Stung Treng is a tranquil town situated on the Sekong River and about 140 km west of Banlung and a similar distance north of Kratie.
Many visitors to Stung Treng on the Cambodia Package Tours use this town as a layover spot en route to Laos - although with the construction in recent times this is helping to revitalize the town and make it more assessable from central Cambodia.
There are plenty of local attractions in the Stung Treng countryside with many directly related to the Mekong discovery trail. A great trip for the tourist is the river boat rides that take place on the Mekong River to the Laos border and gives a perfect opportunity to see stunning waterfalls and rare Irrawaddy dolphins on this relaxing journey.
Also, Stung Treng is great for Cambodia Adventure Tours and travellers with an adventurous spirit because there are a variety of riverine trips to be experienced, as well as exploring the western bank of the Mekong River, which is often off the major tourist itinerary. This region is great for the motorcyclist who is searching for off-road opportunity is to travel through western Stung Treng as they are making their way to Preah Vihear.
The warm and humid tropical climate in Cambodia makes it a perfect destination to visit at any time of the year. This country has an average temperature of 27°C with a minimum temperature that can reach about 16°C. The preferred months to tour this country are March to November which is the cool season when the weather is most pleasant and can range from 18°C to 26°C. The rainy season takes place from May to October with a temperature range of 26° to 34°C. This isn't the best time for the travellers that are exploring the country by road because many areas of the countryside can start to become impassable. Also, the hottest month of the year is April, which many travellers may wish to avoid if hoping to minimize exploring the sights in intense heat.
The province of Stung Treng spans a total area of 11,092 km² and is located in the northeast of the country in a region that is quite sparsely populated and remote. This province is bordered to the south with Kompong Thom, to the west with Preah Vihear, to the east with Ratanakiri and to the north with Laos.
Stung Treng is characterized by its low population density, intersecting streams and rivers, and extensive forests, which can help to make it quite distinctive from many other provinces in the Mekong basin. This region also includes three major rivers in the mighty Mekong River, the Tonle San and the Tonle Kong.
How to get there
Most of the transport leaves the bus or taxi hubs near to the Riverside guesthouse.
One of the easiest travel options to reach Stung Treng is by bus travelling from Phnom Penh. The total travel time is in the region of 8-10 hours and provides a once or twice daily service with leaving times at 7 AM and 12 PM. There are several bus services that follow this route, including Sarah and PPT. The cost is in the region of $8 per person.
A quick travel option is to take a minibus that can take about two hours to complete between Stung Treng and Dom Kralor on the Laos border. Also, the minibus trip from Stung Treng and Banlung takes place regularly and is completed within a time frame of about 4 hours.
Other options to travel on the Cambodia Package Holiday include the share taxis that have the option to follow one of two routes – either from Kratie or Banlung (Rattanakiri). If planning the trip from Banlung it can benefit to pack certain supplies, such as mosquito repellent, water and food in the event of a breakdown - this is quite common. Most of the road surfaces are quite bumpy and there is the potential to be left by the roadside for the night.
But, the share taxi is often seen to travel in groups in the event of having this type of trouble on the road. The time to complete the trip by road is in the region of 5 to 7 hours and costs about $8 to $10 per person. Plus, the trip can take longer during the wet season.
Where to stay
With a lot of tourists trucking through this area, the hotel and guesthouse accommodation in the area isn’t the best with some places less than inspiring.
A stay at the Golden River Hotel is one of the finest in town with nearly 50 spacious and clean rooms with basic features like TVs, fridges and bathroom with hot water. The guest rooms at the front give great views and are charged several dollars more.
The Riverside Guest House is a popular traveller’s hub for the tourist on the Cambodia travel packages. Most rooms are simple and basic, but the prices are great for the budget traveller. It has a quite nice attached bar-restaurant and is also very helpful for getting travel information.
By booking a room at the Sekong Hotel the traveller gets to stay in an ex-government hotel that is quite close to the boat port. The cost of the rooms can vary from $5 to $10 per night. The most expensive rooms have a western-style bath, old wooden furniture and a useful fan to keep cool at night. Other rooms near the rear of the hotel are cheaper and include the western bath and fan. But, for the traveller that wants the air-con switched on, this can increase the cost per night to $20. A nice breakfast is served each morning with consists of espresso coffee and warm French bread.
A stay at the Sok Sambath Hotel is well located near the market and one of the best hotels near that area. The rooms are kept clean and comfortable and can cost extra for basics like hot water. Most of the rooms cost $7 per night for 2 people. Also, guests are served a nice Chinese breakfast in the morning.
The Mohasal Hotel is located in a quiet and remote area that is in the far south of town. The cost per night is $5 to $10 which gives guests ornately carved wooden beds and certain rooms include air-con, and a practical base to use when exploring the Cambodia vacation spots.
Eat and drink
A great way to start the day in Stung Treng is to enjoy a bowl of noodle soup along the riverside. Most meals are very cheap which is served with a strong cup of coffee – but the English is quite limited in this area. Other options close to town include the market stalls that offer an assortment of fruit and a favourite like coconut-flavoured rice in bamboo. In the late afternoon, there are plenty of food stalls that specialize in delicious baguettes and fruit juices.
There are a few worthwhile restaurants in town, but for the backpacker or budget travellers it can benefits to limit the options to the food choices served at the markets. Plus, there are several cookeries offering a varied range of dishes that have a Laos, Chinese or Khmer influence.
A visit to the Ponika’s Palace gives the perfect opportunity to try various local and international dishes, such as Indian food with delightful Khmer curries, English breakfast, pizza, and burgers can appear on the menu, or traditional meals like a spicy-type of salad with fish, port or chicken. Plus, this place also services cold beer to quench the thirst. The main dishes cost in the region of $2 to $5.
The Dara Canteen is perfect for the French traveller because its owners are fluent in French and offer a varied and good valued menu with filet mignon and wholesome baguettes. The dishes can cost $2 to $5.
Similar to most of the small cities in Cambodia like Stung Treng there is a decent size market to stock up on the must-have supplies as well as gifts and souvenirs (a great local option is precious handmade weavery). The market in the centre is very lively and busy with plenty of locals that trade in the Cambodian, Vietnamese and Laos goods. Also, the night market is great for food and drinks and is easily found close to the Preap Son Guest house
Things to see and do
San River (Tonle San)
The focal point in Stung Treng is the San River (Tonle San) that is seen along the front of town. A great way to spend half a day is to book a private boat trip that is available at regular intervals throughout the course of the day. Most of the trips take the tourist in the direct of the Laos border where it is possible to get stunning views of the waterfalls. The cost per trip is in the region of $30 to $40, but this does include lunch. In addition to the terrific scenery, there are a few rough rapids to pass which makes the more fun and adventurous journey.
Hang Kho Ba Pagoda
A visit to the 300 years old Hang Kho Ba Pagoda is a sensible option for those staying in the provincial town of Stung Treng on the Cambodia tour packages. This area is one of the finest in the entire country for the tourists interesting in seeing beautiful pagodas. The surrounding countryside and architecture of the structures is completely enchanting and well worth a visit when in this area. Plus, the pagoda is used much like a museum with plenty of Buddhist artefacts that are waiting to be viewed by the tourist.
Fresh Water Dolphin
Today, most of the dolphins are living in waterways and rivers near the Stung Treng and Kratie provinces. In total there is believed to be about 60 dolphins in the local area – although they do travel in groups of 6-10 individuals. The diet for the dolphins is mainly snails, shellfish and fish. Most of the adults are in the region of 180 kg and an overall length of about 2.5 m. The breeding season takes place throughout the months of June to August with the baby dolphins nearly 1 m in length. Plus, they have the ability to submerge for the period of 5 to 10 minutes and can reach a maximum speed of 40 km per hour.
The best way to admire these magnificent creates is to take a boat ride into the river and explore the area the dolphins are most commonly seen. A motorboat is often used to get close to the area. On arrival at the site the motor is switched off and a paddle takes its place to avoid scaring the dolphins.
Phnom Preah Theat
A trek to the nature wildlife reserve at Phnom Preah Theat is a perfect choice for those travellers on the Indochina tour packages, and is easily reached by local transport within 2 km from town. This is an area rich in rare wildlife and dense forests that helps to attract the attention of the tourists. Most areas of the forest land are so thick and dense that is isn’t possible for the sun to penetrate at ground-level. This is a great destination for the trekking tour with plenty of pathways to follow. But, for the best experience when exploring this region it can benefit to hire the services of a professional tour guide who is knowledgeable of the local surroundings and can help to keep you safe from the wild beasts roaming the local area.