The city has a population of around 17,000 and the surrounding district has a population of 23 888. The town became the capital of Ratanakiri province in 1979, following the fall of the Khmer Rouge. The capital was moved from Voen Sai to Banlung in order to facilitate trade with Vietnam (previous to Voen Sai the capital was Lumphat).
Prior to 1979 the town was known as Labansiek. It is a relatively lively commercial center; ethnic minorities from surrounding villages often come to the city market to sell their goods.
Banlung district contains 16 villages located in three communes.
Several tour companies overnight or multi-day trips into the jungles allowing adventuresome travelers to get up close and personal with nature. They offer visitors the opportunity to view a variety of monkeys and other wildlife, though some visitors don’t appreciate getting that close to leeches.
A sorter trips to Yeak Laom Volcanic Lake offers the opportunity to see deep lakes as well as see Cambodian women doing traditional weaving.