Northeast Cambodia in photos
First published 28th May, 2012
Through the middle of May I took off for a two-week trip through northeast Cambodia. I commenced in the capital, Phnom Penh then headed north through Kratie, Stung Treng and finally Banlung, before turning around and retracing my steps. It was a great trip as it had been quite some time since I'd been in this part of the country but it was also deeply saddening seeing the environmental devastation continuing to be wrought on the country. I snapped a bunch of pics on my iPhone, using the Instagram app, and here are some of my favourites. Enjoy.
First stop: pho
When we lived in Phnom Penh, this was my regular noodle joint. It's probably not the most authentic pho joint in town, in fact, I'm sure it's not, but the food is good and you're spitting distance to the river. You'll find it on Street 178 opposite The Rising Sun.
First stop: pho.
Wet season in Cambodia
May marks the onset of Cambodia's wet season, and as you can see by the approaching wall of water beyond the FCC, it doesn't muck around. I tried to outrun it to another restaurant but failed miserably.
Now where did I put that umbrella?
Start with a splurge
I decided to treat myself at a fancier hotel for the first couple of nights in Phnom Penh and was delighted with The Plantation. At US$55 a night it was excellent value.
Will do at a pinch ;-)
Flowers so pretty
Like an intergalactic spaceship (and let's face it, if aliens were to arrive, they'd settle in Phnom Penh) Phsar Thmei has long been one of my favourite attractions in the city. While the innards are fascinating, the outside footpath perimeter is also awash with snack spots, dried fish and flower stalls.
Hey pretty pretty...
While residents often turn their nose up at riverside -- "oh it's full of idiot tourists" -- there is a reason the tourists like it: it's darn pretty.
Brown and distant blue.
Stomach torpedoes away!
As in Vietnam, stuffed long white rolls are a great takeaway for bus trips (like the one I was about to commence to Kratie). Smeared with pate and filled with cucumber, carrot and other random tasties, they can be delicious. These are best ordered in the morning though, as a slab of pate broiling away in the all-day sun can deliver an explosive charge to the tummy.
Launch stomach torpedoes now!
Now I won't go as far as to say Balcony is the best backpacker joint in town, but for $5, it isn't too bad and the sunset views are fabulous. The Khmer food is also solid -- a shame more backpacker guesthouses don't put the effort into the food that Balcony does. But man oh man do they need to sort out the water pressure in the upstairs shower!
A balcony with a view.
Bikes ride free
The next day I grabbed a boat across the Mekong River to Ko Trong -- a long thin island home to a few places to stay and an allround pleasant kind of place to hang out. The boat costs 1,000 riel, but bikes ride free -- or you can do as I did and hire a bicycle on Ko Trong for $1 for the day.
Have bike, can pedal.
Cycling Ko Trong
Ko Trong is a very pretty island -- the inner-island is given over to rice cultivation with the occasional burst of sugar palms reaching up into the sky. You can ride the whole island in a few hours at a comfortable pace, but there are plenty of diversions -- on the southwest coast for example there is a small Vietnamese floating village and towards the northern tip a temple and aged chedi, but the real pleasure is just cycling around. Pack sunscreen and a hat.
It was hotter than it looks.
Hilltop cult place
The next day I grabbed a motorbike and headed north towards Stung Treng. Just before Kampi (where the dolphins are) a hilltop temple at Phnom Sambok offers great views of the surrounds. Near the summit you'll also find some great paintings of Buddhist hell that alone make the climb worth it.
Take me to your cult place.
Where are the trees?
Further north, the extent of deforestation is breathtaking. In some places as far as I could see was denuded rolling hills. Clearing native forest for cash crops like cassava and rubber obviously make someone a lot of money, but rest assured the locals who are getting kicked off their land, sometimes shot dead in the process, are not among the winners. Invariably one of two majestic trees would be left standing -- consider them a monument to the abject stupidity of the Khmer ruling cliche. Really, the people running Cambodia are a bunch of cretins.
A Cambodian shoulder
Once over the provincial border into Stung Treng, for dozens of kilometres the road's shoulder is covered in drying out cassava -- often to a backdrop of still burning fires. Environmental bastardry.
Laying stupidity out to dry.
A few hours later I rolled into Stung Treng -- just in time for a couple of swift Beerlaos (it was really hot!) and then I rode out along the San river to watch the sunset. Stung Treng really delivers the goods when it comes to sunsets. The town itself is nearly devoid of tourists -- with most opting for through buses from Laos to Kratie or Phnom Penh -- dodging Stung Treng due to its very well-earned reputation for ripping off tourists a few years ago when the border crossing situation was less clear. Few people I talked to have much sympathy for Stung Treng, which is a shame as there is plenty to do.
Just another sunset.
Call me Indiana
Before sunset I met a British and a Russian scientist who were planning on taking a boat trip to some near islands to take dirt samples and they were kind enough to have me along (long story -- they'll be a feature on Travelfish soon about this little adventure). Once we bush-bashed through the jungle towards the centre we stumbled upon some remnant evergreen forest -- grand, towering trees, thriving in life -- surrounded by cashcrop cultivation. More idiocy. The island has tremendous potential, reminding me of Don Khon in Laos, but it is largely undeveloped save a couple of small hamlets. When I asked our fixer why there is no development like on Don Khon in Laos he replied: "Stung Treng doesn't allow people to smoke pot." Note: Travelfish.org T-shirts are not built to Indiana Jones' standards -- mine was a shredded mess by the time I returned to Stung Treng.
Once a magical place.
I'm on a boat
Gratuitous "I'm on a boat in the middle of the Mekong River" photo.
I'd rather be sailing.
Now that's a market
It's rare that there's a high enough point to really take in a Cambodian market, but in Stung Treng I got a great view over the central market from a nearby guesthouse.
Now that's a hammock
Next stop after Stung Treng was Banlung in Cambodia's far northeast. I set up camp at the lovely Treetops Guesthouse, where the individual wooden bungalows feel like they truly are elevated in the trees. I'd highly recommend it, though was more than a little annoyed when a bag disappeared from my room -- management insisted it was a dog that took it. Still, the views and nature vibe of the place, was excellent.
How much was a month-long stay again?
The crater lake at Banlung is a great spot to put the feet up (or put them down -- in the water) and relax for a few hours. A very attractive spot, in the late afternoon, as mist (or steam?) gathers on the waters as the sun sinks towards the crater rim, it's a very evocative spot. A highlight of Banlung, especially once the crowds drop off.
Looking for the Banlung Monster...
Banlung has three main waterfalls and Chaa Ong waterfall is the best. When I arrived there was just one other person, asleep on a platform at the base. It's a magical spot as you can walk behind the falls and look out into the surrounding jungle. Highly recommended.
I'll close with three thoughts: people are not kidding when they call it wet season, that Humvee is most definitely going in the right direction, and yes, I got soaked to the absolute skin.
Why people catch buses.
Related readingIs Preah Vihear safe to visit?
The Death Highway
Kompong Cham escape
Crossing the Cambodia Laos border
Read 3 comment(s)
Add your comment
Feature story quicklinks
- Giving back in Southeast Asia (4)
- Burma (3)
- Cambodia (19)
- All stories
- A Cambodian Eco-lodge
- Angkorian traffic woes
- Battambang weekend
- Elephant riding in Cambodia: Should you?
- Great places to stay in Siem Reap
- Is Preah Vihear safe to visit?
- Koh Rong: Trouble in paradise?
- Kompong Cham escape
- Northeast Cambodia in photos
- Oh Poipet!
- PEPY:Sustainable Cambodian tourism
- Phnom Tamao Wildlife Refuge
- Sihanoukville beaches lure expats
- Spas, shopping & seers in Siem Reap
- The best islands in Cambodia
- The best places to stay on Cambodia's islands
- The Death Highway
- Trekking the Cardamoms in Cambodia
- Why you should go to Cambodia
- Indonesia (13)
- All stories
- A funeral in Toraja, Sulawesi
- Climbing Rinjani
- How to hire a boat in Indonesia: Without drowning
- Learn to surf in Bali
- Medewi: A great Bali getaway
- Mountain biking in Bali: A ride in the woods
- The Gili islands: Which is the right one for you?
- Ubud bird watching: From waterhens to witchcraft
- Ubud shopping guide
- Village trekking in Tana Toraja
- Weekend in Nusa Penida
- Yogya's student scene
- Laos (14)
- All stories
- Best budget rooms in Luang Prabang 2013
- Elephant trekking in Laos
- Exploring Laos' Bolaven Plateau
- Huay Xai to Pak Tha by slowboat
- Is Lao Airlines safe to fly?
- Laos' vanishing elephants
- Luang Prabang escape
- Muang Ngoi Escape
- Photos of Luang Prabang, Laos
- Pi Mai Lao in Luang Prabang: In 1999
- Southern Laos by scooter
- The Gibbon Experience
- The Phonsavan adventure
- Vientiane's Chinatown
- Malaysia (6)
- Singapore (9)
- Thailand (59)
- All stories
- 10 Bangkok galleries worth a look-see
- 10 Thai treks aside from Chiang Mai
- 24 Hours in Bangkok: Sukhumvit to Siam Square
- 5 Southern Thai towns to lose time in
- A Thai homestay in Ayutthaya
- A weekend on Ko Samet, Thailand
- Andaman Sea island hopper
- Ayutthaya temple tour
- Bangkok for art lovers
- Bangkok's Charoen Krung Road
- Bangkok's Thonburi: exploring the west side
- Brilliant Bangkok
- Chiang Dao getaway
- Corruption in Thailand
- Eating on the edge
- Exploring Lamphun
- Exploring the Lungs of Bangkok
- Far southern Thailand: Go or not?
- Highlights of Chanthaburi province
- How to do Khao Yai National Park
- Khao San Road safety and scams
- Ko Mun Nork: a nearby paradise
- Ko Pha Ngan 7-day detox:Colonic fast
- Ko Pha Ngan's best beaches in 2013
- Ko Phi Phi on a budget
- Ko Tao for non-divers guide
- Ko Yao: the islands you're looking for
- Motorcycling the Chiang Rai loop
- Narathiwat: residence of good people
- Navigating Bangkok: The BTS Skytrain
- Phuket by night
- Phuket for Kids
- Phuket heritage walk: Car parts to saris
- Phuket's secret beaches
- Planning around Thailand's civil unrest
- Roll your own Kanchanaburi
- Should I book for the full moon party?
- Should I cancel my Thai holiday? No.
- Soi Thong Lo, Bangkok
- Sorting out Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Staying at a Thai monastery
- Thai islands for nature lovers
- Thai islands to lose yourself on
- Thai visa FAQ
- Thailand tsunami wrap
- Thailand's Mae Khlong market
- Thailand: Where to from here?
- The best beach on Ko Samui
- The bridge over the River Kwai festival
- Travelling through north-east Thailand
- Trekking in Thailand
- Trisara -- decadent luxury at its best
- What is the best beach on Ko Tao?
- What is the best island in Thailand?
- What's a good beach on Ko Pha Ngan?
- What's a good beach on Ko Samui?
- Where to stay in Sukhothai?
- Which beach on Ko Samui?
- Which island in Trang?
- Vietnam (29)
- All stories
- A short break in Nha Trang
- A Weekend in Can Tho
- Being fed Fido: Eating dog in Vietnam
- Buying a touring motorbike in Vietnam
- Con Dao escape
- Do nothing and see the best of Hanoi
- Doing the DMZ from Hue
- Exploring Kon Tum
- Exploring Vietnam's Mekong Delta
- Ha Long Bay conclusions
- Ha Long Bay for backpackers
- Ha Long Bay for budget-busters
- Ha Long Bay for flashpackers
- Hanoi escape
- Hanoi or Saigon?
- Hoi An -- Walking over the dragon
- How to do the Dien Bien Phu loop
- How to enjoy your time in Vietnam
- How to pick a good Ha Long Bay cruise
- Is the Hoi An culture tour worth it?
- Motorbike Vietnam's Central Highlands
- One day in Hanoi
- Responsible shopping and eating in Hoi An
- Saigon's top 10 cafés
- Street food safety
- The DMZ: Traveller tactical briefing
- Travel tips for Tet in Vietnam 2013
- Two Wheels & Ricefields: A review
- Which is the best street food tour in Hanoi?
- Accommodation guides (18)
- All stories
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Chiang Mai
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Hanoi
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Phnom Penh
- 2006 Top guesthouses on Ko Phi Phi
- 2006 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top Bangkok airport guesthouses
- 2008 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top spots on Phu Quoc Island
- 2009 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2009 Top Phnom Penh guesthouses
- 2011 Best places to stay in Kuala Lumpur
- 2011 Best places to stay on Ko Phi Phi
- Best places to stay in Hanoi 2012
- Cheap Phuket guesthouses & hotels
- Five special hotels in Cambodia
- Ko Lipe's best budget guesthouses 2012
- The changing face of Khao San Road
- Travel with kids (7)
- Opinion & advice (14)
- All stories
- 10 reasons to do an adventure tour
- 10 reasons to travel independently
- A year's worth of travel for 2013
- Beach hideaways in Asia
- Do I need reservations for my holiday?
- Evil man of Krabi
- Fifteen tips for a great holiday in Asia
- Getting a cheap airfare to Asia
- Hotels should never charge extra for WiFi
- Long distance buses in Southeast Asia
- Mass tourism in Southeast Asia
- Nine Asian upcountry hideaways
- Planning a Gap Year? Some advice.
- Ten Southeast Asian trips for 2008
- How do I? (11)
- All stories
- Bangkok to Ko Samui, Pha Ngan & Tao
- Bangkok to Siem Reap
- Catching a train in Thailand
- Catching a train in Vietnam
- Cheap flights with Discovery Airpass
- Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- Crossing the Cambodia Laos border
- Ko Chang to Phu Quoc Island
- Siem Reap to Ko Chang
- Stops between Bangkok & Chiang Mai
- Visa run from Thailand to Burma
- Cycling Asia (13)
- All stories
- 24 hours in Bangkok
- An Angkor cycling guide
- An introduction
- Battambang, bamboo trains & guides
- Confessions of a "cheating cyclist"
- Cycles of all sorts
- Ha Long Bay independently
- Ko Samet Vs Pattaya
- Muay Thai night
- Phonsavan and Luang Prabang
- The hills of Vietnam
- The road less travelled
- Tubing in Vang Vieng
- Health and safety (6)
- Money and finance (4)
- Diving guides (6)
- Photo essay (3)
- Guest blog (2)
- General (15)
- All stories
- 10 Christmas days in Asia we're yet to have
- 10 dumb things I've done while travelling
- 34 ways to travel greener
- Asian animal experiences
- Call me Mr Massage Magic
- Chefs Without Borders
- Flying is fun!
- Mr Golden
- On being a travel writer
- Teaching ESL in Asia
- The 211 country honeymoon
- The Boxing Day Tsunami: 5 years on.
- To Teach or Not to Teach
- Travel writing scholarship 2012
- Tuk to the Road Charity ride
- Book reviews (5)
- Interviews (8)
- Explore Bangkok by BTS (14)
- All stories
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ari
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chid Lom
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chong Nonsi
- Bangkok by skytrain: National Stadium
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phaya Thai
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phloen Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phrom Phong
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchadamri
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchathewi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sala Daeng
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sanam Pao
- Bangkok by skytrain: Saphan Taksin
- Bangkok by skytrain: Surasak
- Bangkok by skytrain: Thong Lor
Sign up for Travelfish Burp!
Our weekly wrap on Southeast Asian travel.
Click here to see a recent newsletter.