Earth : Asia : Southeast Asia : Cambodia : Eastern Cambodia : Stung Treng
Stung Treng (also Stoeng Treng) is a small town in northeastern Cambodia, and can easily be described with the word "outpost" more than anything else. Many tourists heading to/from Laos pass through here, though few stay long as Banlung and Kratie offer far more excitement, activities, and remedies.
Fast boats used to be the best way to get here, but Chinese money has made the roads a joy (at least compared to their old state!).
Regular boat services north and south no longer run, though small speedboats can be chartered for trips to non-standard destinations.
National Highway 7 from the Laos-Cambodian border to Kratie via Stung Treng is fully sealed now. So it's not a problem any more to do the trip by bus/ minibus in either direction. Every guest house will sell you a ticket. Keep in mind that it can be quiet difficult to get public transport directly at the border, so it`s worth considering buying a ticket to your "final" destination. The minibus to the border takes about 1½ hr, while it`s a 4-5 hr drive to Kratie (much more in the rainy season). Minibus drivers have been known to abandon their passengers at the border crossing at Dom Kralor.
The daily bus from Phnom Penh to Laos passes the town in the afternoon and is the safest option to get to Laos.
Trucking from Kratie is also an option, and will set you back 20-25,000 riel for riding in the back of the truck, and 25-30,000 riel if you wish to ride in the cabin. As discussed on the Kratie page, trucking is somewhat less safe than other modes of transport and can take much longer. However, trucking in Cambodia puts you in much greater direct contact with the locals (as it's locals you'll be sharing a truck with most of the time) and isn't that one of the purposes of travelling?
Since the town is so small, there's no point in using anything other than your own two feet to get you anywhere within the town itself. If you decide to see any of the area's limited sights, simply hire one of the few motodops around for no more than a couple of thousand riel.
Most tourists who end up here do so only for a couple of hours before being rushed on south to Kratie or north to the Laos border. But, like anywhere in Cambodia, you could easily spend a day here relaxing by the river (don't plan on a week here, of course). There are a couple of sights to see here, but not enough to seriously keep yourself occupied.
The only meaningful sight in Stung Treng is watching the sun set and rise over the landscape. Great for lounging in a hammock, bottle of Angkor Beer in hand, lazily chatting with your compadres.
The town itself is not so big, and one can explore it on foot. There are some Wats (temples) in the town and a daily fresh market. To explore more of the area though, it is wiser to rent a moto. You can rent one at the Riverside guesthouse or near the market.
Next to the Sekong river (a tributary of the mighty Mekong), about 4 km east from the town centre there is the weaving co-operative Mekong Blue, which warrants a visit for the lovely fabrics and patterns they produce.
Furthermore, Stung Treng Village is a good base to explore Stung Treng Province. It's a beautiful place with some historical value. The Ramsar site to the north that connects to Laos is a real treat to explore and several (nearly extinct) Irrawaddy dolphin pools surround this charming provincial town. There are several NGO's such as Tourism for Help, Evergreen Community and Mlub Baitong active in the region and these welcome any kind of support from travellers where needed. The town links well to Banlung (Ratanakiri) and can be used for more than just a stopover. Hikes are available to see the 4000 Islands area from the mountain top and the unique merging of the 4 main rivers (also known as the Mekong plus 3 area) makes the place great for riverine exploration.
Both banks change between Cambodian riel, US$ and Lao kip, but you'll get a better rate from money changers at the market.
Most cheap guest houses can be found at the river front or the street just behind it. Expect to pay US$3 for a small room. However, if you can spare two or three dollars, the hotels below offer much better value for money.
Border Crossing to Lao
Stung Treng is the last outpost before the Lao border. The crossing sees few visitors for the time being despite the 87 km of excellent road all the way up to the border.
There is no scheduled means of (public) transport to the border and even if you have a motorbike driver or a fast boat taking you there, you may have to walk on the Lao side to the village of Voeng Kham to find some form of transport (about 4 km from the border). Travellers on the public bus from Phnom Penh are collected at the border though.
From February 2010 a Lao Visa has been available on arrival. How much, depends on what passport you have, but most were about US$30-35. Resist giving some small denomination dollars to pay the "processing" fee of US$1-2 on each side of the border: this is abuse of power and neither necessary nor useful. Just be quiet, polite and patient! They actually ask you without shame to pay an additional US$ 2 to stamp you out and again to stamp you in (both sides). This is not the case at other border places (jan /13).