Hugging both the Vietnam and Laos borders in the far north east of Cambodia is the ruggedly beautiful Ratanakiri province, home to the country's ethnic minorities, the Kreung and Tompuon. You are bound to appreciate this mountainous location if you value unspoiled nature as it is one of the least developed pockets of the country and – perhaps best of all – is a likely spot to witness endangered wildlife. If you are lucky, you may spot elusive gibbons, sun bears, tigers and leopards as well as other native animals that call this lush rural area home.
Here, we recommend staying in or around the provincial capital of Ban Lung, as this city provides a good base for exploring this wild province. Nearby in the verdant green jungle lies the serenely beautiful Yeak Laom, a freshwater lake within a volcanic crater. Undoubtedly Cambodia’s finest natural swimming pool, and the perfect spot to end a day of sightseeing, where one can join the locals and listen to the birds’ evening chorus while admiring a beautiful sunset shimmering across the glassy crystal-clear water.
Elsewhere in the province are several large waterfalls – the most impressive being the twelve metre high Ka Chanh – many gem mines and the opportunity for jungle hikes and boat trips; ideal for those with a taste for adventure as well as those who simply want to embrace the great outdoors. The province’s remoteness and simple way of life are, in fact, its charms and a visit to the rustic stilted houses will make this strikingly clear to any visitor.
If you are tempted by gaining authentic insights into traditional Khmer countryside and tribal life, Ratanakiri would be a great addition to a tailor-made tour of Cambodia; especially if you are a nature enthusiast or keen ecotourist, as the scenery really is spectacular.
- Mr David Wallace, North India
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