Culture & Heritage, Northeastern - Ratanakiri

Encounter traditional ways of life

Traditional rural life (Régis Binard)
Traditional rural life (Régis Binard)

The Mekong River winds its way through Cambodia and has been an integral part of the country’s culture for thousands of years. Following the mythical River towards the north, you will discover an authentic rural Cambodia where time seems to have no hold.

In Kampong Cham province you will appreciate the colonial heritage but also the Wat Nokor Bachey temple, an amazing fusion of a 19th century pagoda and an ancient temple built at the end of the 12th century, the Wat Moha Leap pagoda, one of the last wooden pagodas in the kingdom, or the Wat Hanchey pagoda and its breathtaking view on the Mekong river.

Continuing further north, the road along the river passes through beautiful villages with traditional wooden houses. Stop in Chhlong to enjoy the old market spread out at the foot of old, faded colonial houses. Then join the town of Kratie, which lies on the banks of the Mekong. You will be charmed by the old-fashioned atmosphere of this provincial town with colonial charm. Just across the river is the beautiful island of Koh Trong which can be reached by ferry. Ride a bike to discover the traditional way of life of smiling farmers and burly fishermen, and a rich land that men have turned into an orchard.

Traditional village on the road to Kratie (All Dreams Cambodia/Ana Eduardo)

Then head east to the remote Mondolkiri and Ratanakiri. Located in Cambodia’s far northeast these two provinces offer rare perspectives of Indigenous hill tribes. Massive deforestation to make way for rubber plantations and other industries has displaced these ethnic tribes, and their traditional way of life is under constant threat. Misty jungles still exist around the dwindling hill tribe communities, enhanced by tumbling waterfalls and meandering rivers. Connect with a local guide who knows how to navigate remote landscapes and understands village customs.

Whether you travel up the Mekong River through quaint towns and traditional villages surrounded by rice fields, or trek through the deep jungle, every discovery in northeast Cambodia is full of wonders.

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