Cambodia: Waterfall hopping in Ratanakiri

We fell in love with the natural beauty of the hidden treasures of Ratanakiri, which are off-the-beaten-track and unbeknownst to the tourist crowds. So, since Ratanakiri is home to stunning waterfalls we decided to do waterfall hopping.

Cha Ong Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Cha Ong Waterfall

We went there during the rainy season and we could only visit 4 waterfalls as some roads were not accessible – very slippery, very muddy. On our way to the falls, I felt like I was traveling back to the earliest beginning of the world when the big trees were kings. We saw a lot of plantations and some impenetrable forest. The air was cold, thick and sluggish, and there was no joy in the brilliance of the sun.

Ratanakiri

The water level of each waterfall was huge and strong, and the sound was impressive. The waterfalls were all gorgeous, refreshing, cool and each one is picture perfect.

If walking through dense jungle and lush green canopies is your idea of fun, then waterfall hopping in Ratanakiri should be on your Cambodia’s bucket list. So to help you on your next adventure, here’s our top 4 best and more accessible waterfalls in Ratanakiri for you to discover.

Ratanakiri

Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall

It has 7 steps and it is located in a deep jungle surrounded by beautiful landscapes. The water flows throughout the year. On the way to the waterfall, you will see villages and mines. You can also visit the zircon gemstones mining company.

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ou’Sean Lair Waterfall in Ratanakiri

Ka Chanh Waterfall

The waterfall is 12 meters high. One of the main attractions there is the suspension bridge right before the waterfall – great photo on the hanging bridge. There were also traditional houses in the area for you to explore. Once there, we got some amazing pictures and truly enjoyed the experience. For us it is the most charming waterfall.

Ka Chanh Waterfall

Ka Chanh Waterfall

Ka Chanh Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

It is about 10 meters high and it’s in an interesting geological formation which has resulted in a cave forming into the cliff that faces both sides of the water. The highlight there is the elephant ride on the top of the waterfall, and feeding and bathing the elephants.

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Katieng Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha ong waterfall is amazing and our favorite because you can go behind and explore a bit – there’s like a huge cave behind the waterfall. It is surrounded by such splendid nature and it is very jungle like.

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

Cha Ong Waterfall

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Cambodia: Great time in Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

For this year’s summer break, we decided not to travel outside the country but to explore the Northern provinces in Cambodia – Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri, for two reasons:

  • First, this year (2018) marks our 10th year here in Cambodia and we hadn’t been there yet.
  • Second, between Disneyland and jungle trekking, hubby and son were more excited about the latter option.

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

We stayed in Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel for a couple of days, located in Banlung amidst tropical greenery. It’s about 20 minutes (depending on the condition of the roads) by a 4×4 off-road vehicle from the city centre. It might be a little far from the city, but that is what makes this place so special – in the middle of the beautiful wild nature, very calm environment and friendly and helpful staff, for a relaxed holiday.

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

We went there last week (still low season; rainy season); luckily, we’ve got the entire resort just all for ourselves. It was very nice and very quiet.

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

The way to the hotel was quite difficult but it could be said to be an adventure. During the rainy season (May to November), sometimes the roads are not passable as it’s very slippery and very muddy. During the dry season (December to April) the road is no problem.

The way to the paradise

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

During our stay, we were given a room with a pool and mountain-view. Our room was cozy and clean. What I liked the most with our room was the balcony, because of the serene view it offered of the surrounding mountains combined with the sounds of the not-so-far-away jungle.

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

This paradise resort is close to the major attractions of the town such as lake, waterfalls, gem-mining (zircon gemstone), and local village. It also offers reasonable prices for the tour to these places.

Yeak Loam Lake, a volcanic crater lake

Waterfalls in Ratanakiri

Waterfalls in Ratanakiri

Every day, after I woke in the morning, I walked around the vicinity and saw all the beauty around. It’s very refreshing! After the family awoke, we had breakfast in the restaurant then we swam in the pool with a view. Later, we started whatever activity we wanted to do for that day.

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

The staff was nice and polite. They helped us with our tours and were always caring. The owner was amazing – friendly and positive. She arranged everything for us – the things we needed and the things we wanted. They ensured that we were happy throughout our stay. They definitely did all their best to help us and made us feel comfortable and at home. I think that’s one thing what made the atmosphere of this place so welcoming and lovely.

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

The food was delicious and I think it has the best cuisine in Ratanakiri Province. They serve both local and western foods. Tea and coffee was free all day!

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

The setting is real paradise – with breathtaking view and positive atmosphere around. After a couple of days, we felt at home; and we were quite sad to leave and wished we could have stayed longer. Throughout our stay, everything we wanted in a holiday was there. Indeed, it was a perfect peaceful getaway.

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

Ratanakiri Paradise Hotel

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • Upon arrival, the hotel offers free pick up from the bus station to the hotel. If you wish to go to the city center, it offers transfer for $3 (one way) since it is quite far away from the town.
  • There was no hot water as it’s not connected to the power supply system, but we managed it.
  • The internet was very slow – or worse – but that didn’t matter at all to us, for who can ask for a good hotel in the jungle, in the mountains, in a far-away-province in Cambodia and then expect perfect wifi?
  • There are organic pepper and Zircon stones available (for sale with a reasonable price) in the hotel. If you wish to get some souvenirs.

Cambodia: 4×4 off-road adventure in Ratanakiri

Before we set off on our trip in Ratanakiri, we didn’t really plan for off-road rides. However, while we were there, we thought that off-roading was such a great way to tour especially in Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri as it really takes you to those hidden beautiful spots, and since we have this attitude of “hell yeah, let’s go!” so, off we went.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

So, after our off-road adventure in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy trails, I thought, I would share our beautiful experience and some of the things I learnt.

Our off-road ride was actually both an awesome and a scary adventure, especially when our car

  • was tilted 30 degrees and still running through muddy roads,
  • was moving sideways,
  • was swaying while gliding through the mud,
  • was a few centimeters away from big deep holes,
  • when our car got stuck in the mud.

It was indeed a bit of an adventure and a great four wheel drive!

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

We went past plantations after plantations. We drove past hills and more hills. We went through the jungle. We visited different waterfalls and some far-flung villages.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

On the first day of our off-road rides, we didn’t get stuck. On the second day, after the heavy rains, we got stuck in the mud, but our driver was able to unstuck our car from mud after about 20 minutes. Then, we rested somewhere in the middle of nowhere. It was quite frustrating but at the same time fun.

Off-roading. Relaxing in the middle of nowhere after we got stuck in the mud.

The second time we got stuck, it took so long for our driver to unstuck our car and the brake was broken, so we had to walk and took the car at the bottom of the hill.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

Three things I’ve learnt about this trip are:

  • Thoroughly check the car before going off-roading.
  • Drive slowly and carefully to avoid skidding on a muddy road.
  • Stay calm and focused. Don’t panic especially when you get stuck in the mud.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

Off-roading in Ratanakiri’s mountains on muddy roads.

We love spending some time off the beaten tracks. We loved the adventure, and we loved the breathtaking scenery. Undeniably, it was the best and the most amazing off-roading experience we’ve ever had.