Kratie is a city in eastern Cambodia and the capital of Kratie Province. It has a population of approximately 28,000 (2019).
It is a quiet city on the Mekong River, but attracts tourists as a spot where Irrawaddy dolphins can be seen.
We spent two nights in Kratie.
Exploring Koh Trong, a sandbar in the middle of the Mekong River
The city of Kratie is located on the Mekong River, and one of the main attractions is Koh Trong Island in the middle of the Mekong River.
The ferry port is located approximately 1km north of the centre of Kratie’s market and bus station. A one-way trip to Koh Trong cost 1,000 Riels per person.
Boats frequently travel between the town of Kratie and the sandbar. I think the boat ride lasted about 10 minutes.
At this time, it was the dry season and the river level was low, so we got off the ferry and walked along the sandy beach to reach the island. The walk would obviously be less in the wet season.
The island has been developed as a tourist destination and there are several homestay-style accommodation options. This good work was done by a community based NGO who are trying to develop sustainable tourism on the island There is a bike rental shop right next to the landing stage. Bicycles can be rented here (USD 2 per day) for cycling around the island.
It seems to be about 10 km around the island. We had been cycling for the two previous days and our backsides were sore, so we decided not to cycle that day and walked around the island instead.
The villagers are very friendly, and when you say ‘Sousdei’ (hello in Khmer), they greet you with a friendly smile.
Pomelos are widely cultivated on the island and are growing everywhere. Mango trees were also everywhere and it being the mango season were impressively numerous.
Most of the little road around the island is concrete and great for cycling. We visited here once before, six years ago, and rented bikes to get around.
This time we walked around the island anti-clockwise after arriving at the landing, but there are not many places to eat, especially on the eastern side of the island. Some homestays offered fried rice, but at USD 3 for an egg fried rice, we felt it was a bit expensive for Cambodia and decided against it. Normally 75 cents to 1.50.
Just a little after we started to go around the western side of the island, a woman selling snacks passed by on a motorbike and we bought some food from her. Vietnamese spring rolls were 1,000 Rials each and vermicelli salad was 3,000 Rials.
It was enough to kill the hunger for a while…. After walking a bit longer, we found Koh Trong Cafe opposite Homestay 4.
Fried rice for 5,000 Rial and iced coffee for 3,000 Rial was reasonable, so we had these. You will quickly find this cafe if you went clockwise from the boat landing.
On the way back, we took the ferry again back to Kratie.
We went to the island the day that we arrived in Kratie by shared taxi from Kompong Cham. We left the guesthouse at about 11:00 am and returned at 4:00 pm, so enough for the first day’s half-day sightseeing.
Visit to Irrawaddy dolphins
Irrawaddy dolphins (Mekong River dolphins) live near the town of Kratie and watching them is one of the main tourist activities in this town.
The dolphins’ main habitat is 16 km north of Kratie town along the Mekong River, from where boat tours are offered.
Alternatively, canoe tours can be taken from the town of Kratie.
You can also take a tuk-tuk to the boat ramp, but we decided to rent a bicycle and cycle there.
In fact, when we visited Kratie six years ago, we cycled to the boat pier and visited the dolphins by boat in the same way.
Unfortunately, the bike rental shop we used back then was no longer in business, but we were able to hire bicycles from Heang Kanha Guesthouse. There were no Asian classic bicycles, but mountain bikes which were in poor condition. You pay for what you get :)… USD 2 per day.
I was thinking it might’ve been better to across to Koh Trong by ferry to rent bicycles from the shop next to the landing! My back and arse were sore in no time.
The road to the Irrawaddy dolphin viewing boat ramp was partly under repair and even when paved, the road was pretty bumpy.
The boat pier for dolphin tour is reached by following the Mekong River northwards for 16 km. Boat fares are USD 10 per person for 60 minutes; the more people, the cheaper the per person fare.
We did not take the boat this time as we had taken the boat to see dolphins six years ago, but we were able to see some dolphins for free from the boat landing.
Phum Sambok Pagoda
Phum Sambok Pagoda is located on the way to the dolphin viewing boat pier, 93 metres above sea level.
The entrance staircase has 160 steps, but the view over the Mekong River is spectacular.
Cycling along the Mekong River
On the second day in Kratie, we cycled along the Mekong River to the dolphin viewing boat pier, stopping at Phum Sambok Pagoda on the way.
The taste of sugarcane juice is addictive, as it was in Kompong Cham. The sugarcane juice here is mixed with a small amount of freshly squeezed orange juice, which gives it an exceptional flavour. Well chilled with plenty of ice, the sugarcane juice orange flavour is the perfect drink after a sweaty day of cycling.
Bicycle tyres can get easily get punctured while riding on the roads in Cambodia . Luckily there are many bicycle and motorcycle repair points along the road. I gave them 4,000 riel (US $1) for the repair and they were very happy.
We also bought some delicious mangoes under a mango tree and headed home.