Joanne Coughlan

22 July 2019

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Discover Northern Cambodia

Without a doubt, Cambodia is a poor country – probably the poorest of the region. Some of the rural areas face particular struggles, lacking in basic infrastructure. But regardless of the hardship much of the population endures every day, one thing is evident – the locals appear happy, more often than not with a smile on their face and always ready to exchange a wave with anyone who passes. This was evident on my trip from Phnom Penh, the capital city, to Kratie and through the northern rural parts of the country.

The trip by car takes about 5 hours on a decent sealed road. There are a few great stops along the way including Kampong Cham and its famous bamboo bridge of which you’ll want to take heaps of photos from every angle. There’s also Wat Nokor Bachey, a temple with a large reclining Buddha statue and a bustling local market. A few hours in, you’ll cross the Mekong River and continue along the rural countryside to Kratie. The road stays close to the Mekong most of the way so you’ll watch the locals going about their daily activities and using the river for washing, cleaning and drinking.

When you arrive in Kratie, there’s a small market, local shopping area and just a few small hotels that lining the river. The township offers a good few hours of entertainment and a Chinese meal by one of the local restaurants on the river is popular.

The main thing to see in Kratie is the rare Irrawaddy dolphins with the best time to visit being late in the afternoon when they are feeding. For a few dollars, a local boatman will take you out and it’s most probably you will see the dolphins. It’s quite a special moment when you first spot them given there are less than 100 left in this part of the river and they are an endangered species. Photographing them is difficult as they pop up for just a few seconds at a time. Take time to walk through the village on the way back to the township. The houses are beautifully made wooden structures and with the sun on them, they make for fantastic photos.

Most people know Cambodia for the Angkor Temples and these are truly spectacular but there is much more to see including the rural north. The best time to visit Cambodia depends on the heat, rainfall and the number of tourists. Cambodia is warm year-round with temperatures rarely dipping below 20C but most travelers visit in November to March

Blue Dot Travel offers tours to Cambodia and other Asian travel destinations for small groups.    Click here for details.

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