Kratie is a small town on the banks of the Mekong River with clean lush villages surrounded by palm, banana and mango trees. Known for its charming colonial architecture, Kratie is said to have some of the best sunsets in Cambodia. Kratie’s main claim to fame, however, are the critically-endangered Irawaddy dolphins that you’re likely to catch a glimpse of here. Kratie is also an excellent base for exploring the Mekong River and surrounding areas, and a popular stopping-off point for journeys from northern Cambodia to southern Laos.
The star attraction of Kratie is undoubtedly the population of Irawaddy dolphins living here. The best spot for seeing them is around the village of Kampi, about 15 kilometres north of Kratie. Here, about 60-85 dolphins continue to swim freely in the wild.
Roughly 10 kilometres north of Kratie is the hilltop temple of Phnom Sombok, which features fascinating but macabre depictions of what happens when one doesn’t lead a holy life, and probably a few monkeys as well. There’s also a fascinating pre-Angkorian settlement and temple (Wat Sorsor Muoy Roi) at Sambor, about 40 kilometres from Kratie.
Within about 15 kilometres south of Kratie are three basket weaving villages. The largest of these is Chheu Teal Ploch, inhabited by about 4,000 ethnic Cham people. This unique ethnic group is descendant of the Kingdom of Champa, which stretched across parts of Cambodia and Vietnam in around the same period as the Angkor Kingdom.
In addition to having excellent kayaking possibilities, Kratie is also the beginning of the Mekong Discovery Trail. For those adventurous and ambitious enough to follow it, the trail snakes through some 180 kilometres of lush natural scenery surrounding the Mekong River as it makes its way to the Laos border.
How to get there:
By Bus: Most buses to Kratie arrive from Stung Treng. Accessed from Phnom Penh, it takes about three hours. There are also direct buses from Siem Reap.