A friend and I wanted to check out how far the main roads have been completed in north-west Cambodia.
We also wanted to see if we could cross into Laos from Cambodia. We entered Cambodia at Poi Pet and exited Laos at Pakse.
All you need to ride your bike into Cambodia is your passport, a passport photo and the bike's green book. You have to own the bike or bring an authorization from the owner. VISA on arrival is available.
Download POIs and tracks for GPS (.gpx) or Google Earth (.kmz)
The numbers written in superscript in the text are references to these files. The Google Earth file shows where all the pictures were taken.
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All roads and POIs mentioned in this text are updated to OpenStreetMap
Before we entered Cambodia at Aranaypratet/PoiPet01 we went to see Sdok Kok Thom02. This temple turned out to be a little gem. No other people inside the site and no fees. This temple is in very nice condition. It has been restored to some extent with addition of new building stones in places.
After the temple we entered at Poi Pet. This time we asked for the computer forms at Thai customs but they said they can not issue them!? See the end of my last ride to Cambodia.
Then onto Sisonpon where we stayed at Bo Toum Hotel03. $15 for an A/C room with TV, hot shower and fridge.
This guesthouse is next door to a place04 selling Anchor beer towers for $5.
The restaurant in the guesthouse was under construction, actualy only a hole in the ground, so we got some food pretty much next door at Phkay Restaurant05. The food was not very good.
Then north on 56 up to Banteay Chmar temples06, bad bumpy and dusty road all the way.
At Banteay Chmar temples they charged us $5 to enter, Cambodians enter for free. We also noted that there are few if any options to stay here over night.
Drove on to Samrong, the road was bad and dusty the whole way. We spent the night at Choeun Prakkap Hotel07 in Samrong. The place seemed new. $15 for an A/C room with TV, Wifi, hot shower and a small restaurant seemed good. The wifi was broken, the restaurant had no English menu and noisy construction work started behind the building at 07:30 next morning. If you come here, you may want to look at Oddamratha Guest House08 instead.
Checked out 68 going south and it was good asphalt. We turned around and went north on 68 up to Osmach and the border crossing09 there. The road was all paved. Very different from last time I was here and it was a dirt track. We also noted three guest houses in Osmach.
Then to Along Veng and PolPot's cremation site10 at the Choam border crossing next, the road was new asphalt all the way. They are constructing a big hotel, maybe with a casino. Will this become an international crossing? There was a guard at PolPot's cremation site that wanted $2 for us to have a look. Hard to say if the view of a pile of ash was worth the $2. It pleased me that this site is in bad shape because it indicates that Pol Pot does not have many supporters anymore. Looks like not more than $50 was spent on this memorial.
Interesting cliff11 on the way up to the border.
Then on to Sra Aem village and Prasat Preah Vihear12 which sits on a cliff on the edge of the Khorat plateu. At the bottom of the cliff they asked us for tickets.
We had to double back to a school13 to get tickets that were free, strange. Then up the hill, a 500 meters climb. They have improved the first half of the road up the hill by taking out the turns a bit so it is less step. It is all paved except for the last 500 meters.
Nice view from here.
Then down again, slow in first gear. Stopped at the "ancient stairs"14 leading up to the top.
New stairs have been built next to the old ones.
We spent the night in Sra Aem in Reaksmey Sokun guest house15. This guest house was just built. They charged $16 for an A/C room, with TV, fridge and wifi. The power went on and off, the drain in my shower was clogged, the wifi did not work, the restaurant was not finished. On the upside you could park inside the lobby over night. If you come here in the near future before they are up to speed you may want to check out the two places next door.
Last time I was in Sra Aem it was all dirt roads and no guest houses or nothing, just a three way crossing and some shacks. Today they have pavement, guest houses, places to eat and gas stations. This is welcome in my book because it makes seeing Preah Vihear very simple.
Then to Tbeang Meanchay/Preah Vihear City on 62, all good asphalt. Drove past where the road to Stung Treng starts16 to have a look at 62 towards Kampong Thom, it was good asphalt. Drove back to where the road to Stung Treng starts16. It could be a good idea to fill your tank here at a Tela station because this was the last proper gas station until Stung Treng. We did not and had fill up from a barrel. The road to Stung Treng was under construction but the dirt was mostly smooth and soon to be paved with some bridges being built that you bypass around.
In Stung Treng they are building a bridge over Mekong17 but it will not be done for another two years the workers told us.
We took this mini ferry18 to get over a small river to get to the ferry across Mekong.
Ferry over Mekong19.
This is the bridge over Mekong in progress seen from the ferry.
This is the bridge going north from Stung Treng crossing a river feeding Mekong, also seen from the ferry.
Checked in at Sun Tha Restaurant and Guest House20. $13 for an A/C room with TV, hot shower and Wifi. First impression of Stung Treng is was not very good, the place seemed filthy with garbage laying around on the streets. When the road from Preah Vihear city is paved and the bridge is open I don't see any reason to stop here unless the town is cleaned up by then.
Had a look at the construction of the new bridge from the east side.
Drove north to the border to Laos21 on 7, road all paved. Pooked around on the Cambodian side for a deal on a boat to see the Mekong dolphins. They wanted $20 on the Cambodian side22. We passed it up as I have seen them before. This border crossing have new buildings in progress. Some old shacks looking like caravans were in use at this time however.
Crossed the border. It was very easy. Stamped out from Cambodia. Got VISA for Laos, stamped in, done deal. VISA was $31 for Swedes and $30 for Germans. Strange enough they did not care to even see the books for our bikes. I think this was the most hassle free entrance to Laos with bike I ever done. Checked for a boat to the dolphins on Laos side23, price was now down to $12. Passed it up and drove to Khong Phapheng Waterfall24 which is not far north from the border. This waterfall is better described as big rapids.
Drove to Pakse and got food at Delta Cafe25, good food at reasonable prices. They got WiFi too. After asking around we checked in at Dao Vieng Hotel 226, pretty well maintained place. 100.000 kips, about $12 for an A/C room with TV, fridge, hot shower, elevator and wifi in the lobby which have seating and beverages. No restaurant but Delta Cafe is just up the road. Parking was not very good on the sidewalk but right in front of the reception.
Did a loop to visit some waterfalls. The area east of Pakse has many beautiful waterfalls that puts most of Thailand's in the backseat. My pictures here don't do them any justice. See at least Tad Fane and Tad Yuang if you come here. They shaft you with entrance and sometimes parking fees but they are not very high. The most expensive we visited, Tad Yuang, was 13.000 kips which is less than $2. Sure beats the 400 bath sometimes asked from "guavas" in Thailand.
Tad Fane Waterfall28.
Tad Yuang Waterfall29.
On the way to Katamtok waterfall the pavement ended30 and construction begun. Dusty to say the least.
After Katamtok the dirt went on until we came out on 1632, then it was paved all the way back to Pakse.
Did another loop to visit two more waterfalls.
Tad Lo Waterfall34+35.
I should mention that the waterfalls shown here are not all the waterfalls in this area.
On the road back to Pakse I came across this. I wonder what happened here.
Read this news article in Vientiene Times. The word 'corruption' is not used for some reason.
Crossed the border36 back into Thailand. The crossing was very fast, they did not say anything about the temporary export form from Aranayapret. Drove the long boring way back to Pattaya. From Pakse 750 kilometers.