Ratanakiri in Cambodia stands out as an ideal destination for the adventurous explorers who are keen on the remote and untamed beauty. If Cambodia is your next chosen destination for an Indochina journey, then consider a valuable spot in the far northeast named Ratanakiri.
Ratanakiri Province (meaning “Mountain of Jewels”) is located in the remote northeast of Cambodia. It is encompassed by Mondulkiri Province to the south, Stung Treng Province to the west, the country of Laos to the north, and Vietnam to the east. Geographically, the extension of this destination lasts from Annamite mountain ranges in the north, across the hilly plateau (between Tonle San and Tonle Srepok Rivers), to the dense tropical forest in the south. Travel to Ratanakiri, people will be first impressed by the absolute tranquility, the diverse ethnic culture, and the wild nature. Though being beautiful, Ratanakiri is sparsely inhabited. The residents typically live in the villages of 20 to 60 families who live by farming. Untamed and original, this province is amongst the least developed sites in Cambodia, but none can deny its highlights of the magnificent nature. As its name has stated, Ratanakiri is “a place of gems” which can refer to the marvelous mountains, crystal clear lake, spellbinding waterfall, and lush jungle.
What to see in Ratanakiri
Beung Yeak Loam Lake
For sorting out those of the best lakes in Ratanakiri, then consider the name of BeungYeak Loam Lake! The formation of this lake was resulted from the volcanic eruption nearly 4000 years ago. The lake itself is very charming and picturesque in the middle of a mountain. It’s ideal for sightseeing,trekking through the forest, having a picnic, swimming, or simple taking a gentle walk. Many nature lovers love spending time relaxing in this lake and cherish the primitive charm here. There are corners along the riverbank for you to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna. Nearby the lake is the hill tribe village for you to learn a new ethnic culture.
Eisey Patamak Mountain
If you’re looking for a high spot to spread the eyes over Laos and Vietnam from there, then get to know Eisey Patamak Mountain! From the top of the mountain, it’s fantastic for the panoramic view of the neighboring countries, and some beautiful landscapes of Cambodia. In particular, you will surely love the captivating view of Ban Loung Town. The bewitching sceneries encourage you to get refreshed and calm. What’s more, the must-see highlight of this mountain is the Reclining Buddha statue erected in 1994. The ancient Lord Buddha statue has withstood the test of time and remained revered for the worldwide pilgrims coming to do homage.
Chang Ong Waterfall
Located in the forest of Cha Ong Village, this waterfall receives its fascinating water from Phnom Eisey Patamak. The water here is transparent and inspiring. While the upper level offers the magnificent water flowing over the edge of steep, high cliffs and fall into the eye-catching pool. The bottom of the waterfall is suitable for relaxing and sightseeing. Besides, you can enjoy sitting inside a cave and let soul fly freely. It’s a paradise of freedom!
Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary
With an entire area of 250,000 ha, Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary is home to various exceptional kinds of animals and birds. In fact, this sanctuary is one of the most worthwhile attractions to see in the mysterious Cambodia. Provided that your interest is about ecotourism, you’d better not to miss this site. The rich wildlife associated with the distant tribal villages are the unique characteristics of Lumphat that only a few sites can compare. So, make it a point to include this place of interest to your itinerary in Ratanakiri! While some travelers love watching the flocks of birds bathing in a natural pond, the others cherish the moments in the ethnic villages to experience the ethnic dancing, music or traditional belief.
Norng Kabat Forest
Another fantastic ecotourism in Ratanakiri is Norng Kabat Forest, which attracts around 10,000 visitors a year. The forest is the splendidand valuable home to various kinds of birds and animals who produce the songs of the jungles to enchant everybody. Also, the forest offers the natural pond for the animals to bath and play. Just a walk in the forest teaches you much about the wildlife, especially the birds. Bird watching is the fantastic activity here. Furthermore, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the nearby ethnic villages to step into a new cultural world that you desire to do. Contrary to the prevailing thought, Norng Kabat Forest experiences an influx of the foreign tourists who come because of the wildlife as well as the ethnic villages.
How to Get to Ratanakiri Cambodia
Take a flight to Ratanakiri
This province used to be served by Ratanakiri Airport. However, due to the accident at the airport in November 2005, the regular commercial flights to Rattanakiri were ceased. Since the time of the accident, there are no available commercial flights to Ban Lung town in Ratanakiri. Know that only the chartered and private flights use this airport now!
Take the bus to Ratanakiri
The good advice for you is to take the share taxi to Ban Lung town if possible. For instance, if you start from Tung Streng, then expect for the 5-hour trip to reach the destination. But it might be 7 hours during the rainy months. Because the roads are quite zigzagging, it requires the slow and careful drive. In most cases, the travelers should always bring food, water, and mosquito repellent in their luggage to face with the postponed trip because of the bad weather. Besides taxi, some good drivers might want to self-drive to the destination with a map on hand. Provided that you drive from Stung Treng, then it’s a must to take the national highway No. 7 and head north. You’d better get prepared with an offline map.
Ratanakiri is not a popular destination for tourist. So if you look for package tour to Ratanakiri or just Ratanakiri Cambodia trek, you must contact local travel agency to custom Cambodia tour !
When to visit Ratanakiri
The “Mountains of Jewels” remains untamed and beautiful throughout the year, but the travelers should keep in mind the three time periods if they ask for the best time to visit Ratanakiri in Cambodia.
- June – October: This period gives Ratanakiri some rain and cloud during the daytime. The average temperature is higher than 25 Celsius degrees. It’s sure to conclude that this rainy season is not ideal for the outdoor discovery of mountain, waterfall, lake, or forest. Therefore, if you arrive at this season, remember to bring the umbrella if you go out!
- November – February: This is the cool time in Ratanakiri when the temperature decreases lower than 20 Celsius degrees. It turns freezing in the evening. Therefore, if your schedule falls into this period, make sure you find the good accommodation to lay the heads and offer the thick blankets. The best thing about the cool season is that it makes this province incredibly serene and tranquil.
- March – May: With the average temperature of 20-30 Celsius degree, this period features the hot and dry condition. It is the best time to see Ratanakiri as you find it trouble-free to experience the ecotourism in the sites of the waterfall, lake, mountain, or wildlife sanctuary. The dry season encourages the travelers to explore each interesting corner of the province without any hesitation. So, take your time in Ratanakiri and see what is best about this remote, gorgeous destination!