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Kratie - Away From The Crowds In Cambodia

by Huw Owen

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The temples of Angkor, the Killing Fields, Phnom Penh city...this is what most people think of when they think of visiting Cambodia. Rare wildlife, peaceful riverside vistas, mountain biking through rural villages… these are just some of the things you can experience if you venture just slightly off the beaten track. And Kratie, about 5 hours in the 'other' direction from Phnom Penh, offers all of this and more.

Kratie Woman in BoatTiny Kratie (say kra-chey) isn't much to look at on first glance. It has some pretty colonial buildings, charming in their decay, and a lively market where you can stock up on fresh fruit and coconut treats. But after a bit of time spent wandering the streets and strolling along the riverfront the peace and quiet will start to draw you in. Then you'll enjoy a cold beer whilst watching the sun go down over the mighty Mekong river, and if you're anything like us you'll be hooked.

The main attraction is not the town at all but the tiny village of Kampi just up the road. From here you can charter a boat to spot the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins that gather in the deep river pools during the dry season (November-March). Related to the killer whale but looking more like a beluga, these shy creatures are found in small pockets throughout Asia.

The Kratie dolphins are closely protected but it's vital you do your bit to ensure minimal impact. Always make sure your boatman turns off the engine when close to the dolphins, do not get too close and never throw anything into the water. If action and activity is more up your street then think about hiring a bike or canoeing on the Mekong.

Kratie can be reached in about 5 hours from Phnom Penh. Accommodation in Kratie isn't yet up to the standards found in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, but is comfortable enough and pretty good value. A fantastic guesthouse called Le Tonle is somewhere we would definitely recommend. The guesthouse has been created to help young trainees in hospitality learn new skills and it retains much character.

Make it happen

Our local travel companies will have lots of suggestions about how to build Kratie into a tailor-made itinerary just for you, but take a look at our Cambodia page to get you started. All our trips are private and can be tailor-made to your requirements and dates. To talk to someone in the TravelLocal office, call 0117 342 7898

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