Kratie is a sweet Cambodian town that sits on the mighty Mekong and is most famous for its graceful dolphins.
Many of the attractions in this part of Cambodia are actually located outside of the town proper, such as the aforementioned dolphins which are found off shore from Kampi. Other highlights around Kratie include the scenic island of Koh Trong and the town of Chhlong which is nestled along the river.
Kratie itself has some sightseeing spots in the form of colonial architecture and some charming restaurants, but this is also a place to get out and explore the countryside, filled with emerald green rice paddies and traditional stilt houses.
When to go
Rainy season in Kratie runs from June to October and there is a reason that many of the houses here are built on stilts. Flooding is widespread and the scenic paddy fields are often completely underwater.
As such this may not be the best time to go if you want to make the most of the scenery. November or December when the rains have eased off but the debilitating heat has yet to kick in are good picks – as for many other destinations in Cambodia.
Starting at the top end, the only real ‘big’ hotel in Kratie is the sweetly named River Dolphin Hotel (Sangkat Orussey). You will find everything here from shared dorms for USD2 right through to double rooms with hot water, air conditioning, and flat screen televisions for USD55.
A mid-range option is the Santepheap Hotel (Rue Sumamarit) which is used by tour groups and has hot water, Wi-Fi, and cable television. Single rooms come in at USD7 and doubles USD15.
When it comes to backpacker choices there is quite a good selection such as Le Tonle Guesthouse which is also a training center to promote jobs and sustainable tourism and has rooms for USD10.
Another backpacker favorite is the Silver Dolphin (Soramarith Quay) which has a rooftop bar and dorms from USD2 and singles from USD4. Finally the Heng Heng II Hotel (Soramarith Quay) is also well known in Kratie and has room from USD5-15 depending on whether you want a single or double with a fan or air conditioning.
Local eats to try in Kratie include nem which is raw river fish that has a spicy sauce and is wrapped in banana leaves, or krolanh which you will know when you see it, as it comes in the form of long bamboo poles stuffed with rice and mung beans that have been cooked in coconut milk.
For local Khmer food you can try Heng Heng (Street 10) which serves up all the classic dishes from this part of Cambodia and you can expect to pay from around USD1-2.50 per meal. Another good Khmer choice is Mekong Restaurant which offers up the usual curries and fish dishes from around USD1-2.
A favorite backpacker choice is Red Sun Falling which sits on the waterfront and is well loved by visitors. They serve western plates as well as Khmer bites and a wide selection of drinks like iced coffee and smoothies. It’s slightly more expensive than other choices in the town but they also have a library/bookshop where you can browse or buy something to read.
The best and pretty much the only way to get around town or explore the villages around Kratie is to rent your own set of wheels. Many places such as guesthouses rent both bicycles or motorbikes and these usually cost around USD1-2 per day for a bicycle and USD6-7 for a motorbike.
Another choice if you don’t feel comfortable driving yourself is to get a motodop to take you either around town (which shouldn’t cost more than USD1-2) or out into the surrounding areas. Motodop rental with a driver is usually around USD7 to take you out to the villages but this depends on exactly where you want to go and for how long.
Getting in and out
In the days of old you would have been able to get a boat up the Mekong that would stop in Kratie but now this is all but impossible. As such the main choice of transport here comes in the form of buses or minivans that run between Kratie and Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Different bus companies make the journey between Kratie and Phnom Penh such as Sorya Transport and Chamroeunratha Modern Express Transportation.
There are three buses daily from Phnom Penh to Kratie with Sorya Transport with the journey taking around 8 hours.
Chamroeunratha Modern Express Transportation vans travel faster and take 5 hours to Phnom Penh. Vans leave in the morningat 7am or 8 am.
If you want to go from Siem Reap to Kratie then expect a 8-9 hour trip. Asia Van Transfer offers comfortable vans on this route which leave in the morning and bring you to the destination in the late afternoon before dark. The fare is about USD24.
Kratie is generally a safe place to visit and violent crime, particularly aimed at foreigners, is rare. That said there have been reports of snatch thefts and robberies of tourists and locals alike, particularly by gangs on bikes. Remain vigilant and try not to carry valuables around with you and avoid walking alone in deserted areas late at night.
Malaria and dengue fever are two diseases carried by mosquitoes in Cambodia and can make you quite unwell. Make sure that you wear plenty of repellent and cover up using long sleeved clothing, particularly at dusk.
Kratie has some small local pharmacies as well as a basic hospital in the main area of town but if you get seriously ill you will need to travel to Phnom Penh for treatment.