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Exploring Kratie, Cambodia - Watching dolphins on the Mekong River

Posted By : Threeland Travel / Mekong Delta-Travel Tips

Irrawaddy dolphins represent the biodiversity of the Mekong, often seen in the eastern town of Kratie.

Kratie is a small town with a population of about 13,000 people, located on the banks of the Mekong River, with many French-era architectural works mixed with modern architecture. Kratie borders Vietnam's Binh Phuoc province, described as "picturesque", with long stretches of white sand islands. The stretch of river north of town is home to the Irrawaddy, an endangered dolphin species.

In 2007, the Cambodia Mekong Dolphin Conservation Project (CMDCP), a collaboration between the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Fisheries Management Organization and the Cambodia Rural Development Team (CRDT), for There are about 66 to 86 dolphins left on the last section of the 180 km long Mekong River before flowing into Vietnam. This is considered a low number, alarming the high risk of extinction of this species in the world

Information about the Irrawaddy dolphin

The Irrawaddy is a small, shy dolphin, dark gray in color with a pale underbelly, a small rounded dorsal fin, and a straight, round head. It can reach a length of 2.75 m, weigh 150 kg and usually lives in groups of 6. Irrawaddy is one of three species of dolphin that lives in both freshwater and seawater.

Irrawaddy dolphins spend most of their time feeding. They are not active or acrobatic, but sometimes perform low jumps. Irrawaddy typically dives for less than 2 minutes, but dive times are longer when the animal is frightened. The lifespan of Irrawaddy dolphins is about 30 years, and while some individuals reach adult size between the ages of 4 and 6, the specific age of sexual maturity is unknown. Baby dolphins have an impressive growth rate, when born about 1m and 12kg, growing more than 50cm and weighing 33kg in the first 7 months. Females give birth every 2-3 years.

See Irrawaddy dolphins in Kratie

At Kratie visitors can rent a boat to see dolphins. On the boat, you will admire the loveliness of the fish as well as the simplicity of the villages along the Mekong River. Boaters usually know where and when the dolphins will arrive, so you're almost certain to see them.

Throughout the Mekong River from the Laos-Cambodia border to the delta in Vietnam and the Tonle Sap, there were often Irrawaddy dolphins. But dolphin populations and distribution ranges have decreased significantly over the past decades. In the dry season from January to May when water levels decrease, they concentrate in nine deep pools on the 180km stretch of the Mekong River north of Kratie to the Laos border. These lakes provide safe habitat for dolphins to rest and forage, but such populations also make dolphins vulnerable to fishing activities. During the rainy season, dolphins are occasionally seen south of Kratie.

By renting a motorbike, visitors can freely explore without having to plan much. If information is needed, most guesthouses in Kratie are available to help visitors. Besides, the residents here are quite friendly and always ready to help visitors when needed.

Interesting experiences not to be missed

Visit the 100-pillar pagoda

If you want to explore more of Kratie city, don't forget to visit the 100-pillar pagoda located in Sambor district. The special thing about this temple is that there are up to 100 columns built from clay and plaster. To get here, you can travel about 36km north from Kratie town center. The 100-pillar pagoda is a great place to visit to learn about the architecture and history of this land. Besides, you can also feel the peace and tranquility at this temple.

When you come to the 100-pillar pagoda in Sambor district in Kratie, you will admire 4 Buddhist temples facing 4 different directions. 

  • West: Vihear Lao Pagoda
  • North: Vihear Sar Sar Pagoda
  • East: Vihear Kork Keut Pagoda
  • South: Vihear Kork

Read more: Kratie Chronicles: A Unique Cambodian Adventure You Shouldn't Miss

Phnom Sambok Temple

Phnom Sambok Temple is a famous religious site located in Kratie province, Cambodia. The pagoda is located on top of Phnom Sambok mountain, about 11km from Kratie town center. The pagoda is a popular destination for tourists thanks to its beautiful location and stunning views of the surrounding hills and mountains.

To get to the temple, visitors must walk to the top of the mountain by stairs, passing through a quiet forest and the sounds of nature. The pagoda is a beautiful and peaceful place, decorated with traditional Cambodian architecture, intricate stone carvings and colorful paintings.

Phnom Sambok Temple is also famous for its Buddhist monastic school. Visitors can observe the monks' daily lives, listen to their meditation music, and participate in meditation sessions.

Visiting Phnom Sambok Temple is a wonderful opportunity to experience the beauty and serenity of the Cambodian countryside, as well as learn about Buddhism and its role in Cambodian culture.

Take one of Threeland Travel's small group trips to discover Kratie's gems for yourself. Our knowledgeable local guides will unearth hidden gems and share their views to provide you with an insider's glimpse of actual rural living. Contact us today to begin organizing your off-the-beaten-path experiences to popular places like as Cambodia tours, Vietnam tours, Laos, and others that are eager to welcome more people to experience their allure. Allow Threeland Travel to be your key to discovering Kratie's marvels!