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talesofasia guide 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 here.

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 in itself.

Kratie (town)
Phnom Sombok

Kratie (town)
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
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 are attractive.

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.

Provinces Guide



All text and photographs 1998 - 2006 Gordon Sharpless. Commercial or editorial usage without written permission of the copyright holder is prohibited.