The country’s northernmost region, Ratanakiri province is often referred to as the Wild East, of which Ban Lung is the provincial capital. The town’s nickname, dey krakhorm, meaning red earth, derives from the red dust that settles on everything from people’s faces to the leaves of trees, giving the place a surreal autumnal feel. Ban Lung is best visited between November and February when the rains have stopped and the dust has not yet become a nuisance. During the wet season, from July to September, the town’s roads become quite impassable.
Ban Lung is little more than a transportation and accommodations hub for the many riches that lie on its fringes; these include waterfalls, bottle- green crater lakes, minority villages, and ethnic animist cemeteries. Two-day treks in the Virachey National Park, 31 miles (50 km) to the north of Ban Lung, are recommended. A number of eco-trekking organizations are starting to take shape here. Elephant rides to local waterfalls, of which Ka Tieng is the most impressive, can be organized by most guesthouses.