Kratie Province, Cambodia

Kratie, CambodiaKratie, a sleepy colonial town on the banks of the Mekong River, is located in eastern Cambodia. The town was developed by the French colonialists in the late 19th century as a port for various goods being transported along the Mekong River. With its remaining French colonial buildings and traditional Cambodian wooden houses Kratie retains an atmospheric charm. Add in the shady riverside boulevard, the smiling locals with their laid back nature, the stunning sunsets, and it’s easy to understand why Kratie has a compulsive charm which causes many visitors to linger.

Irrawaddy DolphinThe main attraction in Kratie is undoubtedly the Irrawaddy Dolphins. Despite facing extinction, there are less than 100 left in this part of the Mekong, they are surprisingly easy to spot in a stretch of river north of the town. These dolphins are not as playful as their sea-water cousins, however as the boat paddles out into the river you will soon spot them breaking the surface of teh water. Being out on the Mekong River with these delightful creatures as the sun begins to set is a magical experience…

Further north is the remote pagoda of Sasar Moy Roy, so called as it is claimed 100 pillars hold up its roof. In the grounds of the pagoda is a stupa containing the ashes of a Princess who, according to legend, was killed by a crocodile more than 500 years ago. Spending a night at the pagoda can be arranged as can traditional blessings and musical performances. Closer to town is Phnom Sambok where after climbing several flights of steps, snuggled between two hilltops, you will find another pagoda which affords beautiful views over the Mekong river and lush countryside beyond.

Wat Roka KandalKratie town itself is a delight to wander around, discovering its early morning bustling market where fish and fruit vendors line the surrounding pavements creating a dynamic atmosphere, and taking in the variety of building styles. Buy some Krolan, sticky rice mixed with coconut and beans and cooked in bamboo tubes, Kratie is renowned for this snack. Horse carts are a traditional from of transport in the town, and you can take one to visit nearby Wat Roka Kandal, a beautifully restored 18th century pagoda, the only one of its type in Cambodia. Take a trip along the banks of the mighty Mekong river and you will see many small fishing boats plying their trade as well as a number of floating villages. Then as the sun begins to set why not join the locals and sit out near the river with a refreshing fruit shake whilst savouring the atmosphere…

This stretch of the Mekong contains many islands and the one visible from the town is Koh Trong, catch the ferry and take a bicycle ride to sample traditional rural Cambodian village life. Further upstream is the large island ofKho Pdao, where a community based tourism project has been established, stay overnight and join in with village life.

Mekong River, KratieIn addition Kratie offers bird watching opportunities and the surrounding countryside is a cyclist’s dream. It is also the southern ‘gateway’ to the Mekong Discovery Trail where you can experience a range of transport modes as you choose between a variety of trips that take you north along the Mekong River, through spectacular scenery and unhurried villages, staying in a variety of accommodation, as you lesiurely make your way to the town of Stung Treng. A truly Cambodian experience!
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