that the original ancient name was Phnom Vorvong Sorvong referring to the two hills linked to the heroic brothers.

Kirirom National Park’s tranquil environment, combined with the aromatic pine, offers a refreshing retreat from the urban sprawl, making it an appealing destination for those seeking solace in nature. KT/Aim Valinda

To elevate the visitor experience in Kirirom, a variety of activities can be introduced that harmonize with its serene landscape. Guided hikes and trekking expeditions can be structured to explore the depth of the forest.

Camping sites can offer immersive overnight experiences. Nature observation activities, especially for bird watching and studying the unique flora, can be educational and engaging. Additionally, introducing mountain biking trails would cater to adventure enthusiasts, providing a balanced mix of tranquillity and adventure.

Showcasing stunning landscapes and rich biodiversity, Kirirom National Park offers an easily accessible haven for nature lovers seeking escape from the capital’s heat, said Catherine Germier-Hamel, Founder and CEO of Millennium Destinations.

While it leans more towards adventure activities and community-based tourism experiences, the park has immense potential to become a key eco-tourism destination. Responsible development guided by sustainability principles can unlock this potential.

“In the next decade, I envision Kirirom evolving into a high-end, meticulously preserved destination comparable to Son Doong in Vietnam,” said Jean-Benoît Lasselin, managing partner at C4 Adventures. This approach will not only safeguard its unique ecosystem but also ensure that tourism directly contributes to its conservation. By maintaining exclusivity and promoting sustainable tourism practices, Kirirom can generate substantial revenue, which in turn can be reinvested into local conservation efforts and community development.

The principal challenges for Kirirom stem from the threats posed by mass tourism which can lead to environmental degradation if not managed carefully. Issues such as illegal logging and trash management need urgent attention. The region also faces pressure from short-term development projects that might prioritize immediate gain over long-term sustainability. Ensuring the preservation of Kirirom’s delicate ecosystem while accommodating tourists requires a strategic, well-coordinated approach that balances ecological health with tourism growth.

Under the notorious Khmer Rouge, Kirirom was under the old administration of the Phnom Sruoch district in Kampong Speu province. The Khmer Rouge altered the boundaries dubbing the area Regional Kampong Speu Operational Area 3. Most of its population hails from the Chambok commune of Phnom Sruoch district. (khmertimeskh)

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