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Trip Report New road from Siem Reap to Rattanak Kiri

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Update: went again to Rattanak Kiri a couple of weeks ago; this time driving a totally unsuitable motorbike, which I highly recommend!

There is a new road connecting Siem Reap to Rattanak Kiri (Banlung). it goes past Bang Melea, Koh Ker, Preah Vihear and then ferry across the Mekong at Stueng Treung. Paved all the way, not much traffic, very nice road. At the moment, only mini vans are plying the route as the busses cannot do the Mekong ferry crossing. There's a bridge under construction and when that is finished, I'm certain LOTS of tourists will be doing the trip.

GO NOW!

I hear the mini van is quite comfortable: 6-7 hours one way (they will tell you 5 but that's ridiculous). A far sight better than the 14-18 hour bus ride. If one was to rent a private car, stops could be made at all those places along the way, of course costing quite a bit more than the $35ish price of a seat in the minivan.

Here's a short video of the experience. Two words sum it up this time of year: Hot. Dusty.

http://vimeo.com/89770093

We took a side trip up to the Laos border where the Mekong comes crashing in, just stunning. Made the border crossing into Lao and to Don Det which was nothing special. Drove all over the jungle in and around Banlung, swam in a beautiful crater lake with blue water (quite a treat in Cambodia) Stayed at Treetop just outside of town and took every meal there because the food is terrific. Road bikes to Sekong river and went upriver about 2 hours to see some Jarrai tribal cemeteries. A big bonus was that it's avocado season and for someone who hasn't had one in a while, that was a bit of a highlight :)

All in all an excellent trip. Even in hot season.

If anyone does have a mind to go there on motorbike, I can highly recommend Khmer Ways, who organizes motorcycle excursions all over the country. (Disclaimer that we didn't use them but if I needed to rent a bike, that's the outfit I'd use.)

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