The Mekong Discovery Trail was a joint project between the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia, SNV Netherlands Development Organization and the UNWTO and it aims to foster sustainable forms of tourism to reduce poverty in the region and to conserve the Mekong River Dolphin.
However, it seems, since its introduction in 2010, the trail has not been taken care of. Guesthouses along the trail are abandoned, signs have disappeared and the official website is offline. In short: nobody seems interested in it.
Anyway, you can still try following the trail, using maps we provide here on this website (see the download links at the bottom of this article). Some guesthouses in Kratie may have the trail’s guidebook, but you’ll have to search hard!
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 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.
Highlights of the Mekong Discovery Trail:
Mekong River Dolphins
The Trail offers many opportunities to view critically endangered Mekong River Dolphins. Less than 100 of these animals are left in the Mekong. Well managed ecotourism is part of the solution to increase their value to local communities and ensure their long-term protection.
Horse Carts in Kratie
Kratie town is famous for its horse carts. The Trail has helped establish a local association of horse cart operators who will conduct tours around the town and north along the Mekong River to the famous Kampi dolphin pool. Travelling by horse cart is a unique way to experience the riverside town of Kratie and its many attractions including the French colonial architecture.
House Boats on the Mekong
A very special way to relax and experience the Mekong River is on a traditional river boat. Sit back and enjoy the magnificent sunsets and sunrises and spectacular flooded forests of the Ramsar wetlands. Buy fish from passing boats and stop at riverside villages to shop in local markets.
Kratie and Stung Treng Provinces are famous for their sticky rice (krolan) and pickled fish (nem), as well as delicious tropical fruits and fresh fish that are included in local dishes. Taste some while you travel along the Mekong Discovery Trail. You’ll find a recipe for the famous Fish Amok in the Trail guide book.
Home Stays and Wat Stays
A very personal way to experience the home life and daily rituals of Khmer villages is to stay in homes or Wats. Home stays and Wat stays are available at several places along the Trail. The Trail guide book provides a few tips about etiquette to make it easier to connect with the local cultures.
One option along the Mekong Discovery Trail caters especially for experienced and intrepid mountain bike riders who are prepared for an ‘off the beaten track’ experience.
You will travel through some of the least disturbed and most remote parts of the Mekong, and stay overnight in guesthouses and home stays in rural villages along the way.
Trekking in the Forests
There are opportunities to trek through fringing forests that line the banks of the river, and to enjoy wonderful views over the maze of islands and braided river channels north of Stung Treng.
A local guide will assist with navigation and make the experience so much richer.