Virochey National Park, Tonle San River & Beyond

To get to the various sights in this area, head west from Banlung to a big fork in the road that has a large painted sign in English (the fork is 8 km from the Independence Monument). The sign says that the road to the right takes you to Taveng, 67 km away (that?s from town, not from the sign). Following this road for a few kilometers brings you to a large clearing on both sides of the road. You soon notice that this is an ancient lava field where the flow followed the down ward slope of the area and left the cooled volcanic rock in its wake. The forest surrounding the entire area is honeycombed with footpaths that the hill tribe people of the area use to gather their various bounties from the jungle. It?s possible to hike off onto these trails and come upon individual hill tribe homes scattered about.

Virochey National Park, Tonle San River & Beyond - Rattanakiri
Virochey National Park, Tonle San River & Beyond – Rattanakiri

Just keep track of your direction, as it?s easy to get turned around and lost back there. Continuing on toward Taveng, the road condition worsens and is not suitable for a rainy season journey. If it?s the dry season and you are keen on an adventure through some pristine countryside, it?s possible to go all the way to Taveng and cut back on the small river road to Virochey. You could take in the activities there and complete the triangle journey by heading back to Banlung on the other road from Virochey.

The road to Virochey (going left from that fork 8 km Banlung) is definitely the better of the two roads and can be used during the rainy season as well. Virochey is just under 37 km north west of Banlung. As you approach the town, you will see the Virochey National Park headquarters on the left. They sometimes have an English ? speaking ranger there who can give you a bit of information about the area.

Continuing further along the road, you will come to the end of the line- the Tonle San River. There are cheap food and drink stands there and they also have fuel. Across the road is a local general store with clothing, fishing boat accessories and other gear. This is the place to inquire about renting a boat to take you northwest on the Tonle San River toward Laos. The river is very clean and the boat ride is scenic so it makes for a fun trip to follow the river for a swim and some photos. You will see and can stop at a temple on the south bank of the river. Fishermen working the river with nets from small boats, and the mountains ahead in the not too far distance complete the picturesque scene. There are several sandbars along the way if you want to stop for a swim. The cost of the motorized boat and driver is US$ 10.

The beach and boat landing area are just behind the food stands where you reached the town. It’s a gorgeous and extremely wide white sand beach and also makes a good spot to cool off in the clean river. There is a small boat there that serves as a ferry, taking people across to the Chinese and Lao village on the other side. It’s 200 riel per person and 1,000 riel for a Honda Dream (if you rented one in Virochey). It’s an interesting village to hike or motorbike around. From the food stand area, it?s also possible to motorcycle down about 1,5 km to the riverside temple.