Ratanakiri: An Introduction
Anyone looking to truly get off the beaten track and away from the Angkor Wat crowds should head to Cambodia’s north-east.
The region has only recently opened up to visitors. Whilst roads remain poor in parts (we say roads, actually more like dirt trails at times) and therefore journeys can be long; the rewards are immense - this is a truly stunning corner of Asia.
We use Banlung as base to explore the province of Ratanakiri. Accessible only by road, there are a series of day trips that can be made from this dusty provincial capital. In the surrounding area you can enjoy activities such as elephant trekking; camping safaris; visiting Kroung tribal villages; and relaxing with mystical water spirits on the banks of stunning Boeng Yeak Loam (a stunning crater lake and the biggest swimming pool in Cambodia!). One of the highlights for many is a visit to the unusual village of Kachon, where mysterious funeral 'celebrations' are held in the surrounding forests and visitors arriving shortly after the wet season will be rewarded with sights of majestic waterfalls throughout their journey.
There are also a number of Lao, Chinese and Vietnamese settlements within striking distance. It is also possible to continue into Laos at the border of Don Kralor or into the Central Highlands of Vietnam to the east. This remote area is extremely rural and the vast majority of the inhabitants are farmers - local produce includes pepper and cashew nuts and there are also numerous rubber plantations to be explored.
If its losing the trail and getting under the skin of Cambodia you're after then look no further; you have arrived. Ratanakiri and North-East Cambodia is outstanding and is well positioned for combining your travels with Laos or Vietnam.