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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/ minbus in either direction. Every guesthouse 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 1½h, while it`s a 4-5h 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, about 4 km east from the town center there is a 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 is a beautiful place with some historical value. The Ramsar site to the nirth that connects to Laos is a real treat to explore and several (nearly extinct) Irrawaddy Dolphin pools surround this charming provincial town. Furthermore are several NGO's such as Tourism for Help, Evergreen Community and Mlub Baitong are active in the region and welcome any kind of support from travelers 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 4 main rivers (also known as the Mekong plus 3 Area) makes the place for a great river exploration.
- ACLEDA Bank, near the Market, has a Visa system ATM that dispenses US dollars.
- Canadia Bank, just east of the Market, also has an ATM that accepts all cards and dispenses US dollars.
Both banks change between Cambodian riel, US dollars, and Lao kip, but you'll get a better rate from money changers at the market.
- Mekong Discovery Trail, . The Mekong Discovery Trail takes you into the heart of the Mekong where the beauty of the river and the friendliness of the people create unforgettable river life experiences in northeast Cambodia. The Mekong Discovery Trail is a network of safe, ecotourism journeys through some of the most natural and least populated parts of the Mekong. The free trail guide provides maps, transport and accommodation options. You can travel on a small part of the trail, or all of it. You can travel alone or with a group. There are many options along the 180 km trail, which runs between Kratie and the Cambodian/Laos border. But remember to allow enough time to go with the flow of river life. Along the trail, you will have the opportunity to see critically endangered Mekong River Dolphins, while minimizing your impact on them and the habitats they rely on. By using the Trail, you will also be assisting river communities, some of the poorest (but most welcoming) in Cambodia.
- Koh Preah island. on the Mekong, 37 Km south of Stung Treng offers 7 homestays, in a rotation system, at 3$ a night/ person. Coordination by Mr Siam Lom. Mr Theang "+855(0)889099660" is the only guy of the island speaking quite fluent English. He is 24 years old, loves to practice his English. He lives west of the new hospital (under construction), close to one of the only places to have a drink in the village stretch on the western side of the island. He can arrange a 2- hours boattrip to go and see delphins for 20$.
- Riverside Restaurant opposite the taxi parking lot, and offers a great early morning noodle soup. This place also pulls a crowd later in the day because of the tables right on the curb. Dishes are $1-2. The manager, Mr T., can help organise any transport or tour you might need. They also have rooms, but unless you are really trying to save, the other offerings below are better.
- Sophak Mukul Restaurant is just east of the market, and is very popular. The portions offered here are unusually large for a restaurant serving Khmer food, and cost upwards of 3,000 riel.
Most cheap guesthouses can be found at the riverfront or the street just behind it. Expect to pay 3$ for a small room. However, if you can spare two or three dollars, the hotels below offer much better value for money.
- Sekong Restaurant, 074-973762, is the most conveniently located place in town, being a short walk from the boat dock. Rooms are a tad dilapidated, but inexpensive on the lower end. $5-7 (shared bathroom-private bathroom)
- Sok Sambath Hotel, 074-973790, offers well tended rooms with fans and other comforts that the cheaper places don't have. But of course, such extra luxuries come at a greater price than elsewhere in town. $7-15
- Stung Treng Hotel has good rooms including private bathroom and TV starting at 6$ for one with a fan.
- Tonle Guesthouse (Tourism Training Center), ☎ +855(0)92 674 990 ([email protected]). A traditional Khmer house with four nicely decorated rooms equipped with fans and a terrace with a view of the Sekong River. Also serves western and local food (order in advance and come by preference in the weekdays when students are training). $6-8.
- Buses to Phnom Penh usually leave at 7AM. The exact departing place depends on the bus company but is somewhere in the town centre. You can normally get off in any place on the route. A ticket costs 10$ to 15$ Phnom Penh, 3$ to Kratie (2.5h).
- There are no longer any flights from Stung Treng
- You can catch a truck from here to Banlung, which will cost you 15,000 riel in the back of the truck and 25,000 riel in the cabin. From Stung Treng to Kratie, you'll be down 20-25,000 riel in the back, 25-30,000 in the cabin.
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 Febuary 2010 Lao Visa is availible on arrival. How much depends on what passport you are having, but most where about 30 or 35 dollars. Don't bring some small denomination dollars to pay the "processing" fee of 1$ to 2$ on each side of the border, this is corruption and in no way necessary nor usefull Just be quiet, polite and patient!
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