Sen Monorom, the capital of Mondulkiri province in the north east of Cambodia, is the perfect off-the-beaten-track destination. Sen Monorom has something for everyone: families, tourists looking for an outdoors experience, animal lovers, adventure types, and hobbyists interested in gemstones and traditional textiles. Oh, and did we mention the waterfalls?
Elephants are clearly the must-see attraction, but Mondulkiri’s beautiful rolling hills with dry and wet sub-tropical forests, and plethora of gushing waterfalls are also worth a visit. Here’s some things you can do and see, using Sen Monorom as a base for exploring Mondulkiri:
The largest, highest and most popular waterfall in the area is Bousra. Not only is it popular with foreign tourists, but Cambodian families also make a point to visit this unique and powerful waterfall and set out a picnic lunch to enjoy the spray and scenery. The path leads to the base of one large fall with a pool, and a short stream to the next waterfall (which in dry season you can climb down on the giant boulders to explore). You can put your feet in the upper pool, but be warned, the current is very strong and we definitely don’t recommend trying to take a swim in wet season. Bousra Waterfall is a fairly straightforward 45 to 60 minute drive on paved roads from Sen Monorom if you want to rent a motorbike. Parking costs 2,000 riel.
This is one of the only other waterfalls around Sen Monorom that you can easily get to on a motorcycle and without a guide. Monorom Waterfall also tends to be less crowded than the very popular Bousra, even though Monorom is closer to Sen Monorom town. It has only one nice broad major fall, but the current is still pretty strong during wet season. There is no food for sale here most of the time, and no parking attendant to watch your motorcycle, so come prepared.
The Sea Forest
About 20 km out of town, the Sea Forest is a favorite spot of Max and André, our jungle experts. The hill gives a great perspective on the surrounding countryside, and it is quite peaceful (when there aren’t too many other tourists) to just sit back and contemplate the layers of blue that fade into the late afternoon sky. Don’t expect too much to be going on here, it’s just a nice panorama view with parking.
If the prospect of navigating your way around by motorbike does not appeal, or you want to delve deeper into the forests, or see some Bunong villages and learn about the culture of the indigenous people of Northeast Cambodia, guided treks are an excellent and accessible option. Treks can be organized at various guesthouses and places in town, and can last from half a day up to two or three days. We particularly recommend checking out the ecotourism treks advertised in Hefalump Cafe; they also procure local handicrafts to sell, with all proceeds going back to the villages that produce them.
You can also organize treks or meals at the Bunong Place, or arrange a trek and homestay with local Bunong guide Vanny and his family through the Mondulkiri Ethnic Project. Greenhouse Restaurant and Nature Lodge also have full and half-day trekking that usually can be arranged without too much notice except in the very worst parts of high season.
Wondering how to get there? Read our guide on how to get to Sen Monorom and Mondulkiri from Phnom Penh.