Good day out and about
Waterfalls are dotted about Ratanakiri province. Here are three of the more accessible ones, all best visited by motodop from Banlung.
These roads are all doable in dry season, and great fun if you’re a biking fan. In rainy season though, they become treacherous and the slick mud is almost guaranteed to whip your bike out from underneath you. If you’re going to do it, go with extreme caution. Or get a guide. A day trip for the three sites near town, plus one or two other locations, such as Yak Lom Lake, should cost between $15 and $20.
Cha Ong Waterfall
Head two kilometres west of the airstrip on National Road 78 until you reach a four-way intersection. Turn right and follow the road straight until you hit a rubber plantation, then take the left fork, continuing for another two kilometres.
Here you will find Cha Ong Waterfall, the largest of the three waterfalls within close distance to Banlung town and purportedly the tallest in the province — when there is water. It’s 30 metres high and surging in the rainy season, but it was dry on our mid-2016 visit, when a crippling drought had hit Cambodia. Even dry, we liked the location and the views.
Aside from the peaceful setting, the great thing here is you can climb behind the canopy of falling water in the carved-out cave behind the falls — check out the graffiti. Entrance is 2,000 riel.
If you turn left at the same intersection where you turned right for Cha Ong, and follow the signs for around six kilometres you’ll reach Katieng Waterfall. You’ll be taking a right turn just after a village.
This is a lovely shaded spot with a wooden stairway down to the bottom of the waterfall, or you could take the suspension bridge, which is very slippery during the rainy season. There are stalls here selling snacks and drinks, as well as souvenirs, so you could make a picnic of it too. Entrance is 3,000 riel.
Ka Chhang Waterfall
Follow the instructions for Katieng waterfall but instead of following the river to the right, go left for about four kilometres to reach Kah Chhang. This was one of our favourites, in a beautiful shaded setting, with a wooden stairway that leads down to the bottom of the waterfall.
A stall sells drinks and souvenirs, while nearer the road a small outlet offers indigenous wooden statues. The trail to Kah Chhang is very clay-like and is horrendously slippery after rain — take particular care — this is not for novice riders. Entrance is 2,000 riel.
Nicky Sullivan is an Irish freelance writer (and aspiring photographer). She has lived in England, Ireland, France, Spain and India, but decided that her tribe and heart are in Cambodia, where she has lived since 2007 despite repeated attempts to leave. She dreams of being as tough as Dervla Murphy, but fears there may be a long way to go. She can’t stand whisky for starters. She was a researcher, writer and coordinator for The Angkor Guidebook: Your Essential Companion to the Temples, now one of the best-selling guidebooks to the temples.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.