Kratie - Travel guide

1. Introduction
Located in the East of Cambodia, on the banks of Mekong River, Kratie is a charming and delightful city to pass a couple of days. Kratie is considered a gateway to the North or South of Cambodia and it has a good location because it's bordered by Stung Treng to the north, Mondulkiri to the east. You can get to Kratie from Siem Reap or Phnom Penh: 250km from Phnom Penh (about 5hrs driving toward the North-East) or 330km from Siam Reap (about 6hrs driving toward the South-East).
With 140km length of Mekong River flowing through Kratie, this land is well-known for being the house of Irrawaddy dolphins, fish, and bird sanctuary. Beside the Mekong River flows through, the province is mostly covered in dense forest and some land in Kratié is used for agriculture, especially for rubber plantation, make the province an attractive destination with its green villages and paddies.
2. Weather – Best time to visit
Kratie province has a monsoonal climate: coolest months from November to March, hottest months between March to May, and rainy season from May to October. Every year, heavy rains and monsoon which occurred from July to September can make landslides and floods.
So the best time to visit Kratie is between October and January. At that time, the weather is cool and the humidity is less, you can experience many activities.

Cruise in Kratie

3. What to see and do in Kratie
Located on the east bank of the mighty Mekong River, Kratie is such a quiet and scenic city with sandbars and islands in the river. Although passed many years in wars, luckily that Kratie was not devastated unlike many other towns in Cambodia. Once arrived in this city, you can see pretty homes of French colonial architecture and Khmer style scattered about, which makes an important part of its charm. With the natural and historical condition, Kratie is one of the destinations worths your visit.
3.1.  The Mekong Irrawaddy dolphin
Classed on the critically endangered list of species, the Mekong Irrawaddy dolphin is a vanishing sub-species of dolphin. Once arrived in Kratie, you can see them at their natural nid, on the Mekong River.
* Following the WWF, The Irrawaddy dolphin symbolizes the magnificence of the Mekong River and its continued high biodiversity. The latest population survey showed that only 92 Irrawaddy Dolphins inhabit the Mekong River.
The Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) inhabits a 190km stretch of the mainstream Mekong River between Kratie, Cambodia and Khone Falls on the border with Lao PDR.
3.2.  Koh Trong 
Being an island in the Mekong River, located close to Kratie, it is very easy to access Koh Trong by a local ferry, which operates everyday, from early morning till about 6.30PM. You can choose to explore Koh Trong within a day, or spend one night on this quiet island.
Thanks to the alluvial of the Mekong River from years to years, the lush soil here, make various local fruits growing. The island, being famous and a must-see destination once you are in Kratie, for its authentic Cambodian rural life.
You should prepare a whole day for this visit, arrival in Koh Trong from early morning, spend time to exploring green paddy fields by bicycle, motorbikes or horse cart or a cow cart too, passing by orchards, seeing on route traditional wooden Khmer houses and friendly locals at their work: farming and fishing... The end of day is the best time to see the sunset on the river. Such at an extraordinary and beautiful scene!
You can also visit an ancient pagoda located on the island. During dry season, when the water levels are low and slow flow of water, you can go swimming in the river and if having chance, you may see wild turtles. 
And, don't forget to get the last ferry back to town at 6.30PM, unless you already planned to stay one night on island.
3.3. Phnom Sombok
Known as one of the most attractive destinations in Kratie, Phnom Sombok is a small Buddhist hill temple which is located between two mountain peaks offering scenic views of the Mekong River.
You will find the entrance of the pagoda after about 300 steps climbing up. The highlights of Phnom Sombok are colorful, life-sized statues of sitting Buddha lined up on the way up and a reclining Buddha at the top of the hill. Like many other Buddhist pagodas in Cambodia, to advise people to have better behavior, there is a pavilion in Phnom Sombok which depicts the scenes from hell including the torture to be endured by people in the afterlife if missing the rectitude, …
The best time to visit Phnom Sombok is the early morning or late evening. At that time, you can enjoy the best views of the sunrise and sunset to the Mekong River.
It’s easy to get Phnom Sombok from the city center, about 15-20 minute driving. Because of being situated on the way to Kampi, this destination is often combined with a well-known place for dolphin watching.

Mekong Dolphin

3.4. The 100-Column Pagoda
Does the 100-Column Pagoda has 100 columns? Let’s discover this pagoda and check.
Situated at about 60km to the North of Kratie, the 100 Column Pagoda is located right next to the Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre (MTCC), in Sam Bor District. According to the legend, this pagoda was built on the base of the old Royal Palace Temple in 19th century. It was constructed in honor of a Khmer princess, the daughter of Preah Ang Chan Reachea II King, who died because she was swallowed by the crocodile Nen Thun.
The unique and special architecture, with four Buddhist temples that look into 4 different directions, and the system of columns surrounding the pagoda, make it a precious and invaluable pagoda and worth your visit. Vihear Lao faces to the West, Vihear Sar Sar-100 faces to the North, Vihear Kork Keut faces to the East and Vihear Kork faces to the South.
Over the years, the 100 Column Pagoda was renovated several times, now it has 116 columns all in all, instead of 100. This is one of the never-miss destinations when you have a trip to Kratie.
3.5. Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre
Besides Irrawady Dolphin, Kratie is also well-known with Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre (MTCC). This is the conservation of the endangered Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle. It’s located near the city so it’s popular in tours from Kratie town. Coming here, one of the favorite activities of visitors is joining the Turtle conservation tours to see and learn the way of hatchlings grow.
Because of locating very closed to the 100-column pagoda, you can combine the visit of MTCC with a pilgrimage to the pagoda.
* Following WWF: Cantor’s giant softshell turtle is easily recognized by its broad head with eyes close to the tip of the snout giving it a frog-like appearance (hence the Khmer-name “Frog Head Turtle”). Cambodia is believed to hold a number of significant populations of this species in river swamps, estuaries, and mudflats in lowland areas. A recent WWF-led survey even confirmed breeding giant softshell turtles along the Mekong mainstream.
3.6. Nightlife activities
Kratie city is well-known with its quietness and peace. People often enjoy the atmosphere in the riverfront restaurants until 11pm or so, then back home for a good night, then Kratie is not known for nightlife.
However, there are some good places for you, to have a cool drink, watch the sunset, and more. Check them out:
- Bamboo Rooftop Bar
- Sunset Bar & Inn
- Red Sun Falling
- Happy Night
- Balcony Bar Restaurant Guesthouse
- So Cool Club

Floating village

4. Specialities of Kratie
Surely that there is decent food in Kratie for your stomach. Most of the guesthouses and hotels have their own restaurant to serve visitors. The most popular and famous one is Heng Heng restaurant, a typical Cambodian restaurant, offers plenty of traditional Cambodian and some Western standard food, at affordable prices.
Apart from guesthouse restaurants, if you love to experience an authentic taste, there are many food stalls set up along the riverfront, selling grilled chicken, soup, and other Khmer staples for your choice. And certainly, there are many good restaurants which serve western and international dishes. Some good name is:
- Le Tonle Restaurant and Guesthouse: Serves Asian & Cambodian/ Khmer foods
- Mlub Putrea: Café, international drinks
- Tokae Restaurant: Serves Asian & Cambodian/ Khmer foods
- "The German" Deutsches Restaurant: German, continental foods
5. Trip from/ to Kratie
As a quiet and small of rural Cambodia, Kratie offers nature, eco-tourism and wildlife for visitors. In addition, if you wish to go to authentic markets, small towns, less touristy, Kratie deserves a place on your itinerary (best in a loup with Phnom Penh - Kampong Cham - Kampong Thom). If you have time, you can spend 3 days to fully discover this city and surroundings with the example itinerary as below:
Day 1: Kratie arrival (from Phnom Penh) – 1st visit or stay at leisure, depending on your arrival time.
Day 2: Kratie – Full day visit, must include Irrawaddy Dolphin, Koh Trong, and other places. 
Day 3: Kratie – Kampong Thom, toward the North. 
6. Travelling to Kratie
There are many ways for you to travel to Kratie. If you are in Cambodia, you can refer to the domestic route because Kratie is a stop on the loup, from South to North or vice versa. Normally stops in this itinerary should be Phnom Penh/ Kratie/ Kampong Thom/ Preah Vihear/ Battambang/ Siem Reap. The distance between Phnom Penh and Kratie is about 250km (5-6 hours driving), Stung Treng and Kratie is 155km (approx. 3 hours driving). So you can choose the vehicle to suit your trip to explore this beautiful land.
Besides, Kratie is only 3-hour driving from the Cambodia-Laos border. If you wish to travel overland between the two countries, it is an ideal stop for night and visits.

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