For a beautiful sunset on the Mekong River, Kratié (Kracheh / ក្រចេះ) in Cambodia is the place to be. This town of approximately 20,000 inhabitants is located 250 kilometers northeast of the capital Phnom Penh and has a particularly relaxed atmosphere. In addition, here you will find a number of attractions that are more than worth it.
Tourists are mostly coming over to catch a glimpse of the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin. According to researchers, only 90 live in this part of the Mekong River. But there are many more great things to see and do in Kratie. In this travel guide, I take you to this charming town in Cambodia.
What would you like to know about Kratié in Cambodia?
- A brief history of Kratié
- Sightseeing – 4 interesting places in Kratié
- Accommodation – Where to stay?
- Transport – How to get there?
A brief history of Kratié
Not much is known about the far-reaching history of Kratié. In 2019, archaeologists found remains of 100 temples in Kratié province that probably date back to the sixth or seventh century AD. Back then, this area was part of the Kingdom of Chenla. This was a precursor to the great Khmer Empire we know from Angkor Wat. Historians assume that in the sixth century Cambodia consisted of several small kingdoms.
After World War II (19405-1945), there was a lot of heavy fighting in Kratie as the Khmer Rouge and the government of Cambodia clashed. A civil war, so to speak, was going on, just as in the neighboring country the Vietnam War was taken place. The Americans also bombed the Kratié region to block the transport of weapons to Vietnam. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia and isolated the country from the rest of the world.In 1978, war broke out between Cambodia and Vietnam and the Vietnamese took over Kratie as one of the first parts of the country.
Sightseeing – 5 interesting places in Kratie
Kratie is a great place to explore for one or two days. There are some particularly nice sights to visit, most of which are outside the town. It is possible to arrange a tour in Kratie, but you can also rent a bike and do some things by yourself. Below you’ll find a few suggestions for inspiration….
1. Discover the oldest temple in Kratie: Roka Kandal pagoda
There are only a few sights in Kratie that tell something about the history of this town on the Mekong. One of the places is the Roka Kandal pagoda. Located about 2 kilometers south of Kratie, this pagoda dates back to the late eighteenth century/early nineteenth century according to historians. It is a cute temple that has been renovated several times due to its wood construction.
Furthermore, you can find more information about the craft of basket weaving here. An estimated 4,000 people in Kratie work in this industry. In addition, it is also possible to buy some souvenirs in the small nearby shop. The pagoda is not always open, but local residents will gladly open the door of the Roka Kandal pagoda for you for a small tip.
2. Cycle around at the little island of Koh Trong
Near Kratie lies in the Mekong River the island of Koh Trong. With a ferry you can go from the quay in the center of town to the island for a nice bike ride. It is an ideal way to see more of traditional life in Cambodia. You will come across a number of temples and you can see a floating village from the shore. It is also possible to stay here overnight, such as at Rajabori Villas Resort, in Arun Mekong Guesthouse or at home in a homestay. Upon arrival on the island, you can rent a bicycle or an ox and cart. Below is a map of the possibilities….
3. Spot the Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong
10 kilometers north of Kratie, a rare group of dolphins called the Irrawaddy dolphins swim in the Mekong River. These special animals are in danger of extinction and it is estimated that just under 100 dolphins live in the river. During the reign of the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979), they were hunted for food and net fishing has further plummeted the population in the period since. The construction of a dam near the town of Sambor could also threaten the number of Irrawaddy dolphins with extinction.
Fortunately, they seem to be doing a little better in recent years. You can rent a boat with a guide, but make sure the boat he not too close. Then the animals might feel hunted. But there is also a nicer From the quay you can rent a boat with a guide but make sure you don’t get too close to them. And also make sure the captain doesn’t chase them too much. Otherwise, there’s a nicer way to greet them yourself….
Kayaking to the Irrawaddy dolphins?
For a unique experience, book a tour by kayak to the Irrawaddy dolphins. Sorya Kayaking Adventures & Cafe and Dolphin Kayaking Adventures in Kratie can arrange these tours for you.
4. Explore Sambor and go to the 100 Column Pagoda
20 kilometers north of Kratie is the town of Sambor. This used to be the main city of a number of kingdoms, but there is very little that historically recalls it. It is better known as Samphu Borak.
In Sambor you will find one of the most extraordinary temples in the country, the 100 column pagoda. It is a beautiful temple and definitely worth a visit. You can also take a look at the Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre, a shelter for turtles. This is a small center for special turtles. It is not large and you can watch a video for more information. You will also be asked to make a small donation.
5. Relaxing and swimming in the Mekong River
When you visit the Irrawaddy dolphins on your own, you can take a break in the town of Kampi and swim in the Mekong River. This place, called Kampi Rapid is located on a quiet stretch of the Mekong River on which a number of wooden houses have been built. And to top it off, there are hammocks everywhere and you can relax. Especially many locals come here and it costs you a small fee to use the huts. I personally found it ideal for a quiet moment to recover. Kampi Rapid is located 1 kilometer north of the place where you can spot the Irrawaddy dolphins.
Accommodation – Where to stay in Kratie?
Kratie is a nice and small town along the beautiful Mekong River. Most hotels and guesthouses are located along the Mekong and within walking distance of the bus station in the south of Kratie. For people who wish to have more peace and tranquility, there is the option to stay on Kaoh Trong, an island in the Mekong next to Kratie. See the map below for more information on hotels and guesthouses.
Tip: A special place to stay is at Le Tonlé Guesthouse. This guesthouse was founded with the idea to give homeless youngsters a chance by working in the service and the kitchen. And it has to be said: the food is really delicious! Le Tonlé Guesthouse has both private rooms and dormitories available. But book in time, because this accommodation is quite popular! It is also possible to rent bikes here and book tours to the Irrawaddy dolphins.
Transport – How to get to Kratie?
Bus: Kratie is only a small town along the Mekong and has a small bus station in the south. From there it is a short walk to your hotel or guesthouse. To explore the area you depend on renting a scooter/motorbike, a bicycle/mountain bike or a tuktuk.
Do you have more tips, ideas or comments about this historical travel guide of Kratie in Cambodia? If so, feel free to leave a comment below.