Sep 16 2012
Kratie is the capital of the same-named province in northeast Cambodia, some six to seven hours north of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh by bus. Known for a couple of pods 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.
The Balcony 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, towards the southern end of town, is the Silver Dolphin, where we found the staff to be especially friendly. Off the river, opposite 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 the cheapest place we looked at in town and it’s most definitely a place where you get what you pay for. Their restaurant though is good and a popular spot for traveller fare.
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 uniformally via organised groups, noting that guests don’t walk here from the bus station.
For something a bit different, consider staying across the river on Koh Trong. The island is home to two homestays (the northernmost one is the better) along with 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.
Travelfish.org always pays its way. No exceptions.