Kratie, known as Kracheh in Khmer, is a province located in the northeast of Cambodia. The provincial capital of Kratie is also called Kratie. Kratie is 245 kilometers from Phnom Penh city, it is the most popular province in Cambodia to see Irrawaddy dolphins. Besides that it is a great dolphin spotting province, Kratie is also rich in cultural and natural attractions. If you travel to Mondolkiri or Ratanakiri province, you should pass through Kratie and spend one night or two there. There are several tourist attractions in Kratie that you should visit, plus you can find a lot of good budget accommodations in Kratie as well. In Kratie, there are some nice French and Khmer style architecture remaining from the past, as it was spared the wartime bombing during the 1970s. Here is a list of things to do and places to go in Kratie.
You might also interest with: Places To Visit In Cambodia | The Best Destinations For Nature Lovers
Explore Kratie | Dolphin Spotting Province
Visit Wat Sorsor Moi Roi (Temple of 100 Columns)
Wat Sorsor Moi Roi, also known as the 100-Column temple. It is situated 35 kilometers north of Kratie town. Wat Sorsor Moi Roi is held up by 108 columns, was constructed on the site of a 19th century wooden temple. The ancient temple was struck by lightning in the past and part of the temple was burned down. The temple was reconstructed into a new modern temple which is standing today, and only a few pillars from the ancient temple remain until these days. The wall of Wat Sorsor Moi Roi features legends of nature, and other traditional Buddhist stories. Please be aware that when you visit any pagodas in Cambodia, you should dress appropriately (knees and shoulders should be covered), and behave respectively.
Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre -Kratie
Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre (MTCC) lies within the grounds of Wat Sorsor Moi Roi, in Sambor village. So if you get a chance to visit Wat Sorsor Moi Roi, you should visit this centre as well. Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre was established by Conservation International in 2011, with the purpose of conserving turtles, and educate the local residents. People in Cambodia and Vietnam consider turtle meat as a delicacy, and the meat is also used in traditional medicine. MTCC is the several species of turtles, including the rare Cantor’s giant softshell turtle. At MTCC, turtle eggs are collected from the riverbanks, incubated, hatched, and hatchling nurtured for 10 months before being released in the wild.
Spot the dolphins at Mekong River
The must-do thing in Kratie is spotting the dolphins at the Mekong River. The dolphins are the main tourist attraction of Kratie. Mekong River around the Kratie town is home to a rare species of Irrawaddy dolphins. Kampi village is the best spot to watch the dolphins and the largest dolphin pool on the Mekong River, which is only 15 kilometers north of Kratie. The best season to watch the Mekong dolphins is the dry season, as the level or water is low and you get better chances to see a group of dolphins together. Because Irrawaddy dolphins are river dolphins, therefore, they do not approach tourist boats like some marine dolphins do. So there is no best time of the day to see the dolphins.
The Mekong River Irrawaddy dolphin population estimation is less than 85 individual dolphins remaining, and we hope that the number of dolphins will increase over the years as the dolphins are being protected these days and the fishermen in the area are being educated. The ticket to see the dolphins is 9 USD for one person, 7 USD each for three or more. If you do not want to get on a boat, you can just sit on the riverbank and watch the dolphins as well, but you still have to pay.
Climb up Phnom Sombok
Phnom Sombok is 10 kilometers north of Kratie, is the only hill in Kratie. It is so common in Cambodia that on a hill or a mountain, there is usually a pagoda on the top of the hill or mountain. Phnom Sombok is not an exception, as there is an active pagoda up on the top of this small mountain. The pagoda of the Phnom Sombok offers the best views across the Mekong river. You should visit Phnom Sombok when you are on the way back from the dolphin spotting at Kampi one late afternoon, as it is a great sunset watching spot.
Walk around Chhlong -Kratie
Chhlong is a sleepy town of Kratie province, which brings back the memory to the period French colony in Cambodia. Chhlong was a bustling port for French and Chinese traders before the 1970s. Therefore, there are many colonial architecture lining the riverfront, which remain until these days. During the Pol Pot regime between 1975 to 1979, villagers were evicted from the town to rural areas, and the Khmer Rouge army occupied most of the town’s buildings.
Nowadays, all these colonial architecture are occupied by local residents, so you cannot go in to explore. In the town of Chhlong, there is a classic colonial building Le Relais de Chhlong. It is a stunning French mansion, which has been converted into a hotel not long ago. If you decide to spend a night in Chhlong, we recommend you to stay at Le Relais de Chhlong. The hotel is settled amongst lush tropical gardens. The hotel offers a vintage decoration, while well equipped with air conditioning, and other amenities.
In Chhlong, there is a pagoda known as Roka Kandal pagoda. It is one of the oldest and most charming pagoda dating back to the 19th century. This pagoda looks quite normal on the outside, but the interior design of the pagoda will surely amaze you. High wooden ceiling decorated with vintage chandeliers, with some black and white pictures showcase about the life of the local people.
Visit Koh Trong -Kratie
Across the river from Kratie town is Koh Trong (Trong Island). This small island is filled with Khmer style wooden houses, and palm trees, which is a national tree of Cambodia. To get to Koh Trong, you need to travel by boat across the river. When you land on Koh Trong, there is a bicycle hire shop, which you can hire a bicycle and ride around the island. This island is a great example of rural Cambodian life, and bicycle is the best option to get around and understand more about rural Cambodian life. Cycling in Koh Trong will make you feel like you travel back to the 1980s, where there are no cars, only some motorbikes, bullock carts and bicycles travelling on the roads.
Along the road, there are trees and some Khmer traditional wooden houses, which would make a peaceful trip for you. There are several homestays and a resort on Koh Trong, which you can spend a night or two there. We recommend to stay at the only resort of Koh Trong, which is Rajabori Villas Resort. The concept of this resort is “ancient”, which you can tell by the way they decorate their hotel with paintings, statues, and wooden furniture. At the southern part of Koh Trong, there is a small Vietnamese pagoda and a small floating Vietnamese village.
Kayaking is always a good idea, especially for adventurers. At Kratie, you can enjoy the natural wonders of the Mekong River and the surrounding areas by kayaking. There are only two kayaking trip operators in Kratie, Sorya Kayaking Adventures and Dolphin Kayaking Adventures. They have several trip options for you, it is either, half day, one day or overnight trips, that are available at reasonable prices. While kayaking, you can see dolphins, many bird species, forest, and Vietnames floating villages along the Mekong River and Te River. The trips include all kayaking equipment, meals, drinks, snacks and ticket to dolphin area.
Explore Mekong river
If you visit Kratie, it would be a great chance for you to explore the Mekong River. You can choose the Mekong Discovery Trail to explore the Mekong River. The Mekong Discovery Trail is a project that aims to organize different activities such as kayaking, biking, home stays, trekking, dolphin spotting and camping on the Mekong’s beach for tourists. The Mekong Discovery Trail offers many trip options along the 180 kilometers trail of the Mekong River, which runs between Kratie province and the Cambodian/Laos border. By using the trail, you can enjoy many unique travel experiences in Cambodia and get a chance to truly explore the Mekong River.
Kratie is a remote,sleepy province with a small population, thus there are no many visitors include Kratie in their trip plan when they want to visit Cambodia. When people think of Kratie, they mainly think about dolphin spotting as Kratie’s only attraction. However, Kratie has so much more to offer just as mentioned above. In addition, visiting Kratie you can truly understand the life of people in rural areas in Cambodia. The province might be undeveloped, but people are so friendly and helpful, which is a thing that you might not experience in a bustling modern city. Once in a while, you should have a little escape to remote areas like Kratie to forget about all the pressures that life has been putting on you and relax.
Tips when visiting Kratie:
- It is better to dress appropriately in Kratie to avoid being stared at, as Kratie is rural and tends to be more traditional.
- Bring some snacks with you, because it might be hard for you to buy snacks when you are out of Kratie town.
- Communicate with the locals. People in Cambodia are so friendly, they often assist tourists. They might even offer you a dinner, who knows?
- You need to try Kratie’s sweet grape-fruits and naem, these two are Kratie’s signature.