Tucked away in the far northeast of Cambodia is the unique, rarely visited region of Ratanakiri. The area has a rich culture and is home to a number of minority ethnic tribes famous for their traditional ceremonies and burial practices. Chinese, Vietnamese and Laotian communities can also be found in the area. The villagers live in simple hand made stilt houses and agriculture is the main source of income. The region is also one of the poorest and most underdeveloped in the country where highways are simple pot holed dirt roads and electricity and running water supplies are a rare commodity. It is possible to visit charitable projects in the area where you can purchase high quality local handicrafts and locally produced coffee to do your bit to help. Or you may visit a local school where any donation is a great way of helping the poor of this remote region educate their children.
Ban Lung, also known as “the red town” due to the red earth roads, is the provincial capital of the Ratanakiri region and the only place with an operational airport, so hence the entrance or exit point for most visitors. It is also home to the only non backpacker style accommodation, the handsome Terres Rouge Guesthouse. It was formerly the quarters of the local governor and is a delightful mix of French and Cambodia in design and furnished with dark woods and local handicrafts. As well as air access you can reach Ban Lung via a rather uncomfortable rutted road from Phnom Penh or, for the very adventurous, an exciting boat journey from southern Laos.