This remote province is emerging as a major commercial crossroads for trade between Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. It is a forgotten place, but once the roads south are finished, it will once again be properly plugged into the rest of the country. Much of Stung Treng’s traffic travels by water, as several major rivers traverse the province, including Tonle Kong, Tole San, Tonle Srepok and, of course, the Mekong. However, the roads are improving and NH19 east to Ratanakiri is scheduled for an upgrade.
Visitor attractions are extremely limited for now, but as tourism takes off elsewhere in Cambodia, it is possible that boat trips up the Mekong’s tributaries, to places like Seam Pang, will be a different way to see some remote areas. The population of Stung Treng includes several minority groups and the western chunk of massive Virachay National Park, accessible from Siem Pang – two factors that suggest there is some tourism potential as the province’s infrastructure develops. Part of its problem is being sandwiched between Ratanakiri one of Cambodia’s most interesting provinces, and southern Laos, and area rich in attractions – why hang around Stung Treng? Right now, anywhere outside the provincial capital is pretty much the end of the earth.
Stung Treng has experienced a surge in visitor numbers with the opening of the Cambodian – Lao border just 50 km north of town, and while there aren’t a whole lot of reasons to stick around, it makes a sensible overnight stop on the overland route to Ratanakiri. It is a bustling little trading town located on the banks of Tonle San, which flows into the mighty Mekong on the western outskirts of the city limits. Some locals call Tonle San Tonle Kong or Tonle Sekong as these two rivers merge 10km east of town. Chinese contractors are currently constructing a bridge across this river, which will form a key link in the new road between Kratie and the Lao border.