Ratanakiri is a Cambodia’s northeastern province which shares the borders with Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east, Mondulkiri Province to the south, and Stung Treng Province to the west. For a long period in its history, the Khmer, Lao had exploited Khmer Loeu residents as slaves and Thai empires dominated the region. In the French colonial period, the slave trade was stopped. After Cambodia had its independence again, a harsh Khmerization campaign threatened the life here. The region had been devastated by the Khmer Rouge in the 1960s and bombing during the Vietnam War. Nowadays, the province is rapidly developing and traditional ways of life is altered. Ratanakiri is known for its lush forests. Its population is 118,000 people, accounts for less than 1% of the country’s total population.
Inhabitants sparsely live on the hilly basalt plateau between Ratanakiri’s two major rivers.They gather 100 to 300 people in a village, though the provincial capital of Banlung (by far Ratanakiri’s largest settlement) has a population of 17,000.
Ratanakiri is the “wild East” of Cambodia. Remote, beautiful and authentic, the province holds some of the greatest adventures Cambodia offers, including swimming in a crystal clear crater lake, hiking through lush jungle, remote jungle rivers, and elephant trekking, discovering dozens of hidden waterfalls and meeting hill tribes. Ratanakiri is THE place to go for trekking, eco-travel and natural beauty.
Ratanakiri Province has a climate like the other areas in the country, there are 3 seasons : – Rainy season: June – October (27°c) – Cool season: November- February (24°c) – Hot season: March- May : Temperature: from 20°c -32°c Ratanakiri’s average temperature throughout the year is definately lower than in the other areas of Cambodia (except Mondulkiri Province).
THINGS TO SEE & DO IN RATANAKIRI
YEAK LOAM LAKE
Yeak Loam Lake is situated 5 km south – east of Banlung (capital city of Ratanak Kiri). The Yeak Loam lake (volcanic crater) is the most beautiful lake of Ratanakiri formed by a volcanic eruption almost 4,000 years ago with 50m deep, 800m 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. The lake and the area are considered sacred by many Khmer Loeu people, and are steeped in local myths and legends. There are a couple of docks on the lakeside where swimming and picnicking are encouraged.
KACHANG & KATIENG 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 12m 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.
OU’SENSRANOH & OU’ SEAN LAIR 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 see the forest and listen to the birds ‘ cries. Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall is situated 26 km, South of Banlung. This Waterfall has 4 floors and the height of each floor is 4m The water flows throughout the year. Around the Waterfall are beautiful natural landscapes and the visitors can go take a bath if they wish.
“HILL TRIBE” PEOPLE AND VILLAGES
Ratanakiri has a population of about 60,000 “Khmer Loeu” people. “Khmer Loeu” is a controversial (not conformably defined) term referring to various minority groups of people from different tribes. The Khmer Loeus are actually 12 different groups of tribal people (including the Tampuan, Kroeung, Kavet, Kachok, Charai, Prouv, Phnoung and Lan) living in the jungle and mountains. They still practice many of their traditional ways of life including slash and burn agriculture, and animism; and they continue to maintain traditional clothing styles and housing designs. Tours and treks may be tailored to meet guests’ requirements, but most guides suggest visiting more than one tribal village over two to four days to observe the different aspects of tribal life as well as visit with the different people.
Popular excursions include visiting Tumpoun and Charai villages to see their distinctive cemetery totems and long houses, and Kroeung villages to see their traditional farming techniques and unique “boy high houses”.
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 .
LUMPHAT WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary is situated 37km south of Banlung. With a total land area of 250,000 ha there are special kinds of animals and birds like tigers, elephants, red-headed vultures. Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary, Ratanakiri is one of the must-see places in the colorful Cambodia. The province of Ratanakiri is located in the northeastern part of the country. The word Ratanakiri is derived from the Sanskrit words Ratna and Giri, which combine to mean a mountain of gems . Countless tourists throng this place every year to experience and enjoy the rich wildlife, ecotourism prospects and remote tribal villages. If you want to tour this province extensively, make it a point to include Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary, Ratanakiri in your itinerary.
NORNG KABAT FOREST
Norng Kabat Forest is situated 23 km north of Banlung. This place has a pond. the visitors can go there to see the animals and birds which comes to at the pond. Beside this the tourists can go visit the ethnic villages, ethnic culture (tradition belief, festival, dancing, music).
VIRACHAY 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. The largest and most dense National Park in Cambodia, most visitors to Ratanakiri never set foot here because it is so remote. The park offers great trekking, mountains, streams and waterfalls for those who are interested in a serious trek.