to the provinces of Cambodia
updated January 2006
Located in Cambodia's wild northeast, Kratie (pronounced Kra-chay, don't
ask me where they got the spelling) is a rural province that like Kompong
Cham to the south, straddles the Mekong River, but unlike Kompong Cham,
you won't find too many people, or anything else for that matter, beyond
the provincial capital and a handful of other villages along the river.
The province is bordered by Stung Treng to the north, Mondulkiri to the
east, Vietnam to the southeast, Kompong Cham to the southwest, and Kompong
Thom to the west.
Access to the province is by road and the roads connecting Kratie to the north with Stung Treng and Laos and to the south to Kompong Cham and Phnom Penh have been recently reconstructed. People entering and exiting Cambodia by way of Laos will
pass through Kratie and should take the opportunity to spend the night
Other than the town of Kratie and its regional attractions, there is
really nowhere to go in this province except maybe Snuol which you would
pass through if you were heading to or from Mondulkiri but is not a destination
Kratie is a small, friendly town about four blocks long and three blocks
deep, dominated by a central marketplace surrounded by old, and not entirely
clean, but still charming three-story French colonial buildings. I visited
Kratie once in October 1999 and stayed at the often-recommended Star Guesthouse.
No complaints except for the blaring karaoke emanating from every building
on the block until the power went out at 10 p.m. only to resume again
shortly after five in the morning. Since I visited in 1999, the Star Guesthouse
seems to have gravitiated to the status of Khao San Road of Kratie taking
the lion's share of budget travelers. Feel free to explore other options,
Santepheap Hotel is the nicest in town.
For food, there are a number of small restaurants and the usual market
stalls as well as vendors set up along the river.
The following three attractions are along the road leading north from
town. The road itself offers a pleasant glimpse into life along the Mekong
and many of the homes are of an older, more traditional style.
Phnom Sombok is a relatively new temple situated upon the only hill around,
so it's easy to find - head north and look for a hill. A long set of steps
leads up to the entrance. Here, a small pavilion houses several mural
paintings depicting unlucky individuals subjected to all manners of torture
and horrors. For once, it's not another reminder of Khmer Rouge atrocities,
but instead is simply a caution to the observer to maintain a clean and
holy lifestyle or otherwise suffer eternal damnation in the manner so
graphically portrayed in the paintings. Another set of steps takes you
further up the hill to more small pagodas each filled with the requisite
Buddha image. The temple complex itself is relatively new so it won't
offer art historians much, but the views are pleasant and the temple grounds
This is where the famous Irrawaddy dolphins live, about seventeen kilometers
north of town. There is a viewing platform or you can take a boat out
on the river. Environmentalists are urging people not to go out in motorized
boats. Seems like good advice.
This is a pre-Angkorian settlement, however there is no trace of this
ancient town today. Though I haven't visited Sambor, apparently there's
quite a wat here and the town is worth an hour or so especially if you're
on your way to Stung Treng or something.
All text and photographs ©
1998 - 2006 Gordon Sharpless. Commercial or editorial usage without written
permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.