Northeast Cambodia is home to many ethnic minority groups and boasts beautiful landscapes with abundant wildlife.
Unfortunately, remote Northeast Cambodia is often skipped by travelers, who during their limited stay in Cambodia, prefer to focus their time and energy in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. Some might passed by Kampong Cham, Kratie and Stung Treng on their way to the Cambodia Laos border at Dom Kralor. However, few would make the long journey to Ratanakiri or Mondulkiri.
Tucked in the corners of Cambodia, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri are seldom part of the traveler’s circuit. Depending on the road conditions, a bus ride from Stung Treng to Ratanakiri can take up to 10 hours. Similarly, the bus ride from Phnom Penh to Mondulkiri can take up the same amount of time. Onward journeys from these provinces are difficult because of the lack of proper road infrastructure. Visiting these provinces usually means returning via the same road taken to reach them.
There is, however, a road connecting Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri. Sometimes, the road is known as The Death Highway. No, it is not named because of heavy traffic or hairpin bends. It is named because of the terrible road conditions and the remote surroundings. In fact, calling it a road is inaccurate. The Death Highway is effectively a cow path with multiple branch-offs, which turns from soft sand to a nightmare of muddy trails during the wet season. Because of the narrow paths and the river crossing involved, only motorcycles and ox-carts can traverse the path.
The northeast Cambodia loop looks like a natural progression after my previous rides in Vietnam and Cambodia. As a standalone trip, I can be more adequately prepared by spending more time on trip planning and bringing proper equipment like hiking shoes, full-faced helmet and GPS receiver. Lonely Planet Cambodia discourages ‘the average traveler’ from attempting The Death Highway. Sounds like one more reason to take the plunge.
The Northeast Cambodia Loop trip report is divided into thirteen parts:
- Introduction (You are here)
- Journey, Day 1 & Day 2 (Part 1)
- Journey, Day 2 (Part 2)
- Journey, Day 3
- Journey, Day 4 (Part 1)
- Journey, Day 4 (Part 2)
- Journey, Day 5
- Journey, Day 6
- Journey, Day 7
- Journey, Day 8-9
Disclaimer: This trip was taken in December 2006. The information is provided ‘as is’ with no warranties and confers no rights. Please feel free to post a comment.