North East Cambodia and Southern Laos

Site seeing tour of Kratie, Sen Monorom, Banlung and Attapue.

All you need to ride your bike into Cambodia and Laos 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. Laos sometimes requires an official English translation of the bike's green book, "Vehicle Registration Certificate", but not on this route.

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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

December 29th 2013 Sunday

An uneventful ride to Poipet border01 with the exception of my Zumo hung up. I made a master reset with the loss of the first part of my track log as result. Everything went smooth at the border until we had stamped into Cambodia. There was a long line so we paid 100 bath extra for "express service". Then all of a sudden the guards told us that we had to get approval from customs before they could let our bikes in. We walked to the customs02 and they flat refused to let us ride in. We went back to our bikes and talked to the guards again. After paying $20 they let us in with a big smile. This may be a new way to extort bribes. Send the rider to customs where they get rejected and then collect a mighty bribe to over-ride customs rejection. Headed towards Sisophon as we think it is a better place than Poipet to spend the night. Half way we noted a paved road going north that I have not seen before. We followed it and it took us to a local border crossing03 north east of Poipet.

258D, funky road number.

On to Sisophon and checked in at Botuom Hotel04. $8 for a fan room with fridge, WiFi, TV and hot shower. Their restaurant is still under construction.

Food at Red Chilli05, Lok Lak and some bottles of beer for two came to $20. Beer next door06 to the hotel, $8 for one tower of Anchor and 4 bottles of Cambodia beer, hard to beat.

December 30th 2013 Monday

Food at a local restaurant07 down the street. Rice and pork for $1, hard to beat.

Bought a local SIM card at Cellcard08 for $1. You have to ID yourself to buy unlike in Thailand. Paid $2 extra to get internet access. Had a look at road 56 towards Bantany Chamer to see if it had been improved but it was just as bad as the last time here. Then towards Siem Reap. The last rain season must have been hard on the road because it was broken and under construction in places.

When in Siem Reap we checked in at Millenium Guesthouse09, $17 for an A/C room with hot shower and TV. $12 for a fan room with cold shower.

Across the street you find The Dancing Frog restaurant10.

Happy pizza11 on sale for $4.

Pub Street12, will be handy for new years eve.

December 31th 2013 Tuesday

Checked out the Angkor Wat view balloon13. It is not in service for time being.

Track along the big ancient reservoir, Baray Teuk Thla14.

Baray Teuk Thla14.

Getting out to the east was a bit tricky.

Highway 67 runs a new route here, wider and bypassing settlements.

View from Phnom Krom15, as far up as we got. To go all the way up you need tickets.

New Year's eve at X-Bar16. Don't eat here. At least some of their food they buy from the street and sell it to you for triple the price.

January 1th 2014 Wednesday

New Year New Ride. This used to be 67.

Road to Phnom Kulen Park17. They want $20 from foreigners to drive in. Passed that up.

The road connecting 67 and 65 is now paved. Do not know the road number.

Drove north on 65 and it is now paved all the way to Koh Ker18, Cambodia's pyramid. From there on the road is paved all the way to Preah Vihear City. Once the bridge19 over Mekong in Stung Treng is open it will be a nice route to go from Siem Reap to Laos or Banlung this way.

On the way back I turned on to this dirt road to look for an alternate (cheaper) way up Phnom Kulen.

Checked this trail which on OSM leads to a foot path20 up Phnom Kulen.

It did go to a foot path20 that is in part over grown and does not look inviting for motorcycles. Passed that up.

Went to look for a missing piece of route 66. This is one end of it.

Looks good.

Looks like old pavement21. Must be on right track.

This bridge was scary.

Not much of a track here and not in expected place.

This is better but also in wrong place.

A new dirt road going north. I ride it but do not see any track where the old route should have been. Leave it at that. At least I found some old pavement remains21:-)

January 2th 2014 Thursday

Headed on out towards Kampong Cham with a quick stop at the main gate and ticket office22 for Angkor wat. We wanted a plain tourist map and they wanted $5 for that so we said no thanks. Angkor wat sure is a tourist trap, they nickel and dime you into the poor house. Headed out on the main highway 6. Made a stop at Spean Preah Toeus bridge23. You can still see this bridge for free. It is the longest of all Angkorian bridges. You can cross it on bikes but not with cars.

6 towards Kampong Thom.

Santuk Mountain24. They had put up a ticket stand there too. $2 for foreigners and 1000 Riel ($0.25) for Cambodians.

The usual at the top.

The view from the top was nice.

The road up was fun but short.

Made another stop at a dam but as we approached a boom was lowered over the road and sure there was a ticket boot25 there too. $2 they wanted but we turned that down and proceeded to kampong Cham. As soon as we drove off they opened the gate again. 71, nice paved road with little traffic.

Bridge26 over Mekong.

Checked in at Mekong Hotel27, $8 for a fan room with hot shower, wifi, fridge and a miniature TV. The place is a bit run down but good enough.

Mekong Crossing28 had some pretty good food.

This must be a smoker's paradise.

January 3th 2014 Friday

Had a look at the bamboo bridge29 to an island in the Mekong. It was broken so could not ride it :-(

Next was to try the road going to Kratie along Mekong's eastern bank. First thing we came across was some old lots tower30 I suppose.

It was a small dirt road under construction in places but good enough for the most.

From this ferry landing31 the road improved with pavement and all.

Old bridge.

New one in the making.

Checked in at Heng Heng32 in Kratie, $10 for a fan room with hot shower, WiFi and TV. For $5 more you get A/C. You can park your bike inside at night.

Red Sun Falling33 offered good enough food.


January 4th 2014 Saturday

Phnom Sambok34.

Good view if you can find a place without trees blocking.

Headed north to see the Mekong dolphins35. You go by boat and they charge $9 per person. The good news was that you do not have to wait. Your group get a boat straight up and off you go. Don't expect the dolphins to jump out of the water like the trained ones. These just come up for air and you do not see much of them.

Right up the river from the dolphins are some rapids36. As soon as you park they charge you 2000 riels ($0.50) to park.

Then we continued north looking for a turtle conservation.

Kept going north until we got to a broken bridge and figured we must have gone too far.

On the way back south towards Kratie we stopped at 100 pillars temple37.

Once back in Kratie we found out on the internet that the turtles were in the same compound as the 100 pillars temple :-( In Kratie they sell tours to a village called Chhlong38. This village supposedly has an abandoned French colonial settlement. We passed Chhlong on the way to Kratie but did not know of this site at the time. Knowledge is power.

January 5th 2014 Sunday

Breakfast at You Hong Restaurant39 and then we headed towards Sen Monorom.

This house or boat has seen better days.

Some parade area40 in the making in Snoul.

Made a stop at Trapaing Sre Border41. This crossing is international but does not offer VISA on arrival for Vietnam.

A casino of course.

Once passed Chumni42 the road took us into the hills.

View point43 in Sen Monorom.

View from the Hill Top Padoga44.

Disused runway45.

Checked in at Raksmey Arumras Resort46. They had these nice bungalows.

We stayed in these budget ones for $8.

But the cheap ones had the view.

January 6th 2014 Monday

Checked out and moved to Pich Kiri Guesthouse47 because the bungalows did not have enough water pressure to shower :-( This place was not that great either with noise from the slum around the old market.

Central roundabout.

Headed out to look for Sen Monorom's waterfall48. Got on all kinds of roads but no waterfall.

View point43 again.

This place is called "Sea Forrest"49, do not know what the attraction is supposed to be.

Sen Monorom is bigger than I had imagined, it is a bigger town and not some kind of village. There are plenty of guesthouses here. Sen Monorom only has one ATM50 and it does not take Mastercard but VISA. Not much night life but we found that Bopha Eisan Restaurant51 doubles as nightclub and is open to midnight with beer pitchers for $3. Power outages are frequent. A small LED flashlight in your pocket after dark is a good idea.

January 7th 2014 Tuesday

Finally found Sen Monorom waterfall48, turned out to be easy to access from town, paved all the way. Not very big and not much water. Free on the other hand.

Elephant rides52 at the waterfall.

Another viewpoint53.

Mondulkiri Pizza54.

Drove down to Dak Dam border crossing55 to Vietnam. Very good road and very scenic too.

Dak Dam village56.

Chrey Thom waterfall57. Free but not much water.

Sen Monorom Motel58. Looks like a quiet resort.

Chuncheat House59 is the place if you look for something different. Built like caravans but stylish.

Good view too.

Nature lodge60.

Many activities offered.

Then to Bousra waterfall61. The main road north, 76, is not paved but as soon as you turn right towards the waterfall pavement starts.

5000 riel entrance fee. It has two steps with a stair leading down to a dirty area between the two falls. If you feel cheap you can continue on the road for 100 meters beyond the turn off for the ticket boot and see the waterfall from the top at no cost.

Green house Bar and Restaurant62, supposed to be a good place.

Close to the Green House Bar and Restaurant is Sovannkiri Guesthouse63 run by a nice Aussie guy and his wife. Fan rooms and Western and Khamer food. This is probably a good place to stay for a biker on a budget.

January 8th 2014 Wednesday

Headed out towards Banlung on the main road 76 which is not sealed at all yet. Construction is going on more or less the whole way to Banlung. The road is more completed towards Banlung.

The bridge64 over Song Serepok river is not completed but drivable.

Drove around scooping for a guesthouse, there are plenty of guesthouses and hotels here. The south of the main road is the poorer side. To the east are the nature style places. Ended up checking in at Mitta Pheap Guesthouse65, $12 for an A/C room with hot shower, fridge, TV and WiFi.

January 9th 2014 Thursday

Drove around for site seeing. Reclining Buddha66 on Eisey Patamak Mountain.

View from Eisey Patamak Mountain.

The airport terminal67 has seen better days.

The runway is still good.

Yeak Loam Lake68. 12 times the fee for foreigners.

The lake.

Boring "Cultural Center"69.

Kachagn Waterfall70. You have to buy a ticket. A suspension bridge takes you over the river to the best view point.

Kataeng Waterfall71. You have to buy a ticket. Outside they offer elephant rides72.

Dinner across the street from our guesthouse at Geck's Cafe73. $3 for a pitcher of local beer and an extensive menu. Prices are relatively low despite this being a classy place by Cambodian standard. WiFi.

Cha Ong Waterfall74, found it on the second try. You have to buy a ticket but I came late and the ticketing staff had gone home so it was free.

January 10th 2014 Friday

Headed north out of Banlung on the less travelled route to Laos. The pavement ended pretty soon after leaving Banlung.

Ferry crossing75 at Veun Sai.

On the other side there was a smaller dirt road.

That turned into a sandy track.

Ban Ke Toch Village76, small village but we could get water at least.

Here was a nice part.

Samong Village77. Not very friendly people in this area. Eyeballing us and overcharged us for the ferries.

Ferry78 to take us out of Samong.

Ferry79 over to Siem Pang.

Siem Pang village80.

From here it was pretty good dirt road out to 7.

Crossed the border81 into Laos, very easy. The new buildings are not in use yet. This was a hassle free crossing just as last time.

Checked in at Khonephapheng Hotel82. More of a motel. This place also has a restaurant but they did not have much of food.

January 11th 2014 Saturday

Drove out to have a peek at the new bridge83 under construction to Khong Island in the Mekong.

Wanted to try 18A to Attapue. It started out as an bumpy dirt road but improved a bit further in.

Pretty rocky river crossing84. Looked for an alternate way but found none. We had to get our feet wet.

After that it was straight into this mud. This was actualy easy to cross because the bottom was firm without rocks.

Then one mud hole after the other. Got old fast.

Turned around and tried another track and got out on a brand new road85 under construction. Talked to a construction worker who said we could forget the old road and the new one only runs for a kilometer and dead ends.

We gave up 18A and went back via this ford86.

Back out at 13 the sign for Attapue seems like some kind of practical joke. To top it off I got a big nail in my tire that ripped the tube. At least I had a spare tube with me.

Drove to Pakxe and checked in at Daovieng 2 Hotel87.

January 12th 2014 Sunday

Made it a lazy day in Pakxe. Found this Steak and Pizza place88.

January 13th 2014 Monday

Headed out towards Attapue. From Pakxe to Paksong there is a 1100 meters incline. Because it is even and not steep enough to see you may only notice it from the bike's struggle.

16/16A/7815 Intersection in Paksong.

Checked out 7815 as it had been recently paved at this end but it turned to crap pretty soon.

Took 16A to see how far consctrction has come, so far new asphalt.

Old bridge.

New replacement.

Katamtok Waterfall89.

Some big trees they forgot to cut down and haul to Vietnam.

1L, this is a very nice road.

Bolaven plateau.

Checked in at Phetsoukxay Hotel 290. 100.000 kips for an A/C room, with hot shower, TV and fridge. Beer in Milano Bar107.

January 14th 2014 Tuesday


Some sort of stadium in the making.

Headed east out of town to go look for the Russian missile91 on display. Supposed to be in Paam village according to my paper map.

No signs for Paam nor noted on the mile stones.

But we got a nice asphalt road.

No sign for Paam at this intersection. Little did we know that the missile91 is behind the billboard to the right.

The pavement ended shortly after the last intersection.

Nice views at least.

No sign of Paam village this way so we turned around.

Turned around and tried the road going east.

It took us to some dam construction. No sign of Paam village.

Plenty of this huge grass.

Gave up and drove back to Attapeu. Stayed in Keoxouxab Guesthousexxx, 60.000 kip for a fan room.

January 15th 2014 Wednesday

Compared our track logs to a French couple's printed map with the missile91 marked. It was marked at the intersection in the village named San Xai according to the mile stones. Went back and sure there it was.

This sign says it all.

Bomb fence.

Yepp San Xai it was.

Then direction Salavan.

Turned right on a small road towards Xekong river.

Ferry service92, good to know.

Once again turned right on a small road towards Xekong river.

Yet another ferry service93, good to know.

1L sure is a nice ride.

Ferry service94 in Sekong over Xekong river.

Turned off the main road to the right in Phonh. There was a sign for a waterfall here at one time if I remember right. The road used to be shit but now it is being fixed up. It took us to these sort of rapids95. Maybe that is the waterfall?

Continued on the road in the making. It could be an alternate road to Salavan.

Nice river view.

Pavement, sweet.

What is this? Some sort of resettlement?

Dirt again.

Truck problem.

Passed up a track in direction Salavan. Wanted to see where this road would go.

By comparing our track log to the printed map we figured this must be the way to Ta Oy.

Not knowing the road condition from Ta Oy to Salavan or of any guesthouses in Ta Oy area we turned around and took the track in direction Salavan.

Cool suspension bridge for bikes96.

In Salavan we checked in at Phonxay Hotel97. They have normal rooms in the main building and some bungalows. Paid 100.000 kips for this bungalow.

January 16th 2014 Thursday

Wanted to see the bombed bridge98. They are fixing the road leading up to it.

Ferry service.

Will they scrap what is left of the old one as part of upgrading the road? Would be a shame.

15 between Salavan and Napong is getting an upgrade too.

15 towards Ta Oy. Wanted to see how far it is paved.

This must be where we would have come out yesterday if we had not turned around.

Drove in a bit and it is not too bad on this end either. Can see now we should not have turned around yesterday. Then we would have missed the suspension bridge on the other hand.

Back out on 15, this is a cool road.

15 was paved all the way to the Vietnamese border. The border was packed with logging trucks. Wonder how much jungle leaves Laos here on an average day. Back to Phonxay Hotel97 in Salavan. Stayed in the big house for lack of free bungalows. The rooms in the big house is 120.000 kips but got the bungalow price :-)

January 17th 2014 Friday

Heading back to Pattaya. Tad Lo waterfall99 on the way to Pakxe.

Nice road.

Crossing back into Thailand at Chong Mek100 was very easy like the last time. Only one stop to stamp in and return the temporary export papers.

Sirindhorn reservoir101.

7-Eleven, you don't miss it until it is gone.

Turned off to see Huai Luang waterfall102. It is in Phu Jong Nayoi National Park. Guava price is 200 baht but they let us in for the Thai price of 40 baht on presentation of Thai driver license.

Cool road leading up to the fall.

Not much water. Someone who paid 200 bath to see this would be mad.

This is what it should look like according to their poster.

Towards the Emerald Triangle103.

There was a memorial and a road block104. You are not allowed to go all the way to the border.

Checked in at Reuan Mai Suk Resort105 in Khunhan. I would call this a motel. Great if you go by car.

January 18th 2014 Saturday

Headed home on 224. There was a sign for Cambodia on 224 so turned there to check it out. A local reservoir on the way.

Got to a military border checkpoint106 with moody looking military police so did not take a picture. Passed the checkpoint is this road following the border to the east.

U-turned and went west. The road ended with a mine field and a military installation.

Took this pretty road back out to 224 and then home.