The Indochina T-Junction, also known as the tri-border marker, where the boundaries of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos converge, is an important monument that has gained attention from tourists. 

The area, popularly known as the Dragon’s Tail by Cambodians, sits atop a mountain peak and is celebrated for symbolising the friendship and cooperation among the three nations. 

This unique location attracts visitors interested in geopolitics, history and adventure travel. Visitors can experience the unique traditions, languages and lifestyles of the diverse ethnic groups residing in the region. 

The proximity to multiple ethnicities makes it a fascinating destination for cultural enthusiasts.

Photos of Vietnamese visiting the landmark, widely shared on social media, have highlighted the allure of this remote destination. 

However, they have also sparked frustration among Cambodian locals, who lament their inability to access the landmark due to challenging road conditions.

Nget Pitou, director of the Ratanakkiri Provincial Department of Tourism, acknowledged the difficulties faced by travellers attempting to reach the monument from the Cambodian side, especially during the rainy season. 

“Traveling from Cambodia to the Dragon’s Tail is difficult, particularly due to the mountainous terrain and the potential for [vehicles] to get stuck,” said Pitou.  

"The government has built a road along the border, and soon we will be able to travel through our O’Yadav border crossing. However, the road from Taveng district to the Dragon’s Tail area remains a challenge," he told The Post.

A satellite image pinned with the location of the Indochina T-Junction, where the borders of Cambodia, Thailand and Laos meet. Facebook: Autocheck Cambodia

The tri-border marker, situated at an elevation of approximately 1,086 metres, is located in Po Y commune, Ngoc Hoi district in Vietnam’s Kon Tum province, Attapeu province of Laos and Ratanakkiri province in Cambodia. 

Pitou said the lush landscapes, rivers and mountains offer excellent opportunities for trekking, wildlife spotting and eco-tourism. 

He went on to note that there is potential for developing cross-border tourism packages that include visits to notable sites in all three countries, which could boost local economies and promote regional cooperation and cultural exchange.

The marker itself is a triangular monument made of marble, with each side facing one of the three countries and engraved with their respective national emblems and names. 

Constructed in 2007 and inaugurated in 2008, it stands as a testament to the solidarity and cooperation among these nations and is surrounded by natural beauty and biodiversity, including dense forests and a variety of wildlife.

The Kon Tum provincial People’s Committee in Vietnam has already approved a project to leverage the marker for local tourism development. 

The initiative aims to contribute to local hunger eradication, poverty reduction and the maintenance of border security and social order. However, the Cambodian side has yet to see similar development efforts.

Meas Ny, a social researcher familiar with the area, highlighted past efforts to improve the region's infrastructure. 

"Three years ago, a road was being constructed with clean red gravel but without double bituminous surface treatment [DBST]. If the road remains unpaved, it will be prone to damage by rains," he said. 

Ny also mentioned that previous development plans by logging tycoon Try Pheap to build a bridge across the Sesan River to the Dragon’s Tail area were suspended. 

Views of all three sides of the tri-border marker, popularly known as the Dragon’s Tail. Facebook: Autocheck Cambodia

"Cambodia needs to enhance its potential and construct a strategic road to keep up with neighbouring countries’ development," he told The Post.

Ny emphasised the importance of building infrastructure in the region while Pitou noted that the provincial governor has been urging the government to build a road. 

Pitou said that no tourists have reached the marker from the Cambodian side yet, as they can only get as far as Veal Thom and Virachey National Park, except for delegations travelling through Vietnam and then returning to Cambodia.

Chhoun Phirom, a prominent figure in Cambodian mountaineering, has expressed his intention to visit the tri-border marker within the summer. 

"I have never been there, but this year, I will. The road from our side is very difficult to access, especially during the rainy season," he said. 

Phirom, known for promoting hiking and environmental stewardship, emphasised the importance of improving infrastructure to make such destinations more accessible.

"I encourage our people to visit more of our country's tourist attractions. The most important thing is improving infrastructure to make it easier for tourists to visit," Phirom told The Post.

Thon Soukhon, deputy director of the Vorachey National Park Office, said that the road built during the land concession company's operation was completely damaged by nature, making it impassable. 

"There are no tourists visiting the area because it is a land concession, not a tourist area," he told The Post. "Currently, tourists visit the Veal Thom area, which takes 5-6 hours to reach by modified motorbike, while walking can take 12 to 15 hours."

As Cambodia looks to boost its tourism potential, improving access to the Indochina T-Junction could become an important step in attracting both domestic and international tourists.