Forget Phnom Penh’s Pochentong or Siem Reap International Airport, if you can arrive in the Kingdom of Cambodia by boat then that’s the way to go! We’ll stretch a point by including the awesome Sangkar River trip between Battambang, (near the Thai frontier), and Siem Reap and there’s the increasingly popular trip up the Mekong from Chau Doc on the Vietnamese border to Phnom Penh, but the rarely travelled stretch between Laos’s 4,000 Islands and Cambodia’s Stung Treng Town involves a 2 hour slow boat trip down what is certainly one of the most pristine and scenic stretches of the entire Mekong River.
It is however a section of the river that’s hardly ever travelled; very few villages so very few local boats or fishermen, no commercial traffic since the French left, no public boat services since there are no towns of any consequence and very, very few tourists. (Now a brand new road linking Laos to Stung Treng and beyond – Phnom Penh or Siem Reap – has been completed there will certainly be even less traffic in the future.)
In the dry season, a maze of rocks, islets and sandbanks; in the cool season myriad rock-pools create an undisturbed haven for migrating waterfowl and in the rainy season huge trees and massive roots emerge straight out of the fast flowing waters, eddies and whirlpools.
This wild, jungle-lined, stretch of the Mekong is also bracketed by the river’s only two remaining pods of Irrawaddy dolphins – one to the north near Veung Kham on the Lao/Cambodia border, beneath the Khonephapaeng Falls and another south, by the Sambor Rapids between Stung Treng and Kratie. An endemic and previously unidentified species of bird – the Mekong Wagtail – was identified on this section of river only a few years ago.
We include the river journey from the Lao border to Stung Treng, before continuing by road to Kratie, (to avoid the Sambor rapids), on our Thailand, Laos and Cambodia tour ‘Emerald Triangle’. As we said – a great way to arrive in Cambodia!
Next trip departs Bangkok 14th February and you can find all tour details at this link.