The hilly province of Mondulkiri is relatively undeveloped and located in the northeast region of Cambodia. The local scenery includes lush green rolling hills, powerful waterfalls and thickly forested mountains. Also, the local hill tribe people are very welcoming and help create a first-class destination for the adventure traveller.
The provincial capital of Sen Monorom is a great base to start exploring the local area. Any Cambodia Adventure Tours that takes you off the beaten track makes it possible to experience the wonderfully warm local people or go elephant trekking through some of the finest forests in South East Asia.
Mondulkiri is one of the largest, yet relatively low populated provinces in Cambodia. Sen Monorom is at an altitude of nearly 800 m which makes it possible to get a pleasant break from the intense heat noticed on the lower plains. It is situated 370 km northeast of Phnom Penh and a destination that is relatively easy to travel to because of the paved and upgraded roads.
This is one of the most beautiful areas in Cambodia for nature tours and perfect for the eco-tourists that wishes to experience nature at its best while also seeing the wildlife and elephant sanctuaries in the local area.
Mondulkiri does not have much in the way of ancient ruins, but is perfect for those that want to discover natural beauty spots that are off the beaten track and wants to get the opportunity to enjoy the trekking and hiking tours. The best way to experience the natural beauty is to get off the roads and trek into the surrounding forests. There are plenty of untouched waterfalls and ancient Bunong trails to visit.
Local activities include camping, elephant bathing, elephant riding, swimming, and hiking. For a safe and enjoyable exploration of the forests, a tour led by an English speaking guide on the Indochina tour packages is certain to be the most practical option.
The weather throughout the dry season is in the region of 23 to 29°C with plenty of sunshine. In the summer the temperature can increase slightly, and range from 27 to 31°C. Also, because of the increased elevation of 800 m, the temperature at night can start to become quite chilly. The preferred time to visit Mondulkiri and experience the Cambodia Package Tours is in the dry season when the climate is dry and dusty, while still being pleasant enough to tour the local area.
The Mondulkiri region of Cambodia has various climates throughout the year, which is generally different to other parts of the country. While it will get warmer throughout the daytime, the weather can start to get quite cold at night time. The major community is nestled between two small lakes and lush hills, and inhabited by several ethnic minorities.
Mondulkiri is relatively rich in natural resources that are just waiting to be explored, such as the waterfront parks, small rivers, impressive waterfalls, pine plantations, indigenous wildlife, rainforest and majestic mountains. In view of these natural qualities, this area has been designated a perfect spot for the adventure traveller and eco-tourists. This gives a perfect opportunity to learn about the day-to-day life in the ethnic minority villages, visit the waterfalls, ride on elephants and treks up the mountains and hills.
Its capital, Sen Monorom is about 375 km from Phnom Penh and the total area of Mondulkiri spans 14,288 km². This region is bordered by the Kratie province to the west, Ratanakiri to the north, and Vietnam to the south and east.
How to get there
Mondulkiri is easy to travel by road from Phnom Penh and can take in the region of 7 to 9 hours to complete depending on the season and speed. While most of the road is relatively flat there are several areas that are quite lumpy, especially from Snoul to Keo Seima. Also, if travelling during the wet season on the Cambodia Package Holiday, some parts of the road that can get quite challenging unless driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
A regular bus service is available from Phnom Penh, but the progress is slow with typical journey times taking the entire day to reach the stop off point at Sen Monorom, Mondulkiri. But the buses are generally only available to run during the dry season, as the road can start to get impassable and slippery in the wet season.
Other options include by pick up which can in fact be the fastest and easiest method to reach Mondulkiri. It is relatively easy to find a pick up near the Sorya bus station in Phnom Penh that is making the journey to Mondulkiri. But, most of these vehicles can get quite overloaded, so make sure you get a seat inside the vehicle. The cost for this type of travel is in the region of $10 to $14 for the entire trip.
Where to stay
The quality of the hotels in the Sen Monorom region has seen great improvements in recent years with plenty of comfortable and well featured hotels and guesthouses. The cost of the accommodation can vary significantly with the season. The most attractive prices available out of season when there are a lot less tourists in town. Many of the hotels can be booked as part of the Cambodian tour packages to give the complete travel experience.
The Long Vibol Guest House and Restaurant is one of the finest places to stay in town and offers several well-kept bungalows for travellers to sleep the night. Plus, the attached restaurant can cook up some delicious food, with the steamed fish a great choice. The cost to stay is in the region of $8 to $30, which depends on the number of people and features included. Other choices include the big Arun Reah 2 Guesthouse that is approx. 1.5 km from the centre of town. These rooms give great views of the local surroundings and rolling hills, with rates about $10 per night.
Moving further out of Sen Monorom is the Nature Lodge, which is located in a pristine valley about 2 km from town. This lodge is entirely surrounded by misty hills and is a great place to stay for the traveller that loves to explore. The rates are quite inexpensive and well worth a look.
Eat and drink
Because this is still a little developed tourist destination, there aren’t the most wide-ranging options when it comes to restaurants that serve tourists. Most of the restaurants serve Vietnamese and Khmer foods, as well as something with more European style on request. There are eateries like the Pick Kiri and Holiday Guesthouse that offer the common Khmer dishes, while Bananas is certain to be preferred by those that wish to eat real European food. Also, most of these restaurants cook on request, so it is necessary to visit the preferred one and let them know what you want to eat. The owner of the restaurant will then go and buy the ingredients and prepare the meal, which is when you return to the restaurant to enjoy your custom-ordered meal. While this isn’t the norm in Cambodia, it seems to work very well in this town.
The local all-purpose market gets most of its stock from nearby Vietnam, which means this market doesn't provide the typical feel of other Cambodian markets. But there are still plenty of gifts and souvenirs like adornments and bracelet that are made by the local hill tribes. Plus, there are plenty of food options with fruit, desserts and noodle stalls throughout the market.
Things to see and do
Bu Sra waterfall
The Mondulkiri province has plenty of beautiful waterfalls with the largest and most stunning in Cambodia being the Bu Sra waterfall. This waterfall is relatively easy to travel to by road by bus or car and the journey gives a perfect opportunity to admire the beautiful local scenery that consists of the ethnic Phnong villages, paper plantations, rubber plantations, coffee farms and rice fields. It is approximately 48 km from Sen Monorom town and situated in the Pich Chinda district. The Bu Sra waterfall is split over three levels with the top level having the fast flowing water. The second level is the favoured destination for the tourists that wish to bath and relax in the cool waters and natural surroundings. Also on this level, there are plenty of locals with stands set up to sell a variety of Phnong products such as agricultural products (honey, potatoes, beans and bananas) as well as scarves and clothes. The third level is out of bounds to travellers because it is very dangerous.
In addition, there are plenty of good facilities in the local area with guesthouses for overnight stay and restaurants for lunch or dinner for the longer layover on the Cambodia vacation tours.
Memang Gold Mines Area
The Memang Gold Mines Area is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Mondulkiri and a great destination to explore for the family fun excursions. It is about 45 km from Sen monorom and it is possible to arrive within about 3 hours by car. The route to the Memang Gold Mines has beautiful scenery with rainforests and long winding tracks. This wildlife reserve is based in O’Clor Village and a perfect place to visit for those interested in a variety of fauna and flora.
This region is also a great spot for excursions for the nature and adventure lovers that want to fully appreciate what is on offer in this wildlife reserve. Trekking tours on elephants are available to visitors. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to experience camping in the local area. Many Cambodia travel packages include the half day and full day tours throughout this region.
Chrey Thom Waterfall
The Chrey Thom Waterfall is easily found in the Sen Monorum district and close to a large, branchy Chrey tree and a plantation of Srolao trees. The waterfall during the wet season has a fall of 11 m in height and 8 m in diameter, while in the dry season, this can change to 15 m in height and 2 m in diameter. This fall is more popular as a tourist attraction because it is accessible year-round, and more favourable to others like the Busra waterfall that is impossible to reach in the wet season.
The Monorom Falls are just 5 km outside of the main town and create a very impressive sight with its three stage set of waterfalls with the largest 9 meters in height and 5 meters in width. Beyond the beauty of the waterfalls, the actual journey to reach the site includes beautiful scenery and rubber and coffee plantations. This waterfall is regarded as the local’s swimming pool and is a popular destination to enjoy a relaxing picnic.
This fall is approx 5.5 km from town and is relatively easy to reach. There is a great pool at the foot of the 7.5 m waterfall that is a perfect destination for a picnic or a swim. This site is best reached using a motorcycle or by hiring a moto taxi for the journey, which can cost about 5000 Riel per hour.
A visit to Pahlung Village in the northern part of Sen monorom is a popular destination on the travel tours and within a one-hour drive of the provincial capital. It is the diverse regional culture and the scenic rustic setting that helps to attract the attention of the travellers. This village is great for experiencing an elephant trekking trip. Plus, it is passed on the trek to the Bousra Waterfalls and can include sprawling rainforests, winding tracks and idyllic waterfalls.
This village is rich in scenic spots as well as the local houses and huts that are wonderfully designed. The surrounding forest area is rich in a variety of fauna and flora. There are plenty of tour agencies that offer a trip to Pahlung Village, which can last from half to a full day. For those travellers that plan to stay the full day there is the possibility of camping overnight in the village.