Venture through local villages and rough roads to reach this stunning swimming spot.
7km northwest of Banlung town, Katieng Waterfall is a classic Ratanakiri favourite. The top pool of water cascades down over a rock shelf into a large pool below. Admire the forest views from the top or take the wooden stairs down for a dip at the bottom. The water is cooling, and the large rock face allows you to sit behind the waterfall as it flows from the top. Katieng Waterfall is managed by the local Indigenous community and the small entry fee supports the nearby villages.
Katieng Waterfall became an eco-toursim site from 2001. Not just the waterfall area, the community also manage a 180 hectare protected forest too. Tourism is concentrated at the Katieng waterfall site, and the small income from entry fees (2000 riel) are used to support the local community.
Only the leader of the Katieng Waterfall for a few months, Sarourn, 26, has lots of vision for this community.
“I grew up in the Katieng Watefall, I am ethincally Krung, an indigenous group of Ratankiri. I come from a family of six children and now I have two children myself, they go to primary school in the village. Before working here, I helped my father on a rice farm.
The Katieng waterfall and the protected forest is extremely important for our community. Local people from the villages rely on the forest for income. It is important for collecting bamboo to make baskets to sell at the waterfall and nearby Banlung. We also collect honey from the forest too.
In the future I would like to fix the road so that we are more accessible for tourism. It is a hard road, and I always feel for visitors who come here. For someone who hasn’t driven on this type of dusty (or muddy) road before, it can be very difficult. But it makes me happy to see them visit.
I also hope to grow more trees as this is important for the community but also for tourism too.
The money that we earn from the waterfall helps when we have village ceremonies, funerals and to help older people when they get sick.”
Katieng Waterfall is a community managed eco-tourism site located a short distance from Banlung town. The waterfall is set amidst a small forest area, with a deep orange soil, typical of Ratanakiri province. Katieng Waterfall is part of the La Bang Bi Commune with two villages: Katieng and Kachang. There are around 180 families, of which around 150 are Indigenous.
Leaders for Katieng Waterfall are also responsible for managing a 180 hectare forest nearby. This acts as an important resource for many in the community as it provides income. Indigenous people use bamboo to make hand-crafts such as bamboo weaving, collect plants for food and harvest honey to sell.
Katieng waterfall is one of the better ones in Ratanakiri and is perfect for a swim. A small top pool cascades down over a flat rock face to a large pool below. Swimming is possible at the bottom pool and if you are game, clamber along the rocks to behind the waterfalls canopy.
Separate to the community project, Arivata Elephant Foundation operates elephant guided walks through the forest here. Make sure you <research before undertaking any activities involving elephants in Cambodia.
Katieng Waterfall is accessed via an unsealed road. Albeit difficult, the road is suitable for bicycles, motorbikes and cars during dry season. However, wet season (May – October) makes this road extremely treacherous and slow going – we would warn against it at this time of the year. Check with your accommodation for up to date information.
Wooden steps lead you down to the bottom pool for a swim. Small-medium sized rocks border the lower pool. These and the steps can be a little slippery when the weather is wet.
There are a couple of local stores selling meals, drinks and snacks. Rice served with vegetbales and fish, papaya salad or fruit are the main go-to foods here.
A local store sells a variety of indigenous hand-crafts, clothing and jewellery. You can also dress up in brightly coloured Tampuan traditional weaving for a small fee ($1).
Toilets are basic here, and sometimes water is unavailable.
The sure best thing about Katieng Waterfall is its lovely swimming hole. The beautiful lower pool feels secluded and peaceful. Spend some time here swimming before relaxing on the rocks. During the week you may even be the only tourists here.
The local food is super delicious. Try steamed fish served with steamed rice.
Support the local community by purchasing locally made handicrafts. Textile weaving, hand made by local indigenous groups can be purchased at the small store at Katieng.
Ratanakiri, Cambodia’s North Eastern province is easily accessible by road. You can reach Banlung, Ratanakiri’s provincial capital by VIP minibus. It takes approximately 7-8.5 hours from Phnom Penh, 7 hours from Siem Reap and 2.5 hours from Mondulkiri (note from experience, the journey is always a little longer than listed by the bus companies). There are a variety of bus companies offering day and night travel to and from Banlung from which the Katieng Waterfall is only 7kms from.
For easy and hassle-free booking, we would recommend using a fantastic local online booking platform bookmebus.com,that offers good customer service and easy access to travel times and routes for your journey.
From Banlung take National Road 78 North West towards Phnom Penh. After one kilometre or so turn left when you reach Lina Petrol Sation (on your right hand side). Follow this sealed road for another 3-4kms. When you see the sign for Katieng, turn right onto an unsealed road. Here is the difficult part of the journey, although equally beautiful. This takes you through local villages, rubber plantations and cashew plantations before you reach the archway to the waterfall on your right hand side.
Bicycle, motorbike or tuk tuk are you best options and can be arrange via your accommodation in Banlung or at tour companies dotted around Banlung town.
Katieng Waterfall, Ratanakiri
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