Ratanakiri is coming up a name for itself as diverse region of excellence natural beauty that provides home for minority peoples such as the Jarai, Tompoun, the Brau and the Kreung also known as Khmer Leu (Upper Khmers) with their own languages, traditions and customs. There is also a large Lao population throughout the province and multiple languages will be heard in villages like Voen Sai.
The forest is disappearing at an alarming rate and replaced by rubber plantations and cashew-nut farms. Gem mining is big business in this region. The name Rattanakiri means “hill of precious stones”. There are very good quality zircons mined in several parts of the province as well as other semi-precious stones. The prices are still low.
Adrenaline activities are plentiful like swimming in the clear water of volcanic lakes, showing under waterfalls, glimpsing an elephant or trek in the vast Virachay National Park. Tourism is set to take off. The best period to explore this region is December to February. Boats are a popular means of transport for scenic trips, but the province is too isolated for a trip into the river Stung Treng in a realistic option.