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Ratanakiri

Ratanakiri

Ratanakiri Overview
Ratanakiri is in the region of 635 km from the city of Phnom Penh at an altitude of about 200 to 400 m. It is bordered by Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east, Mondulkiri to the south, and Stung Treng to the west. This rural rugged province is a 70% ethnic minority, which are known as "Chunchiet". Ratanakiri was as recently as 2002 seriously off the beaten track but has since been "discovered" step by step. It is an ideal place for who loves less tourist destination in Cambodia tour package.
Ratanakiri History
Lomphat is a small town in the southern plains, which was once the former capital of Ratanakiri. There are a few other small towns like Ta Veng and Voen Sai. The province is getting more and more popular for thousands of tourist every year. Especially for those, who seek a close contact to originality, hidden roots of ethnic groups and abundant wildlife. Therefore the Ecotourism abounds, due to lush wildlife and remote tribal villages. Most of the inhabitants of Ratanakiri are indigenous minorities.
 
Ethnic Cambodians make up only 10-20% of the country's total population. Remnants of an ancient volcano exist near to Banlung in the form of a crystal-clear lake that was formed after the active volcano went dormant. There are also a few ancient lava fields that testify to the fact that the area was quite lively at one time. Beautiful waterfalls, clear rivers winding through stretches of jungle, and rolling hills that meet mountains near the Vietnamese and Lao border provide a full agenda for nature lovers. Non-structured, low-impact, custom trips to outlying villages and natural areas can be organized (strictly by yourself or with help from a guesthouse).
 
There is a few foreigners living in Banlung you'll definitely meet while walking in the streets you can ask for actual tour offers, prices etc (change spontaneously). You will soon realize that this area hasn't seen a lot of tourists in the past. If you will visit the hill tribe people in the further areas outside of Banlung, don't be surprised if they look appalled at you. They just haven't seen many, if any, foreigners.
 
Yeak Laom Volcano Lake: This beautiful place is not far from town and is great for a swim, picnic, or hike around the crater rim of the old volcano. Due to the lake's tremendous depth of 48 meters, its water is exceptionally clean and crystal clear. The lake is almost perfectly round and measures around 750 meters in diameter. It has a small informative local museum thrown in to boot. In 1995 the governor of Ratanakiri officially set aside a 5,000-hectare (12,350-acre) protected area, of which the lake is a part, and in 1996 got help from the International Development and Research Centre of Canada and the United Nations Development Program to develop an effective resource management program.
 
This area represents Cambodia's finest attempt at preserving a site. Full-time rangers work to ensure the area is protected. They receive regular training and have put up signs throughout the area reminding people not too littler, wash clothes or toilet in the lake. That's amazing for Cambodia. The main swimming and picnic area features a nice wood deck that's great to use for a jump into the crystal clean water. Nearby, park rangers erected a couple of examples of hill tribe construction in the form of non politically correct bride and groom homes, where the man gets the elevated home (his status in the relationship) and the woman has the one nearer to the ground.
 
A few hundred meters down is the Cultural and Environmental Centre, which has information about area history and displays of local hill tribe tools and handiwork. They also sell some of the handicrafts made by the hill tribes: musical instruments, beaded belts, shirts, and hats. From the centre you can take a nature trail around the entire crater rim. King Sihanouk had a chalet built on the shores of the lake and used it during the 1960s. It was destroyed in the 1970 war between the Lon Nol government and Khmer Rouge guerrillas.
 
You can still see the remnants of this and also-indifferent spots around the lake-trenches that held gun emplacements during the fighting. The original inhabitants of the area are the Khmer Leu hill tribe people, who have always recognized the lake as a sacred place, home to the spirits of the land, water, and forest. Here those spirits interact with humans and, according to the local legend of Yeak Laom Lake, fabulous, spiritual aquatic beings reside here.
 
The surrounding forests of the area are also said to be the home of spirits and therefore can't be cut. This helps to explain why the hill tribe people took so strongly to the idea of protecting the area.
Ratanakiri Transportation
Air Plane
Banlung has an airfield within the town, but all commercial airlines have stopped servicing Ratanakiri. The only flights were with Mission Aviation Fellowship, in an 8 seater, but these stopped at the end of 2009. Medivacs and charters are available from Helicopters Cambodia. Currently the Ban Lung runway is still a gravel strip, but there are plans to extend it and build a concrete runway, which would make it more likely to attract a new carrier and make cancellations in the wet season less frequent.
 
Buses
The road between Phnom Penh to Banlung - Rattanakiri is fully paved road and in good in year 2017.
 
It is possible to get buses to Banlung from/to:
 
Phnom Penh - Doing this in a single day is now reliable, with 3 'big' buses (Rithmony, Hy Long, GST; R39,000/$9.70) and numerous minivans (R72,000/$18) servicing the route regularly, departing from 6 - 7:30am. The minivans are faster but the free pickup and dropoff can add 2-3 hours to the 8 hour trip.
Laos- It is possible to buy a ticket to Four Thousand Islands in Laos from Banlung. These are not direct buses; you must take three buses, switching at Stung Treng and at the border, and then a boat to your final destination. Costs $14-18. Despite what you may be told at the Lao Embassy in Phnom Penh, Laos visas have been available on arrival at the border since about October 2009. The reverse trip - from Don Det to Banlung is NOT a full ticket and you will need to pay an additional $5 for a taxi to Banlung from an intersection just south of Stung Treng. You will be essentially dropped off in the middle of nowhere to fend for yourself. It's best to just buy a ticket from Don Det to Stung Treng (about 150,000 kip) and then arrange transport on your own to Banlung.
 
Share/Private Taxi
A more expensive option than bus, taking a private taxi from Phnom Penh to Banlung is possible, for about US$120. It's a 5-6 hour drive to the junction near Stung Treng, then 2 hours to Banlung, plus meal breaks. Some taxi drivers in Phnom Penh specialize in this trip. Your hotel/guesthouse will probably be able to help you out.
 
Boat
A popular way to travel to Banlung used to involve taking a ferry first to Stung Treng (or Kratie). As of June 2009 these ferries were not running.
Ratanakiri climate and best time to visit
Ratanakiri Province has a climate like the other areas in the country, there are 3 seasons : - Rainy season: June - October (<27c) - Cool season: November- February (>24c) - Hot season: March- May : Temperature: from 20c -32c Ratanakiri's average temperature throughout the year is definately lower than in the other areas of Cambodia (except Mondulkiri Province).
Things to do and see in Ratanakiri
Yeak Loam Lake
Yeak Loam Lake is situated 5 km. south - east of Banlung. The Yeak Loam lake (volcanic crater) is the most beautiful lake of Ratanakiri formed by a volcanic eruption almost 4,000 years ago with 50 m. deep, 800 m. diameter and a walking path around the lake of 2,500 m. Two hundred meters of the track is a quaint wooden building housing tribal handicraft, the Crafts Museum.
 
Eisey Patamak Mountain
At the top of Phnom Svay is the statue of a reclining Buddha, situated 2.5 km. Awesome and peaceful, it has lain undisturbed throughout the years. Cast your eye outwards to glimpse Laos in the north and Vietnam in the east, and enjoy the spellbinding serenity of the surrounding countryside.
 
Kachang Waterfall
Kachang Waterfall is situated 6km. north - west of Banlung. This Waterfall is located in the Kontung stream and flows into the Sre Pok River. The height of it is 12 m. and the water flows and falls throughout the year. A beautiful or magnificent landscape and huge amounts of fresh mist surround the waterfall. The visitors can take a bath and sit to look at the waterfall and other natural scenic beauties. or the visitors can also go around to view other natural sights on foot or take an elephants ride.
 
Katieng Waterfall
Katieng Waterfall is situated 7 km. north - west of Banlung. It is also located in the Koutung Stream, below the Kachang Waterfall, 3 km. The height of it is 10m. and the water flows and falls throughout the year. The visitors can see a beautiful natural landscape and take a break to take pictures of the birds and then continue to the waterfall.
 
Ou'Sean Lair Waterfall
Ou'Sean Lair Waterfall is situated 26 km, South of Banlung. This Waterfall has 4 floors and the height of each floor is 4 m. The water flows throughout the year. Around the Waterfall are beautiful natural landscapes and the visitors can go take a bath if they wish.
 
Ou'Sensranoh Waterfall
Ou'Sensranoh Waterfall is situated 9 km. south of Banlung. The height of it is 18m. and the water flows and falls all the time. The visitors can go there rest and enjoy the fresh air, or to se the forest and listen to the birds ' cries.
 
Cha Ung Waterfall
Cha Ung Waterfall is situated 8 km. west of Banlung and it flows throughout the year. The source of water creating this Waterfall flowed from Eisey Patamak Mountain ( Svay Mountain ) . Below this Waterfall is a big hole, visitors can stand or sit to watch the waterfall from behind, and inhale he cool fresh air stemming from it .
 
Veal Rum Plan (stone field )
Veal rum Plan (stone field ) is situated 14 km. North of Banlung. Stones cover the surface of this place and a dense around it. The visitors can go there and discover its beautiful attraction

Vrachay National Park
Virachay National Park is situated 45 km. north of Banlung. With a total land area of 332,500 ha. It has varieties of plants and trees in the forest and many different kinds of animals and birds.
Ratanakiri Travel Tips
A shopping spree starts at the Banlung market. Shopping bargains can be found on intricate stone, woodcarvings, gemstones and other varieties of goods. Many goods are brought in by tribes, like baskets, crossbows, gourds (water containers), bracelets, necklaces, clothes and pipes from the outskirts of the town, which make for an interesting and very colourful morning stroll.
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