Following the meandering Mekong towards the north, you will discover an authentic rural Cambodia that envelops you in softness and invites you to take a slow pace. See how the “Mother of Waters” shapes the landscape, irrigates the fertile land and feeds a population with a traditional way of life, mainly based on agriculture and fishing. In a serene countryside, ancient pagodas welcome the faithful, charming towns still preserve testimonies of colonial architecture, orchard-islands are scattered on the great river and villages of wooden houses shelter a smiling population that likes to share its daily activities with visitors.
Head east to venture to the secluded provinces of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri and you’ll be rewarded with views of unfiltered natural beauty and sacred waters.
Plunging into the dense jungle below, Bousra is one of Cambodia’s most impressive falls. Famous throughout the country, this double-drop waterfall has an upper tier of some 10m and a spectacular lower tier with a thundering 25m drop. Getting here involves a 33km, one-hour journey east of Sen Monorom, the provincial capital.
Ancient volcanic activity that gave rise to the region’s famous blue zircon gemstones also formed Yeak Laom Lake — pooled within a 4,000-year-old volcanic crater. These clear waters, glimmering in a nearly perfect circle against the surrounding green forest, are located only about 5 kilometres from Ratanakiri’s capital city, Banlung, and can be reached by tuk-tuk or motorbike.
Though Yeak Laom Lake is revered among locals, it is possible to swim in the cool, translucent lake. Or simply take a contemplative stroll around the perimeter where tropical birds alight on native flora.
A guided hike through the lush jungles of Ratanakiri reveals more sources of free-flowing waterfalls. Just beyond Banlung, you can reach the cascading waters of Kachang by crossing a suspension bridge, while a little farther out is Ka Tieng waterfall that was named for a local hill tribe. Soak up the sun and cool off at Cha Ong falls, another natural treasure within easy reach from Banlung.
A journey to the North East region is ideal for travellers in search of outdoor wonders and who crave a connection with people and nature in its purest form.