As a provincial town of Ratanakiri, Banlung is a great tourist attraction site. With a lot of nature and activities to explore, Banlung is just as beautiful and fun as other popular tourism sites of Cambodia such as Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, and others. Located on the northeastern side of the country, this dusty little town lies about 636km from the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. Interestingly, it is home to 12 different ethnic minority groups, including Pnorng, Krerng, Tompuon, and so on.
You can get there by car, private taxi, and bus. Once you get there and would like to explore the town and other nearby tourist attractions sites, you might need to rent a motorbike, tuk-tuk, or car to get to those places. The roads might be very dusty, but it is a great way to start a new adventure and try new things. So here are the top 10 places recommended for visitors who want to explore the city of Banlung and all the beautiful nature around the area.
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Top 10 Places to Visit in Banlung | The capital of Ratanakiri
Yeak Laom Volcanic Lake
Located in the protected area of Yeak Laom Commune, Yeak Laom Volcanic Lake is a broad and deep volcanic crater lake. This calm and beautiful lake is about 700,000 years old. The depth is around 48 meters or 157 feet. Because of the depth and size, the lake has amazingly clear and clean water. Interestingly, Yeak Laom Volcanic Lake is almost a perfect circle in shape. In the surroundings, you can find ample green trees, rain forests, and several types of birds and parrots. For fun activities, you can also swim or have a family picnic as there are docks on the lake. For more adventures, you can go hiking in the forest. Hiking trails are available, so you do not have to worry about getting lost there.
You can also find a small cultural and environmental center by the lake. There are displays of objects and textiles which belong to the local tribal minorities in the area. You can purchase handmade souvenirs to support the minority tribes there. Next to the lake, you can also visit a small village of minority groups. There, you can experience the minority style of sewing the Cambodian scarf and their cotton growing. To access and explore all the beautiful scenery of the beautiful lake in Banlung and the cultures of tribal minorities, you only need to pay the entrance fee of $2/person. The lake is an essential ource of income for the minority groups there, especially the Tompuon minority. It is a great and peaceful place to escape from the crowd in the city.
- Location: Loam Village, Yeak Loam Commune, Banlung District/City, Ratanakiri Province.
Just 2km west of Banlung city, you can find Wat Rahtanharahm right at the bottom of Phnom Eysei Patamak or Phnom Svay. It is a temple that people and villagers often come to worship. There is also a huge statue of reclining Buddha at the top of this mountain, which was built in 1994. Not only will you find the statue there, but you can also be impressed with the fantastic view of the whole provincial town and the green forests. Although Cambodia is a warm country, the weather there at the mountain top can be very cool. So remember to bring your coat with you. Also, during a clear day, you can see Vietnam from the top of this mountain. It is an excellent site for tourists to experience the culture and religion of the area as well as to enjoy the spectacular view from the mountain top.
- Location: Phnom Svay Village, Sanghat Boeung Kan Seng, Banlung City, Ratanakiri Province.
Along the way to visit different waterfalls in Banlung, you will come across quite a few rubber plantations. During the French colonization, they use indeginous people to work for the construction and tapping of the rubber plantations. Many of them are still in use until these days, so you can also take your time to visit the farms and observe the technique of harvesting the rubber. You can stop at one of the plantations anytime on your way to visit other waterfalls in Banlung. It is very easy to spot.
One thing to note is that “Ratanakiri” means “Mountain of gem”. So this northeast province of Cambodia is famous for gem mining. Banlung is, of course, a significant area of gem mining. You can visit Bokeo mines which situate around 36 km from the town. Some of the gems end up in the local market while some are for export or sale in other parts of the country. Visitors can also buy gems from the mining area directly.
- Location: Bokeo District, Banlung City, Ratanakiri Province.
Virachey National Park
One important thing you should know about Virachey National Park is that it is a very protected area in Cambodia. Virachey National Park, along with other protected areas in Lao PDR and Vietnam, makes one of the most significant protected forests in Asia. It is full of forests, mountains, and valleys, not to mention different types of wildlife species. The park is approximately 50km away from the town. Generally, during the dry season (November-April), it takes you about 1h by car and 1.5h by motorcycle to get from Banlung to this beautiful and undisturbed Park. But for the rainy season (May-October), it might take between 4-5h due to difficult road conditions. Apart from the beautiful nature that you can explore, trekking here is a popular activity for those who love outdoor activities. There are park rangers and community guides who will be there to assist you with your activities.
- Location: Veun Sai Village, Veun Sai Commune, Veun Sai District, Banlung City, Ratanakiri Province.
Airavata Elephant Foundation
Located just a few kilometers south of Banlung city, there is a site called the Airavata Elephant Foundation. Visitors can experience the real nature of the green forest surrounding the organization by interacting with the elephants in their natural habitat. Moreover, you can walk into the Banlung forest with the elephants and listen to relevant history from the local guides. Aside from playing with the elephants, you can swim in the lake, bathe the elephants, or taking a mud spa. They will teach you elephant behavior patterns and characteristics and how to feed the elephants.
- Location: Street 422, Tes Anlong Village, Sanghat Boeung Kan Seng, Katieng Forest, Banlung City, Ratanakiri Province.
Cha Ong Waterfall
When you visit Banlung, what you should never miss is the Cha Ong Waterfall, which is about 8.7 km from the town. Traveling along the way, you will witness the beautiful landscapes and small wild animals running in the forest. Close to the waterfall, there is a mountain slope that leads to the bottom of the waterfall. That is where you can enjoy the scenery by sitting inside the cave. Behind the waterfall, you can observe the green forest and scenic rubber plantations of Banlung through a curtain of falling water. You can also sunbathe on the rock at the top, swim at the base, or have a lovely picnic there.
- Location: Cha Ong village, Cha Ong Commune, Ou Chum District, Banlung City, Ratanakiri Province.
Ka Chanh Waterfall
Situated about 7.5 km southeast of Banlung, Ka Chanh Waterfall is one of the most-visited places in the area. The waterfall provides a great view of lush vegetation and greenery forests. If you walk to the top of the waterfall, you will see many big trees branching cool outcast shadows suiting for a picnic. Moreover, there is a wooden suspension bridge that spans the river gorge, which allows tourists to capture an excellent view of the waterfall. Besides, you can also ride elephants in the jungle and explore the nature and minority tribes.
- Location: Ka Chanh Village, Ka Chanh Commune, Banlung District/City, Ratanakiri Province.
Ou’sean Lair Waterfall
Ou’sean Lair or 7 Steps Waterfall is one of the most attractive tourist places best suited for your holiday. You can find the breath-taking view of this waterfall just about 26 km down south from Banlung city center. The waterfall provides a natural landscape beautiful enough to take away your sadness for a while. If you climb a wooden staircase to the top of the waterfall, you will see a panoramic view of the area below. Hiding in the depths of the jungle, Ou’sean Lair Waterfall is a quiet place to enjoy the spectacular sight. You can also visit exotic villages and mines to look for various precious metals. The trip to Ou’sean Lair Waterfall will be a memorable experience for you.
- Location: Ka Laeng Village, Ka Laeng Commune, Lumphat District, Banlung City, Ratanakiri Province.
Ka Tieng Waterfall
Below Ka Chanh Waterall about 3 kilometers, Ka Tieng Waterfall is the quietest place in the jungle of Banlung city. Surrounded by lush forest, the water there is the best spot for swimming or relaxing beneath the giant bamboo groves. The luxurious vegetation of the waterfall creates an idyllic location making it the most beautiful holiday place in the area. Moreover, you can visit the tribe village near the waterfall as well as to see the real elephants raised in the forest. This relaxing waterfall will bring you the unforgettable experience of the wilderness of wild animals in Banlung.
- Location: Ka Tieng Village, La Bang Pir Commune, Lumphat District, Banlung City, Ratanakiri Province.
These wonderful sites will put you in awe for their spectacular view of nature. So if you are planning to take a break and are looking for a quiet and peaceful place with beautiful nature, Banlung, Cambodia should be on your list. It is a great place to explore and experience new cultures, especially the cultures and traditions of different ethnic minority groups of Cambodia. They all have their languages and customs . So these are the top 10 most recommended for both local and foreign visitors. Please also note that some of these places require some entrance fee between $1-$2, which is very reasonable. The money will go to support the ethnic community who look after these places. Thus, visiting these places is also a way to show support to the ethnic minority groups residing in Banlung.