Kratie is the capital of the same-named province in northeast Cambodia, some six to seven hours by bus north of Phnom Penh. Known for its small population of dolphins to the north of town, it’s a low-key destination that is popular among travellers who either have the time or who are not intent on blowing straight through to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. While some Cambodian towns are a little lacking when it comes to hotels and guesthouses, that isn’t the case with Kratie, which offers a handful of solid places to choose from.
Top of the list has to be Le Tonle, owned and operated by Cambodia Rural Development Tours. This is a hospitality training school for disadvantaged kids, and it offers good value, if warm (though we were there in April) accommodation. The food is good too, served in a very attractive setting.
Grass remains the main backpacker pad in Kratie but what sells it is the balcony rather than the rooms. The rooms are very well-sized but the bathrooms and especially the water pressure leave something to be desired. Their food is great, so if you do stay elsewhere be sure to swing by to enjoy the balcony.
Another popular option, also on the riverside but towards the southern end of town, is the Silver Dolphin, which is basic but functional, and also offers tours. Off the river, beside the market, you’ll find the You Hong Guesthouse. Rooms at You Hong are small, but it has a good terrace overlooking the market and the staff are a good lot. They have a second branch closer to the river, but the original is the better of the two.
Star Guesthouse is also on the market, and is the cheapest place we looked at in town and it’s most definitely a place where you get what you pay for. They’re above Tokae Restaurant, a good spot for a meal. If you’d prefer something that is less of a guesthouse and more of a mini-hotel, the Heng Heng II (which sits right beside the Heng Heng Kratie Guesthouse) is excellent value, with smart rooms and good facilities.
Apart from the cookie-cutter mini-hotels on the river, Kratie doesn’t have much of a midrange scene, but if you want to pay top dollar, then the antique-filled Le Bungalow, which sits atop a French restaurant, is about as flash as it gets and is memorable — if pricey. The staff told us their custom is almost uniformly via organised groups, noting that guests don’t walk here from the bus station, which is a shame because they do have an excellent value $25 room for those who’d like a little luxury without the expense.
For something a bit different, consider staying across the river on Koh Trong. The island is home to two homestays, a basic guesthouse, a nicely put together guesthouse and the decidedly more fancy Rajabori Villas (previously Sala Koh Trong) which is owned by the same people as Le Bungalow.
While a couple of hotels, including some of the above, can be booked online with Agoda, in practice there is little need to book ahead as Kratie never gets all that busy — and that’s half the charm.
By Nicky Sullivan
Last updated on 26th April, 2016.