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Eastern Cambodia

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275

Eastern Cambodia
Eastern Cambodia is home to a diversity of landscapes and peoples, shattering the illusion that
the country is all paddy fields and sugar palms. There are plenty of those in the lowland provinces, but in the northeast they yield to the forested mountains of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri,
both up-and-coming ecotourism areas. This is a vast region, stretching from the dragon’s tail
where the borders of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam meet, to near enough the dragon’s mouth
where the mighty Mekong continues its journey into the delta and on to the South China Sea.
The river and its tributaries snake through the land, breathing life into the fields, blanketing
the landscape in dazzling greens and providing a livelihood for millions of people.
If it is a walk on the wild side that fires your imagination, then the northeast is calling.
The rolling hills and lush forests provide a home to many ethnic minority groups known as
Khmer Leu (Upper Khmer) or chunchiet (ethnic minorities). With different dialects, lifestyles
and looks, these people are a world away from their lowland Khmer neighbours. Peppering the area are thundering waterfalls, crater lakes and meandering rivers. Trekking, biking,
kayaking and elephant rides are all activities beginning to take off in this remote corner of
Cambodia, making it a must for adrenaline seekers.
The ‘Wild East’ atmosphere doesn’t stop there. This is also home to rare wildlife such as
tigers, leopards and elephants, although the chances of seeing some of these are about as likely
as the kouprey – a wild ox and the country’s national symbol – still living in the forests. The
Mekong is home to dwindling numbers of the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin, which can
be viewed year-round near Kratie. Do the maths: it all adds up to an amazing experience.

HIGHLIGHTS
„ Catch a glimpse of the rare freshwater Irrawaddy

dolphin in the Mekong River near Kratie (p288)

„ Dive into the crystal-clear waters of the crater lake

„ Learn how to be a mahout for the day at the

er

Mondulkiri
Province
Kratie
Sen Monorom

Kompong Cham

Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri (p302)
„ Soak up the charms of Kompong Cham (p280), a

bustling town on the Mekong and gateway to historic temples, lush countryside and friendly locals
„ ELEVATION: 5-1500M

„ POPULATION: 6 MILLION

„ AREA: 68,472 SQ KM

EASTERN CAMBODIA

of Boeng Yeak Lom (p296) in Ratanakiri, the best
natural swimming pool in the country, surrounded...
EASTERN CAMBODIA
© Lonely Planet Publications
Eastern Cambodia is home to a diversity of landscapes and peoples, shattering the illusion that
the country is all paddy fields and sugar palms. There are plenty of those in the lowland prov-
inces, but in the northeast they yield to the forested mountains of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri,
both up-and-coming ecotourism areas. This is a vast region, stretching from the dragon’s tail
where the borders of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam meet, to near enough the dragon’s mouth
where the mighty Mekong continues its journey into the delta and on to the South China Sea.
The river and its tributaries snake through the land, breathing life into the fields, blanketing
the landscape in dazzling greens and providing a livelihood for millions of people.
If it is a walk on the wild side that fires your imagination, then the northeast is calling.
The rolling hills and lush forests provide a home to many ethnic minority groups known as
Khmer Leu (Upper Khmer) or chunchiet (ethnic minorities). With different dialects, lifestyles
and looks, these people are a world away from their lowland Khmer neighbours. Pepper-
ing the area are thundering waterfalls, crater lakes and meandering rivers. Trekking, biking,
kayaking and elephant rides are all activities beginning to take off in this remote corner of
Cambodia, making it a must for adrenaline seekers.
The ‘Wild East’ atmosphere doesn’t stop there. This is also home to rare wildlife such as
tigers, leopards and elephants, although the chances of seeing some of these are about as likely
as the kouprey – a wild ox and the country’s national symbol – still living in the forests. The
Mekong is home to dwindling numbers of the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphin, which can
be viewed year-round near Kratie. Do the maths: it all adds up to an amazing experience.
Eastern Cambodia
ELEVATION: 5-1500M POPULATION: 6 MILLION AREA : 68,472 SQ KM
HIGHLIGHTS
Catch a glimpse of the rare freshwater Irrawaddy
dolphin in the Mekong River near Kratie ( p288 )
Experience a different Cambodia with a homestay
in Mondulkiri ( p298 ) and learn about the life of
the hardy Pnong people
Dive into the crystal-clear waters of the crater lake
of Boeng Yeak Lom ( p296 ) in Ratanakiri, the best
natural swimming pool in the country, surrounded
by lush forest
Learn how to be a mahout for the day at the
Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri ( p302 )
Soak up the charms of Kompong Cham ( p280 ), a
bustling town on the Mekong and gateway to his-
toric temples, lush countryside and friendly locals
Sen Monorom
Kratie
Boeng Yeak
Lom
Kompong Cham
Province
Mondulkiri
River
Mekong
275
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