Stung Treng is a northern province of Cambodia. It was formerly
called Xieng Teng and was once a part of the vast Khmer Empire,
then the Lao kingdom of Lan Xang and later the Lao kingdom of
Champassack. During the period of French Indochina it was again
ceded to Cambodia.
The provincial capital is also named Stung Treng and is an
important trade hub with a few hints of Lao influence scattered
about, owing to the fact that the Lao border is about 50 km
away. It’s a friendly, quiet country town situated on the
confluence of the San River and the Mekong River. It actually
sits on the banks of the San River, with the mighty Mekong
coming into the picture on the northeastern outskirts of he
The San River goes by three names, depending on which of the
locals you speak to. Some call it the Kong River because the San
and Kong Rivers merge together about 10 km northeast of Stung
Treng town, confusing people about which name the river should
bear. Others call it the Sekong River, which is the combined
name of these two rivers. Whatever name the fiver beside the
town goes by, it’s another one of Cambodia’s beautiful
picture-postcard river towns. It’s a nice place to kick back and
chill out if you are on a circuit tour of the Northeast River
Scene, from here to Laos.
The San River is fronted in Stung Treng by a nice stretch of
paved road. It’s the centre of socializing (as in most Cambodian
river towns) in the late afternoon and early evening hours as
the locals ride up and down the stretch enjoying the view and
Drink and dessert stands spring up earlier to serve the daily
merrymaking crowd. It’s a nice spot for a walk or jog any time
of the day as the river road turns into a pleasant rural road
that leads to the airport 4 km north of town.
The river port area just in front of the small city park is
fairly busy, handling trade between Cambodia and Laos. The ferry
across the San River to where National Highway No 7 continues
north to the Laos border is also at this pier. The fare is 300
riel per head. We went for a ride on this stretch (2,000 riel
for taking a big bike on the ferry), but there is not much to
see along the way besides light jungle and some remnants next to
the road that was a target of carpet bombing during the Vietnam
War years (the road was recently overhauled and is now one of
the best in the country). The road works its way eastward so it
does not afford views of the Mekong River as one would hope. The
few residents we saw along the way were truly amazed to see the
likes of us, who would want to be there.
Stung Treng province, which covers an area of 11,092 square
kilometres, is a remote and sparsely populated province in the
northeast of Cambodia. It borders Lao to the north, Ratanakiri
to the east, Preah Vihear to the west and Kratie and Kompong
Thom to the south. The province is divided into five district,
34 communes and 128 villages.
Stung Treng is a unique province quite distinct from other
Cambodian provinces in the Mekong basin. Extensive forests,
intersecting rivers and streams and low population density
characterize it. Stung Treng includes also the western chunk of
the massive Virachey National Park, accessible from Siem Pang, a
small beautiful town on the Tonle Kong. The province also
features three big rivers the Tonle Kong, the Tonle San and the
mighty Mekong with its hundreds of small islands scattered on
the river stretch in Stung Treng Province.
How to get there
There is no flight operating to this province yet.
Coming from Phnom Penh, Stung Treng town is accessible via NH No
7 (348km). There are several bus companies, such as PPT and
Sorya going daily to Stung Treng. The easiest way to get there
is to buy a ticket at the central bus station southwest of the
central market. Sorya goes twice a day, at 7am in the morning
and 12am noon. The trip will take around 7-9hours and costs
Bullet Boat to Kratie:
Unfortunately, the bullet boats usually don’t journey beyond
Kratie. The stretch between Kratie and Stung Treng is loaded
with small islands and clumps, with a fair number of dead trees
thrown in for good measure. The journey is made only when the
water is very high, which doesn’t occur during a good portion of
the rainy season. When the boat is running it beats taking a
share taxi as, unlike the road, the river affords a smooth ride.
The trip downriver to Kratie takes around 4 1⁄2 hours and six to
seven hours coming upstream from Kratie. As of May 2000, the
bullet boat was running every other day at a fare of 20,000riel.
If the boats are making the run, take it- it’s a pretty stretch
of the river. It’s not sure if they still run, probably just
Share taxis ply two routes from Stung Treng, one to Banlung (Rattanakiri)
and the other south to Kratie.
For the trip to Banlung, bring food, water and mosquito
repellent because if there is a breakdown (not uncommon) on this
bumpy backwoods laterit road you may be caught in the jungle for
the night. Share taxis usually go in groups in case of a
breakdown, but as the other taxis are usually full as well,
people do end up stranded and sleeping out in the elements at
times. The five-hour trip stretches to seven hours during the
rainy season (fare: $8-10 for taxi/$5-7 on the back of a
From Stung Treng to Kratie, the fare is about 20,000 riel.
Banlung to Stung Treng
The 146 km journey from Banlung to Stung Treng takes 5 1⁄2 hours
during the rainy season, so knock at least an hour off of that
in the dry season. The road is generally lousy, passing through
areas of bomb craters that create deep lakes during the rainy
season, but you can skirt around the perimeter of most of them.
Where you can’t, the road goes zigzagging through the jungle,
which is slow and slippery in the wet months.
Having said that, there are a few decent stretches and the last
19 km (after the road merges with Highway 7) are fairly easy
ones. The same suggestion we made in the share taxi part of this
section applies for riders on this road. Bring food, water and
mosquito repellent. If you have a breakdown, there may not be
anyone else coming by, depending on the time of day. It’s always
best to get an early start to improve your chances if you do
have a problem.
Stung Treng to Kratie
The recently new paved National Highway No 7 has now become one
of the best roads in the whole country. The trip is 142 km and
takes about 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours. There is no problem regarding
Where to eat
There are just a couple of restaurants in town, but if you are
on a budget trip you’ll find nice very reasonable food just on
the markets west front. There are some cookeries with quite a
wide range of cheap Khmer, Chinese and Lao food open until the
early night. Late afternoon the typical small stalls offering
several fruit juices and delicious baguettes.
This nice decorated café and restaurant halfway from the centre
to the airport is not only a place to eat but to see beautiful
silk weaving settled in a gallery style. They offer light
Cambodian but also some Western food.
They make the most of their parkway location by having a small
sidewalk eating area. It’s a pleasant enough early evening spot
as the locals ride by on their evening motorcycle pleasure
cruise. They have good food (Western and Khmer), and an English
menu to go along with English-speaking staff.
New World restaurant:
This restaurant is just one block west from the market and
offers a mix of Asian flavours from Cambodia, Thailand and China
plus a fair selection of beers.
No Name Restaurant:
Located across the parkway from the Arunreas, this place is easy
to spot, as it always seems to have Coca Cola and Player
umbrellas set up. The food is tasty, but is prepared to try your
hand at Khmer as they don’t speak English and there isn’t an
English menu. The staffs are very friendly, though.
Kolap Stung Treng Hotel & Restaurant:
Good Khmer and Chinese food with an English menu and beer girls,
Where to stay
Sekong Hotel: (tel: 074/973762)
This ex-government hotel is located to the West of the boat
port. It’s a very pleasant place with its nice layout and
location next to the San River. Bib rooms with nice old wooden
furniture and a Western bath are US$ 10 a night with a fan, or a
whopping US$ 20 a night to flip on the a/c. They say the
electricity is expensive in these parts. Better bargains are the
simple rooms in the back of the complex. They have a fan and
Western bath for US $ 5 a night. The friendly Khmer lady owner
has her staff (family) head to the market for warm French bread
in the mornings and serves it with espresso coffee.
Sok Sambath Hotel: (tel: 012/327677)
That’s probably the best hotel in town near the market area. The
rooms are well tended with TV and creature comforts like hot
water for those who are willing to spend an extra dollar. They
also have a Chinese breakfast in the morning. The fan rooms are
quite basic but come at a reasonable price for $7 for two.
Mohasal Hotel: (tel: 074/973999)
This place is situated in the far south of the town but is
therefore a quite place. The air-con rooms are a bit old so it’s
just worth to consider them for getting away from the trouble.
The rooms have big ornately carved wooden beds. The price is
Preap Sor Guesthouse: (tel: 012/936235)
Clean and simple rooms with a Western bath for US$ 10 a night
with a fan. It’s double what the price should be. Adding a/c
puts the price at US$ 15.
Riverside Guesthouse: (tel: 012/439454)
This guesthouse is located next to the riverside in front of the
station. It is a very friendly-run place wit basic fan rooms and
bathroom. The staffs are very helpful but it’s mostly crowded
with backpackers. The rooms are around $3-6.
Very basic rooms with a floor fan, bed and mosquito net. It’s
clean and there is a share bath for US$ 5 a night.
As it is quite common in Cambodia even small cities, such as
Stueng Treng have at least one bigger market. You may also find
a market in Stueng Treng centre, which is a bustling place,
selling goods from Laos, Vietnam and, of course, Cambodia. There
is also a small night market that sets up on the southwest side
of the market, and there are also small drink and food market
shops near the Preap Son Guesthouse on the opposite side of the
market. To take something special from this province along, buy
some precious handmade weavery.
Where to see
Fresh Water Dolphin
Nowadays the dolphins live mainly in the rivers and
waterways of Kratie and Stung Treng provinces. The
number of these mammals is estimated to be between 40
and 60 and they are often seen travelling in small
groups of 6 to 10 individuals. The females usually give
birth to young once every two years most often during
the months of June to August. The young dolphins are
about 1m in length at birth and suckle milk. By
adulthood the dolphins can attain a length of over 2.5m
and weigh up to 180kg. Their diet consists mainly of
small fish, shellfish and snails. The dolphins can swim
at speeds up to 40km per hour and stay submerged for
periods between five and ten minutes.
Hang Kho Ba Pagoda
Hang Kho Ba Pagoda is the cultural and historical site,
located at Hang Kho Ba Village, Hang Kho Commune, Steung
Treng District in Six-Kilometer distance from the
provincial town by the road to the airport, then turning
left across the river of Se Kong. The pagoda of Hang Kho
Ba is over 300 years. The local people there speak Lao
Steung Treng province has been recognized in two special
- The province riches in sweet tamarind fruit.
- The province riches in Pa Si Yi fish
- Pava fish.
Kantuy Ko is located in Samki Village and Commune, Steng
Treng District, about 4 kilometers (15mn) from
Provincial Town. It is the Nature Wildlife and
Koh Ksach Resort
Koh Ksach Resort is located along the river of Se Kong
in 5 kilometer distance from the provincial town. The
site features a beautiful sandy beach, 2 kilometers long
and one-half kilometer wide, where visitor can swim or
relax. A natural site, it can be visited only during the
dry season and especially popular during Khmer New Year.
Mekong River Trip to Laos
The Mekong River between Stung Treng and the Laos border
is very light on population and heavy on beautiful
scenery. Boulder outcroppings, numerous sets of rapids,
swirling pothole currents, wide sweeping stretches of
river and forested landscape along the banks all await
the boat traveler. It makes for a great trip, either for
the traveler that wants to continue on to Laos or for
those wanting to enjoy a wild stretch of the Mekong in
The trip is difficult to downright impossible to make on
this shallow stretch of the Mekong during the dry
season, with cont less sunken islands and a virtual
forest of trees growing right in the middle of the
river. The trip becomes an obstacle course for the boat
drivers this time of the year, as they carefully try to
choose the best way to guide their craft through the
maze that nature has created without losing a propeller
to the river. The best time of the year to take this
trip is from May to November when sufficient upstream
rains have raised the river to a level that allows the
boats to pass through carefully.
There is not a whole lot to do once you get to the
border area, but travelers can leave their passport with
Cambodian immigration (at the small checkpoint on the
west bank of the river) and cross to the Laos side to
eat at a riverside restaurant and look at the tiny
market in the Laos village of Geedahn. Cambodian
immigration officers may ask you see them, but it is not
a fee set by the central government so you don’t have to
pay it. There is also a guesthouse to stay at near this
village (on the Laos side of the river, but a couple of
hundred meters south along the riverbank where it is
still Cambodia). Which was built here for border traders
that lose the day light hours and need a place to spend
the night. It’s a nice enough place, but overpriced,
with a room that includes two big beds and a fan going
for US$ 8 a night. Electricity is running between dusk
and midnight. To take the trip, head down to the
riverbank area (near the small bullet boats just east of
the pier) in Stung Treng town before 8:30 am and talk to
one of the operators of the small freight boats. The
fare is 15,000 riel (one way) and the trip to the border
area takes about 5 ½ hours, but is cut down to just over
three hours on the trip back south as the swift current
on this stretch of the Mekong pushes the boats right
If you want a faster journey, approach one of the small
fiberglass boat operators, the ones that have the 40-hp
outboard motors-they want US$ 20-$25 (one-way) to make
the trip- but if you are looking for a quick trip or
fast fun, the trip time going upriver is cut down to
only 1 ½ hours. The slow boats are fast enough coming
back downstream so you could save money by grabbing one
of those on the return trip. For those wanting to cross
into Laos using this route you will need a Laos’s visa
in your possession and you also need to stop at the main
police station in Stung Treng town (see map) to get a
letter of permission to cross the border at this point.
This is shown to Cambodian immigration will not let you
stamp out of the country without this letter.
Ou Pong Moan Resort
Ou Pong Moan Resort is the natural and man-made resort
which locates at Pong Moan village, Ou Pong Moan
Commune, Steung Treng District in nine-Kilomter distance
from the provincial town. The resort locates at the
turning point to the provinces of Ratanakiri, Kratie and
Steugh treng. At Ou Pong Moan resort, tourists are
usually interested in:
- Ou Pong Moan has water source from the ground. The
water source locates at 80-kilometer distance from the
recreational site and flows all seasons. The water is
suitable for swimming.
- At the riverside, there are small Kho Chos for leisure
- 10 Kwh electricity dam which is favorable for tourist
Phnom Preah Theat
Phnom Preah Theat is located in Thmey Village and
Commune, Stung Treng District, about 2 kilometes (5mn)
from Provincial Town. It is a Nature Wildlife and
Preah Ko Temple
Preah Ko Temple is located in Intersection of Sékong
River and Mékong River, Thla Borivat District, about 3.5
kilometers (10mn) from Provincial Town.
Pream Buorn Lveng Temple
Pream Buorn Lveng Temple is located in Kang De Sor
Village, Thala Bariwatt Commune, Thala Bariwatt
District, about 6 kilometers (15mn) From Province. It is
the Historical Site.
Thala Barivat Resort
Thala Barivat Resort is located at Thala Barivat
district in 4 kilometers distance from the provincial
town. This area can be accessible by going across Se
Kong river and Mekong river to the provincial road of
Thala Baricvat is the historical resort in which the
Preah Ko timple built in 7-8 century, made of red bred
during the feign of the king, Javvarman I. In front of
the temple, there is a statue of Preah Ko ( sacred cow)
available in Cambodia next to the Preah Ko statue, there
is a space having 10-squar meter area for playing the
game of Viey khil annually, before the Khmer New Year.
The game played during four days and three nights. It
starts in the afternoon at 2 O’clock and lasts for two
hours. The game played during the festival of the ethnic
minority of Kouy.
There are many small, ancient temples near the Thala
Barivat, but most of them, such as Prambuon Lveng
temple, Srei temple and Angkor Kmao temple have been
heavily damaged over time.
Wat Phnom, Stung Treng
Wat Phnom, Stung Treng Borrowing the name of the famous
land mark temple in Phnom Penh, this one isn’t high
enough for a good view of the area, though you can see
the mountains along the Lao border to the north. Anew
wat is currently under construction on the site. River
Scene, from Here to Laos The San River is fronted in
Stung Treng by a nice stretch of paved road. It’s the
center of socializing (as in most Cambodian river towns)
in the late afternoon and early evening hours as the
locals ride up and down the stretch enjoying the view
and each other. Drink and dessert stands spring up
earlier to serve the daily merrymaking crowd. It’s a
nice spot for a walk or jog any time of the day as the
river road turns into a pleasant rural road that leads
to the airport 4 km north of town.
The river port area just in front of the small city park
is fairly busy, handling trade between Cambodia and
Laos. The ferry across the San River to where Highway 7
continues north to the Laos border is also at this pier.
The fare is 300 riel per head. We went for a ride on
this stretch (2,000 riel for taking a big bike on the
ferry), but there is not much to see along the way
besides jungle and the remnants of a road that was a
target of carpet bombing during the Vietnam War years.
The road works its way eastward so it does not afford
views of the Mekong River as one would hope. The few
residents we saw along the way were truly amazed to see
the likes of us, would want to be there.
Cambodia is home to some of the most significant
populations of mammalian wildlife in Asia. Endangered
species such as leopards, tigers, bantams, gaur, barking
deer and the near-extinct Kouprey – the Kingdom’s
national animal and the world’s rarest large mammal –
have been sighted off the beaten path. In addition, wild
elephants still roam remote pristine forests and monkeys
and snakes abound in mountainous areas. While the
international market for endangered species poses a
great threat to the preservation of the Kingdom’s
wildlife, conservationists strive to research, document
and preserve them.