Stung Treng (also Stoeng Treng, Khmer: ស្ទឹងត្រែង) 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 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.
Hwy 7 to Kratie is fully paved, but heading north to the border with Laos it's in very bad condition (as of June 2019), alternating between stretches of pavement, stretches of gravel, and stretches of bumpy former pavement.
It's no problem to do the trip by bus/minibus in either direction. Every guesthouse will sell you a ticket. 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 1½hr, while it's a 4-5 hr 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.
Travelling by truck from Kratie is also an option, and will cost 20-25,000 riel for riding in the back of the truck, and 25-30,000 riel to ride in the cabin. It is somewhat less safe than other modes of transport, and can take much longer, but puts you in much greater direct contact with the locals.
A new bridge was completed in August 2014 to the west side of the river. The road to Preah Vihear / Anlong Veng is unsealed for the road 64 part. After that it's very nicely sealed all the way. Be warned there are long stretches without gasoline so top up frequently.
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 rushing 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 but don't plan on a week. 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.
Stung Treng Province is a beautiful place with some historical value as well. The Ramsar site to the north that connects to Laos is a real treat to explore and several (nearly extinct) Irrawaddy dolphin pools surround this charming provincial town. Furthermore several NGO's such as Tourism for Help and Mlub Baitong are active in the region and welcome any kind of support from travellers 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 4,000 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.
There exists a weaving co-operative towards the north end of town, which warrants a visit for the lovely fabrics and patterns they produce.
- 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, eco-tourism 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 minimising 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.
- Acleda Bank (Near the market). Has an ATM which you can use to withdraw US dollars. They can change Cambodian riel, US dollars, and Lao kip, but you'll get a better rate from money changers at the market.
- Riverside Restaurant (Opposite the taxi parking lot). Offers good, early morning noodle soup. Dishes are USD1-3. The manager, Mr T, can help organise any transport or tour you might need. They also have rooms from USD6 with large comfortable beds and private bathrooms but no outside window.
- Sophak Mukul Restaurant (Just east of the market). Very popular. The portions are unusually large for a restaurant serving Khmer food, and cost around 3,000 riel.
Most cheap guesthouses can be found at the river front or the street just behind it. Expect to pay US$3 for a small room, however for a few dollars more the hotels below offer much better value for money.
- Sekong Restaurant, ☏ . The most conveniently located place in town, being a short walk from the boat dock. Rooms are a bit dilapidated, but inexpensive on the lower end. USD5-7 (shared bath/private bath).
- Sok Sambath Hotel, ☏ . Well-tended rooms with fans and other comforts that the cheaper places don't have. USD7-15.
- Stung Treng Hotel. Good rooms including private bath and TV. USD6+.
- Tonle Guesthouse (Tourism Training Center), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A traditional Khmer house with four nicely decorated rooms equipped with fans and a terrace with a view of the Sekong River. Serves Western and local foods. USD6.
- Buses to Phnom Penh usually leave at 07:00. 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 USD10-15 Phnom Penh, USD3 to Kratie (2.5 hr).
Border crossing to Laos
Stung Treng is the last major outpost before the Lao border, though there's surprisingly little traffic headed that way. The road to the border, once newly paved, unfortunately hasn't been maintained, and as of June 2019 has devolved into gravel, potholes, and patches of asphalt in many areas, though the majority if it is still okay.
There is no scheduled public transport going only 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). Travelers on the public bus from Phnom Penh are collected at the border though.
Lao visas are available on arrival. How much it costs depends on what passport you have, but most are about USD30-35. You will likely be asked for an additional 2 USD stamping fee on both sides of the border, which you may or may not be able to get out of by insisting it's not a real thing.