Kratie, Koh Pdao and the Mighty Mekong in Cambodia

The further you delve “off the beaten track” in Cambodia, the clearer the culture and local ways of life become. Tourism has developed some parts of Cambodia, but strong strains of the local culture and way of life remain the same as when the ancient Khmer Kingdom occupied Angkor Wat.

Venturing out from the capital city of Phnom Penh, four hours east to the town of Kratie travelers soon leave behind the hustle and bustle of traffic, concrete buildings and brand names. Shadowed by the mighty Mekong River, Kratie is very much a fishing town with modest houses lining the road into the town.

off the beaten path - IMG_5825 - Cambodia

Stuck in the middle of the Mekong is the small Island of Koh Pdao. Here, there are no roads, just some small tracks for horse and cart. This small river locked island is rich in culture with each small village of about 60 residents having its own rituals, cultural distinctions, food recipes and customs. Just walking or cycling through this area travelers can meet some friendly people who take such an interest in foreigners, and who are happy to invite guests into their home. One can often hear the sound of young students asking, “what is your name?”

Dolphin - IMG_5861 - Cambodia

This part of Cambodia is so tranquil and peaceful that it is also home to some of the most elusive and mystical mammals in Southeast Asia. The Irrawaddy dolphin, a rare species that is slowly being depleted calls this mellow part of the Mekong its home.

The Island of Koh Pdao is only accessible by boat. It is possible to take a detour from the main river channel into smaller side streams where you can spot a variety of birdlife and see some small-scale rural fishing.

Koh Pdao and Kratie are home to some great sustainability projects looking to preserve the local ways of life as well the natural environment. Although very much off the beaten track, Koh Pdao and Kratie have much to offer in terms of peace, exploration, cultural awakening and social projects. Be sure to visit soon, as who knows how long this backwater gem will remain “off the beaten track.”

For more information and booking requests about Kratie, Koh Pdao, Irrawaddy dolphins, Cambodia cultural sustainability and the Mekong River, please contact