Covering the stretch of the Mekong between Kratie and the Laos border north of Stung Treng, the Mekong Discovery Trail is an initiative to get tourists off the beaten track and experience the river’s rich culture, ecology and historical heritage. The so-called “trail” actually comprises ten separate itineraries using existing roads, tracks and waterways – a few signs have been set up along some of the routes, but most of the time you’ll have to find your own way.
The itineraries themselves are something of a moveable feast – most can be explored using a mix of transport depending on what suits, whether on foot, by bike, or using a tuk-tuk or car. A few also include the possibility of an overnight homestay en route. The various routes are covered in more detail in a useful leaflet that you may be able to pick up in Kratie or from Xplore Asia in Stung Treng, who also arrange guided tours around parts of the trail. The following is a brief summary.
Ancient Ruins of Thala Barivat Trail 3km round-trip from Stung Treng to the ancient temple ruins at Thala Barivat.
Bamboo Sticky Rice and Bridges 9km round-trip from Stung Treng featuring Sekong views and krolan (sticky bamboo rice) tasting at Hang Khou Ban village.
Distant Dolphins Trail 40km by bike, or 61km by motorbike from Stung Treng to a beautiful, rarely visited stretch of the Mekong, including the dolphin pool at Damrei Phong, south of Stung Treng, and Koh Preah river island.
Dolphin and Krolan Discovery Trail 16km one way from Kratie, including the dolphin-watching site at Kampie and Phnom Sambok temple.
Koh Trong Island Trail 9km round-trip around the river island of Koh Trong, just outside Kratie.
Kratie Architecture and Alms Trail 7km round-trip tour of Kratie, including the market, Wat Roka Kandal and Wat Serey Santhor Vong.
River Life Explorer Trail 44km round-trip from Kratie, following the little-visited west bank of the Mekong from Kratie to Kampie and beyond.
Stung Treng Silk and Sunset Trail 7km round-trip from Stung Treng, including a visit to the Mekong Blue silk-weaving centre.
Wat Sarsar Mouy and Koh Pdao Trail 35km from Kratie to Sambor, plus 15km around Koh Pdao river island.
Waterfalls, Wetland and Wildlife Trail 57km from Stung Treng to O Svay, including visits to the Sopheak Mitt falls and Anlong Cheuteal dolphin pool.