The road from Phnom Penh to northeast Cambodia follows the Mekong River to Kratie through the beautiful Cambodian countryside. The great river is dotted with islands which, in the dry season, are lined with sandy beaches. Located opposite Kratie and only accessible by ferry, Koh Trong is worth a visit. Discover this tiny island by bike or horse cart, meet its people, rest on its beaches and don’t leave before tasting its huge pomelos.
As you stroll the open-air stalls in Banlung or trek through the forest with a local forager, dining in the Ratanakiri region promises to be an adventure for your palate.
All around Banlung, restaurants cater to travellers with a mix of authentic Khmer meals, Western dishes and other global flavours. Join the locals who gather at Banlung Market to feast on steaming bowls of noodle soups and bor bor rice porridge, skewers of roasted meats and other savoury dishes. Alongside piles of fresh tropical produce, sweet treats abound — like ripe bananas served hot off a grill, coconut sticky rice and sweetened fried dough.
Located in Cambodia’s far northeast corner on the borders of Laos and Vietnam, this secluded province offers rare perspectives of Indigenous hill tribes. Local hill tribes, collectively known as the Chunchiet people, make up about 70% of this region’s population — while representing only about 1% of the country’s total makeup. 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.
Venture to the secluded region of Ratanakiri and you’ll be rewarded with views of unfiltered natural beauty and sacred waters.
Ancient volcanic activity that gave rise to the region’s famous blue zircon gemstones (“Ratanakiri” means “gem mountain” or “mountain of gems”) 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.