Thursday, September 1, 2011

Yaklom Hill Lodge - the nature lodge in Ratanakiri, Cambodia

Yaklom Hill Lodge, Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia

General Overview:

Hidden in the preserved natural jungle just 4 km east outside Ban Lung on national road 78, Yaklom Hill Lodge offers nature loving travelers - something truely different from the rest of Cambodia! Fifteen wooden bungalows sit in the forest - a work of efforts in naturally regenerating forest of over 14 years - where you can have a glimpse of nature during your stay here. For those who look for accommodation in Ban Lung town, please visit Borann Lodge at :

Going to Siem Reap and looking for place to stay and dine? Check out our places (Sawasdee Food Garden & Lodge) in :
 And just 1 hour or so hike from the lodge through a bit of forest, hills, garden and farm, you'll arrive at the Yeaklom volcano lake - the natural swimming pool. Or you may want to take an easy walk one on the main road for just 45 minutes to this lake. This is the place where you can start exploring Ratanakiri and the place to refresh yourself at the end of the day.
Bungalows in the Jungle:

Fifteen rustic wooden bungalows are built on the foot of the hill surrounded by trees. There are 3 single bungalows, 2 double bungalows (each with room of 1 big bed), 7 twin bungalows (each with room of 2 single beds), 1 triple bungalow (with 3 single beds), 1 family bungalow (2 single beds + 1 big bed), and 1 traditional hill tribe house (for up to 8 persons). Each bungalow has fans, attached private bathroom with cold shower, and balcony with hammock.
 Each bungalow has at least 2 windows, each at different side of the room walls, to ensure good air ventilation. At Yaklom Hill Lodge, we are outside the public power grid. 220V AC power is supplied by our generator approximately from 6 pm to 9 pm, during which the 2 communal hot shower rooms are operational.  Candle light is to be used after the generator is turned off.  Candle and lighter are provided at no charge.
See more pictures of our lodge in :

Rates and Reservations:

Room rates per night are as follows :-
1. single occupancy : US$10.-
2. double or twin occupancy : US$15.-
3. triple occupancy : US$20.-
4. family bungalow (4 persons) : US$25.-
5. traditional hill tribe house (8 persons) : US$45.-
*10% discount is offered for long-term stay (1 week or more). 10% discount is offered during stay in the green&fresh period (1 June - 30 September). Please check with us for rates if you come in group.

All rates above include : breakfast, and government tax. Pick up from and transfer back to the bus station west of Ban Lung town costs 8000 riels per person each way (approx. US$2.-).

For enquiry and reservation, please send your email to : with also copy (cc.) to our backup email address :  We will respond to your email as soon as possible. For telephone reservation, please call or text to : +85511790510, +85511725881, or +855976999146 if you call from outside Cambodia. For calls inside Cambodia, just remove +855 and add 0 in front of those above numbers.

In your reservation, please indicate the name of transport you will arrive in Ban Lung, e.g. name of the bus company. This will help us in arranging for pick up.

Facilities//Practicalities/Facts while you stay at Yaklom Hill Lodge:

1. Our "kitchen in the jungle" serves Khmer foods and some of western foods. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available. Vegetarian foods are also available. If you plan to have meal at our place in group, it is better to call us in advance as our place is not close to fresh market!
2. 220V AC power is available between 6pm to 9 pm. Candles are available and provided for use in bed room (2) and in bathroom (1). You can always ask for extra.
3. Two (2) communal hot shower rooms are available and operational when the generator is running (i.e. 6 pm to 9 pm.).
4. For better maneuvering in the night (especially after the generator if off) in the lodge areas, if you can come armed with your torch, that would be helpful.
5. Mosquito repellent : please have it with you when you plan to come to Ratanakiri. Some mosquito in Ratanakiri carry malaria and dengue fever. This is more necessary in rainy season. At Yaklom Hill Lodge, we can supply you with mosquito coil at no charge. (Please be noted that all windows at each bungalow has mosquito screen. Each bed has mosquito net.)
6. There are 3 viewing platforms on the hills in the lodge areas, including one for viewing sunrise, and one for sunset. All three are connected with short nature trails. We highly recommend that you do the walk in one of your morning and/or one evening. This could also be a good "bird walk" for those birders. See below. 
7. Apart from many species of trees in the forest of the lodge, more than 60 species of birds have been sighted. This is a good opportunity for those interested in bird watching. See some of the pictures of these bird in our facebook page ( ).
8. There are also some wild animals in the lodge jungle, i.e. wild pigs, squirells, wild rats, gecko, civet, ..... plus lots of insect, such as fire flies, cicades, etc...

Treks and Tours in Ratanakiri :

Some itineraries may include these below suggestions. Our guides and selected tour operators can also customise the excursion to your requirement -both day-trip and trekking with overnight stay in the tribal village or jungle. Please send us your ideas and we can send you some advice and costs.

Note : Guests do not need to follow the order in this suggestion, or complete all activities on that day. This suggestion serves more or less like the contents you may want to do during your visit to Ratanakiri. Rainy season means access to some areas might be impossible or requiring longer travel time and more cautious preparation. Please check with us for updates. Or you may not want to do any of the following at all, as to relax or to chill out in our lodge may be just enough!

Day 1 – Waterfalls and Yaklom Lake
-Cha Ung waterfall (10 km), and Kachanh waterfall (7 km), rubber plantations, elephant ride from Phume Kateung to Katieng waterfall (entrance fee to each waterfall : 2000 riels)
-relax and swim at Yaklom lake in the afternoon (there is hiking trail around the lake, as well as from behind the ticket booth ending at the second swimming platform), hill tribe boy high house and girl house, visit environment and cultural center by the lake near the third platform  (entrance fee to the lake : 4000 riels)
Day 2 – Voensai District, boat trip to the Tampuan cemetery at Koh Peah village
-visit morning market in Ban Lung, take transport (car or motorbike) to Voensai district o the San river (35 km, northwest of Ban Lung, 1 to 1 and a half hour ), boat to Koh Peah village, visit cemetery (entrance fee to cemetery : 5000 riels)
-lunch in the village, continue to visit Lao and Chinese village, drive back to Ban Lung and go to see the recline buddha on the hilltop just west of Ban Lung behind the local temple
Day3 – Kreung communities in O' chum district
-take transport (motorbike or car) to Kreung villages in O' chum district (about 20 km northeast of Ban Lung, 30-40 minutes), on the way stop over the O' chum hydropower dam and its reservoirs, the volcanic rock field (Veal Romplong Protected Area)
-visit to various Kreung villages in the area : La Ak village in La Ak commune, villages in Poy commune (e.g. Krala, Kres, Kh'meng)
-continue drive to Taveng district (45 km from Ban Lung) on the San river, boat cruise in the San river to visit Preuw communities along San river
Day4 – Tampuan long house and Jorai cemetery in Andong Meas district
-take transport to Andong Meas district (65 km northeast of Ban Lung, 1 and a half to 2 hours++), stop at Katae village in Malik commune (Tampuan tribe) to see the traditional long house
-from Andong Meas district center take a boat (or walk) to see the Jorai cemetery at Dal village by the San river, take the boat back
-on the way back, stop just before a 3-way junction on NR#78 near Borkeo to visit gem mines
Day 5 – the ghost town of Lomphat
-take transport to Lomphat district (35 km, 1 to 1 and a half hours) on Srepok river, visit local temple by the river in the modern day Lomphat, visit to the old site of Lomphat (as the former provincial capital) to see the war ruins of the town (abandoned highschool, the water towers with the bullet scars, etc.)
-in dry season (Feb-Apr) Tat Tay rapids (locally known as Kep Thmey) in Srepok river is the popular picnicking place of locals
Day 6 – Borkeo gem mines and Lumkut volcanic lake
-take transport (car or motorbike) to Borkeo district east of Ba Lung on road#78 (30 km, 1 hour), stop at gem mines just off the main road (road #78), continue to Borkeo market
-continue to the road to Lumpkut volcanic lake (about 55 km from Ban Lung), on the way stop over Jorai villages in Soeng commune, drive to Seda commune (Tampuan/Lao tribe), visit Lumkut lake just past Seda commune
Day7 – Jorai communities in O'yadao district
-take transport (car or motorbike) to O'yadao district east of Ban Lung on road #78 (70 km, 1 and a half to 2 hours), on the way stop at various Tampuan tribal villages
-visit various Jorai villages in O' yadao district

More on what to do:
-Day-trip trekking (half-day to 1 full day) to the nearby villages and Yaklom Lake
-Trekking with village homestay (from 1day/1night to 3day/2night) in the Tampuan and Kreung communities
-Trekking with elephant ride and homestay in Kreung communities (2day/1night)
-Trekking into the community forest (day-trip and overnight) 
-Trekking in the Virachey National Park  MUST be organized through the park office in Ban Lung town. The park's website is :  (It was noticed that this blog is currently down. Check for more info about the park in :   Please also note that the contacts in this web may not be validated.). For trekking in Virachey NP, contact Mr. Vannara (VNP ecotourism warden), telephone : +855889887977, his email :
The park offers various multi-day trekking options (from 2day/1night to 8day/7night and more). Many of our guests stayed at our lodge the first night or the first 2 nights before taking this adventure, and another night or so at our lodge after coming out of the park. PLEASE be noted that all the treks into the Virachey National Park MUST be organized by the park office in Ban Lung town. No hotels/guesthouses are permitted to arrange this. This means that if you ask your hotel to organize the trek into the park for you, they still have to contact the park office.

For some pictures of attractions in Ratanakiri, please visit our Facebook link :

How to get to Ratanakiri :

1. From Phnom Penh

By air : At the time of this update (September 2011), there is no commercial flight from Phnom Penh (or any other place in Cambodia) to Ratanakiri and vice versa.

By bus : Four companies offer bus service between Phnom Penh and Ratanakiri; namely Phnom Penh Sorya Transport, Rith Mony Transport, Ngy Ly Heng Express, and Thong Ly Transport. Departure time from Phnom Penh is 6.45 am and arrival in Ban Lung is around 5.30 pm to 6 pm. Fare 45000 riels per person.With the improving road between Stung Treng and Ban Lung, journey time may be shorter.
Phnom Penh Sorya Transportation Co. Ltd. (Phnom Penh Telephone : 023-210359) operates air-conditioned 45-seater bus. The company's bus station is at southwest corner of the Central Market (P'sa Thmey) on street 217 in Phnom Penh. The bus will make some stops on the way, including stops in Kampong Cham town, and Kratie provincial town for lunch.
Rith Mony Transport runs 45-seater bus between Phnom Penh and Ratanakiri. Bus station in Phnom Penh is near Sydney Shopping Center. Telephone : 089-818737
Thong Ly Transport operates a 45-seater bus. The company's bus station in Phnom Penh is north of Wat Preah Puth Meanbon on road to P'sa Depot (west of Total petrol station), Telephone : 092-278936 012-274620.
Ngy Ly Heng Express also runs a daily 45-seater bus service between Phnom Penh and Ratanakiri. The bus station is near Doemko market. Telephone 012-724096.
All the above bus will stop in Kampong Cham to drop and pick up passengers, and for lunch in Kratie town.
This is the most distant public bus service in Cambodia (covering around 600 km road) passing 4 provinces on the way that offers the most picturesque spots of the country - paddy fields, rivers (including the Mekong) and streams, towns & villages, rubber plantations, fruit orchards, hills and mountains, protected and conservation areas, forests, and so on. Feel the real things in Cambodian ways as you will be travelling with many locals. Get ready with your books for those who might be bored with the variety of scenery.
Tip : For your comfort in this long-day bus trip, when buying the ticket, tell the ticket seller to give you seat number 1,2,3, or 4 (seats in the front row) if possible as these seem to have widest legroom. Avoid seat at the back rows of the bus as it means bumpy ride and more dusty once the bus travels the road between Stung Treng and Ratanakiri - the last 140 km. Bus fares indicated above is the maximum you can find. Refuse if someone sell you more than that. And don't be surprised if you get anything cheaper as competition is quite fierce now among the 4 companies.

By van : Many van companies operate regular van services (14 seater) between Phnom Penh and Ratanakiri : some of them are Bona Transportation (Tel 012-923290). and Bun Rung Transport (Tel 012-684041). Departure time from Phnom Penh is at 6.30 am and fare 50000-60000 riels. 9-10 hours. Ask your guesthouse/hotel to assist in the booking. The van companies may be able to pick you up from hotel if arranged in advance.
By taxi : Direct Phnom Penh-Ratanakiri taxi (and vice versa) is virtually unavailable now. Most of the former taxi drivers have gone for the van!

By bus with overnight stop in Kratie or Stung Treng provinces : For those who want to break the journey between Phnom Penh and Ratanakiri, and see attractions on the way, making stop and spending a night (or nights) in Kratie or Stung Treng is recommended.
Bus to Kratie : Take a morning bus of several companies to Kratie . The bus to Kratie should arrive around 1-2 pm, so you will have time to see the dolphins at Kampi viewing site (just about 13 km north of Kratie town). If you want to continue by bus to Ratanakiri the next day, make sure you buy the ticket as soon as you arrive in Kratie.. The (Phnom Penh-Ratanakiri) bus will normally arrive, drop passengers in Kratie town, and depart Kratie for Ratanakiri around noon, so you will have about half a day to see more in Kratie, including a stroll on the Mekong riverside.
Bus to Stung Treng : will arrive Stung Treng town at around 3-3.30 pm. Take a short motorbike ride just north of town on the airport road to visit the Mekong Blue Project. This project helps in training women in handicraft skills, including silk weaving; and education. Available onsite is a small cafe and souvenir for sale. From Stung Treng to Ratanakiri in the next day morning, take the regular van which is parked at the bus station on the Mekong riverside, or bus in the afternoon. It is recommended to book seat in advance as the van may be full early.

By speed boat : At the time of this update (September 2011), there is no speedboat services between Kampong Cham and Kratie/Stung Treng.

2. From Stung Treng

By air : Currently, there is no air connection between the 2 cities. (There is no scheduled air service from Phnom Penh to Stung Treng either.)

By bus : Rith Mony (and probably Phnom Penh Sorya) bus is so far the only company that its Phnom Penh - Ratanakiri bus stops by Stung Treng (around 3.30 pm). So if you are travelling from Lao and arriving in Stung Treng, you can connect with this bus. Approach the company's ticket counter on the riverside (near the bus station) as soon as you are in Stung Treng.

By van Van (14-seater) for Ban Lung (station on the river front) normally depart Stung Treng in the morning. Fare 25000 riels per person. Journey time from Stung Treng to Ban Lung is about 2.5 to 3 hours (in dry season) on the unpaved 147 km road. At this time of update, road between Stung Treng and Ban Lung is under construction and is more reasonable. Try to book in advance.Don't be surprised that the van you take can be over-crowded with more than 14 passengers!

3. From Kratie

By bus : You can catch the Phnom Penh-Ratanakiri bus which will stop over Kratie town to drop and pick up passengers (around mid-day). Check with the bus companies' offices in town or ask your hotel.

By van : 14-seater Van departs Kratie to Ban Lung every morning (certainly like in other parts of Cambodia when it is full). Road between Kratie and Stung Treng is paved and most parts now are in good conditions. The journey takes about 5 to 6 hours between Kratie and Ban Lung on 250 km ride. Fare 30000 riels per person.

3. From Siem Reap

By air : You can take first morning flight of Cambodian Angkor Air to Phnom Penh. Evening flights are also available.  You will have to spend a night in Phnom Penh to continue with overland travel the next day. For travel overland from Phnom Penh to Ratanakiri, please see above.

By boat : Speed boats leave Siem Reap dock at 07.00 a.m.. (fare US$25.-, 5 hours). Need to stay overnight in Phnom Penh. Then see From Phnom Penh above.

By bus :Through Tickets from Siem Reap to Ratanakiri in one day : Phnom Penh Sorya bus office in Siem Reap have been operating with this kind of ticket. It has been that departure from Siem Reap is at 5.30 am in the morning by 35-seater bus, with the change to bus to Ratanakiri somewhere in Kampong Cham province, and arrival in Ratanakiri at about 6 pm.You may also want to take a direct bus from Siem Reap to Kampong Cham and  spend a night here, and take a passing Phnom Penh-Ratanakiri bus in the next day morning.

4. From Mondulkiri

-Many of our guests did make successful direct trips from Sen Monorom (the provincial capital of Mondulkiri province) to Ban Lung. Transport was still limited to motorbike. It is more possible in the dry season. Some guests drove by themselves on the big bike (250cc up), and some rented motor bike with driver. The cost of renting bike with driver is about USD 60-65 one-way. Big obstacle is crossing the Srepok river as there is no regular ferry there. The road from Sen Monorom town to Koh Nhek district has been improved. From Koh Nhek to Srepok river (near Lomphat district town, road is muddy in rainy season and heavily sandy in dry season. From Lomphat to Ban Lung, the road is reasonable and it takes around 1 hour on 40 km road.
-For those who prefer a less adventurous journey, take a bus from Mondulkiri to Snuol district of Kratie, and then take a van to Kratie town where you may have to spend a night here. Then see above for travel between Kratie and Ratanakiri.

5. From Pakse, Lao PDR

Phnom Penh Sorya Transport/Saeng Chaloen Transport are operating a daily Pakse-Phom Penh bus. The one departure is early in the morning from Km#2 bus station (VIP bus station). Buy the ticket to Stung Treng, from which you can connect with another bus that comes from Phnom Penh to Ratanakiri (see From Stung Treng above). 

NOTE : If you stay in Don Det, Don Kone, or Don Kong in Siphandon (4000 Islands), Laos and will continue to Stung Treng in Cambodia, you can contact travel agents to buy through ticket for the journey from one of the above island to Stung Treng town (or even to Ratanakiri). Ask your guesthouse/hotel for more details and booking. Please note again that a 30–day Cambodian visa is available at this crossing at USD20.-. Please have your photos ready. In another direction, a Lao visa is also available on the Lao side.

From Stung Treng, see above.

6. From Pleiku, in Gialai province, Vietnam through the Oyadao/Le Thanh crossing 

Finally, the Oyadao (in Cambodia) /Le Thanh (in Viatnam) crossing was upgraded (effective 15 Dec 2007) to international crossing, enabling foreigners other than Cambodian and Vietnamese to cross. Cambodian visas (30 days of tourist) or business types are available on arrival (USD20 and 25, respectively). Have your photos ready. Please be seriously noted that if you want to cross into Vietnam at this point you must posses Vietnamese visa in your passport as the visa on arrival in Vietnam is NOT available at this crossing.
From Pleiku, there are several shared vans departing Pleiku to the crossing, taking 1 and a half to 2 hours. At the van terminal near the border -just before the VN immigration post- Cambodian van to Ban Lung,  Ratanakiri should be waiting there, departing at 10.30 am., 11 am, and the last one at 12 pm., taking 1 and a half to 2 hours.  So please make sure that you arrive at the border well before 12 pm. We are 4.5 km before ban lung town on the road from VN, so you can ask the van driver to drop you at our place. Give him our phone number (097-6999146, 011-790510) so the driver can contact us.

Tips for planning your overland trip to Ratanakiri and the northeast of Cambodia, and beyond :
1. If you plan for Ratanakiri, Stung Treng, and Kratie to be in your trip starting from Phnom Penh, it is suggested that you take a bus or van ride from Phnom Penh directly to Ratanakiri. This may be a very long journey but as you take this from the starting point in Phnom Penh, you have more chance to choose the better seat you want in the bus or van. Unless you have other reason, try to avoid taking the seats in the back row of the bus/van as it will mean bumpy ride for your next 600 km. Ask the ticket counter (or advise your hotel receptionist) for a seat plan and choose your favourite seat number accordingly when you buy ticket. (Many of our guests who took the bus from Kampong Cham or Kratie could not get the good seat in the already crowded bus from Phnom Penh. Some could not not even get the seat as the bus is full from Phnom Penh.)
On your way back from Ratanakiri, you can break up your trip at Stung Treng or Kratie as there is bus service starting from these two provinces.
2. If you add Mondul Kiri to the above plan, you should break your trip at Kratie town on your way back from Ratanakiri and approach bus company to arrange thru ticket from Kratie to Sen Monorom of Mondul Kiri on the next day. You will be dropped at Snuol district in time to catch the Mondul Kiri bus from Phnom Penh.
3. If you plan to travel from Ratanakiri to Siem Reap and want to break your trip, the bus connection point should be in Kampong Cham with overnight. GST bus company and Phnom Penh Sorya bus have regular daily service between Kg Cham and Siem Reap departing around 7 am. and arriving Siem Reap around mid-day.
4. Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani (in northeastern Thailand)-Pakse&4000 islands (in southern Lao)-Stung Treng-Ratanakiri-Phnom Penh-Siem Reap : This innovative route was carried out by many of our guests who are not fans of backtracking. From Bangkok, take train, or bus, or plane ( and ) to Ubon and cross into Lao at Chongmek/Vangtao crossing. Four departures daily of direct international bus from Ubon to Pakse are available from Ubon bus terminal. From Pakse,see above.

Getting to our place :

If you will arrive Ban Lung by bus or tourist van, please kindly call us (Tel 011-725881, 011-790510, 097-6999146) ONE day before regarding the name of bus or van company you are going to take.  If you could not find our staff meeting you at the bus/van station ( as arrival time of bus/van can differ from day to day), show the same telephone number above to the bus/van company or driver and ask them to call us. Our staff person should be there at the station in 15 minutes.
If you arrive Ban Lung by overland transport from Stung Treng, Kratie, Phnom Penh or Mondulkiri; please tell the driver to drop you at our place. Our place is located just 4.5 km east of town on national road number 78 (road to Vietnam).
If you fail to convince the driver, please ask him to drop you at the taxi station, then call us from the Hangmeas Phone Shop (or any telephone booth nearby) just opposite the station at Tel. 011-725881, 011-790510, or 097-6999146, and we will send our Jeep to pick you up. (Phone charge should be at 500 riel or about 12 cents per minute.) SOME OF OUR GUESTS HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN INSISTING THE VAN DRIVER TO DROP THEM AT OUR PLACE, BY NOT PAYING THE FARE IN BAN LUNG UNLESS BEING DROPPED AT YAKLOM HILL LODGE. THIS IS LOGICAL AS IT IS COMMON FOR THESE TAXIS TO PICK UP PASSENGERS AT THE LODGE WITHOUT HESITATION! If you want to go to our place by yourself from town, get one motor bike taxi (motodup) near the market, with the fare 6000-8000 riel per person. Have a look at : for our location in the map. We are located to the right of the Yaklom traffic circle (with hill tribe monuments). for our location on the map. We are only 1 km from the hill tribe monument (Yaklom roundabout).
If you want to get some orientation in Ban Lung, please look at the following Ban Lung city map :

Practicalities in Ratanakiri :  

1. ATM : Two local banks here offer 24/7 ATM services. ACLEDA Bank (near city's central round about) is available for visa cards. Canadia Bank (west of the market) can be used with visa, mastercards, plus, etc.

2. Internet : There are several internet shops around town. Fee should be about US$1 per hour. Some guesthouse/hotels may have wifi spot. Local mobile phone operators (cellcard, beeline, smart, metfone, etc.) also offer internet (2G/Edge/GPRS) on mobile phone with cheap local SIM cards. 3G is available in major city : such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, etc. Check in these respective websites for more information :,,,