Ratanakiri Cambodia : What To Do
Recommended things to do and see in and around Ratanakiri Cambodia.
For nearby destinations, a moto taxi or driving yourself is quite easy. For more distant expeditions to Khmer Loeu villages, the gem mine, and into the jungle it is best to ask your hotel/guesthouse for the latest information and conditions, and to arrange transport and guides.
Beware that in the wet season the earth roads are as slippery as hell making it damn near impossible to travel any distance.
Elephant Rides & Treks
3-hour to 1 day elephant treks can be arranged through your guesthouse/hotel to local waterfalls, Khmer Loeu villages and Yeak Laom Lake.
There are numerous gem dealers in town, Ratanakiri is a gem mining area. Bai Srohk in Bokeo district is the main area at the moment about 40km from Banlung, miners work shallow tunnels and pits digging for zircon, some of which ends up on display in the Banlung shops.
‘Hill tribe’ People & Villages
Ratanakiri has a population of about 60,000 'Khmer Loeu' people) There are actually 12 different groups of tribal peoples (including the Tampuan, Krueng, Kavet, Kachok, Charay, Prouv, Phnoung and Lan), living in the jungle and mountains, still practicing traditional ways of slash and burn agriculture, animism, traditional clothing and housing, etc.
Tours and treks can be tailored to your requirements, but most guides will suggest visiting more than one village over one to four days to see different aspects of tribal life as well as the different peoples.
Popular trips visit the Tampuan and Charay villages to see their distinctive cemetery totems and long houses, and Krueng villages to see their traditional farming techniques and unique 'high boy houses.'
Yeak Laom Volcanic Lake
This ancient volcanic crater lake is set in the Yeak Laom Protected Area. Many of the Khmer Loeu people regard the lake and the surrounding area sacred and feature heavily in local myth and legend. Swimming and picnicking are encouraged with some wooden pontoons extending into the lake. It is about 750 meters in diameter and around 50 meters deep, and is ringed by a hiking trail.
The Yeak Laom Cultural and Environmental Center on the lake trail displays and sells hilltribe handicrafts, fabrics musical instruments etc. $1entrance fee to lake area. 5km from town.
Lumkud Volcanic Lake
Another pretty lake with clear water this one sees much less visitors than Yeak Laom again $1 entrance fee approx 30km from town.
Phnom Svay Reclining Buddha
Head out of town on the Stung Treng road about 1km and turn right onto a dirt road where you can see a hill. The main temple Wat Rahtanharahm ('Wat Aran') is on the level ground. If follow the road past the wat and up the mountain just below the peak is a large reclining Buddha this point also gives you a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside.
First thing in the morning, many ethnic minority people come to the Banlung market wearing traditional clothes and baskets laden with vegetable, fruits and forest products which they sell at the market. It can be great opportunity for photos. This being the provinces however it is only early morning and the place is nearly deserted by lunchtime.
They are best just after the rainy season when water volume is high and the roads have dried out a bit and are more passable.
A 20 meter waterfall in the jungle. The rock behind the falls has been carved out by the action of the water, making it possible to walk behind the falls.If you follow some of the paths a short distance there are other falls to be viewed. 2000 riel entry fee.
Wide falls, approximately 8 meter tall plunge into a large pool area at the base where you can swim or lust laze around and view the jungle area downstream. 2000 riel entry fee.
10 meter falls in a jungle setting. You can have a swim here.
A bit further afield but worth a visit. Multi level falls are set in superb scenery. Combining this with a gem mining visit is a great option. Rubber plantations, tribal villages, forest and streams are all on view on the way adding up to a great day out. Waterfall admission is 1000 riel.
Virachey National Park
Starts about 40km northeast of Banlung it borders Laos and Vietnam. It is a mountainous jungle area and has not been completely explored. It is highly malarial in any jungle in this area. The mosquito’s that carry malaria are active at night so cover up well, use repellant and/or take anti malarial drugs (these can make you feel pretty bad in some cases).
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