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. Its 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 town.
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, its another one of Cambodias beautiful picture-postcard river towns. Its 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. Its 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 each other. Drink and dessert stands spring up earlier to serve the daily merrymaking crowd. Its 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.
How To Get There
There was once the Royal Air Cambodge and President Airlines covering some flights to Stung Treng, but by the time being there is no more flights to the picturesque town of Stung Treng (probably not enough occupancy).
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 approx. US$8
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 Pick-up).
From Stung Treng to Kratie, the fare is about 20,000 riel.
Motorcycle Touring Info:
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 cant, 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. Its 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 security.
Bullet Boats or Kratie:
Unfortunately, the bullet boats usually dont 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 doesnt 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- its a pretty stretch of the river. Its not sure if they still run, probably just occasionally.
What To See
Mekong River Trip to Laos
East River Wats
Wat Phnom, Stung Treng
Hang Kho Ba Pagoda
Koh Ksach Resort
Ou Pong Moan Resort
Phnom Preah Theat
Preah Ko Temple
Pream Buorn Lveng Temple
Boeung Yeak Loam Resort
Bou Sra Waterfall
Fresh Water Dolphin
Rum Near Waterwall