Yak Loum Lake © Ethan Crowley
Ratanakiri Province is Cambodia's version of the Wild West. Situated in the northeast of the country, along the border with Vietnam, it is slightly inaccessible. This does not deter the more intrepid travellers for whom the extra effort is worthwhile for the stunning natural beauty of the region. Visitors travelling to Ratanakiri will discover lush tropical rainforests, volcanic lakes, pristine waterfalls, and abundant wildlife including Asian elephants, monkeys, guar, and many endangered bird species. The province has slightly cooler weather than most of the country. One of the key tourist attractions is Yak Loum, a perfectly round crater lake with crystal-clear waters, surrounded by dense jungle foliage. The lake is great to swim in and a relatively short distance from the town of Banlung. Also close by is a protected area in the form of the Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary. There are interesting villages to visit which allow for authentic cultural experiences.
Be aware that the roads in this region are not great; they are very muddy during the wet season and covered in thick red dust that makes everyone appear orange in the dry season. Boats are a popular mode of transport for scenic trips. As a destination for the eco-tourist or adventure seeker Ratanakiri is a paradise.