Earth : Asia : Southeast Asia : Cambodia : Eastern Cambodia : Sen Monorom
Sen Monorom lies at an altitude of 800 meters which makes it a little bit cooler than Phnom Penh especially during the night.
The city is rapidly developing and so is the tourist industry. You will not find untouched or unspoiled nature or ethnic groups. But even though you might not be the first tourist to lay your eyes on Sen Monorom it is probably one of the least touristic areas in Cambodia and many of the ethic groups still lives pretty much like they always have, but this may soon end if the tourist industry keeps growing in the area.
It takes 7-8 hours from Phnom Penh but a new paved road is in the process of being built so the trip will probably be shorter when it is finished. It cost around 8-10 dollars from Phnom Penh
The centre of sen monorom is quite small and can be explored by foot but a bicycle can also be a lot of fun. However if you want to venture off into the forest then the easiest way to get around is on a moto.
There is not much to see in the city. There is a small market next to the bus station. This is the gateway town to Mondulkiri Province an amazing and unique part of Cambodia. Sen Monorom is not touristy and has jungle, rolling grass fields, hill tribes, waterfalls, and winding dirt roads.
Borsa Waterfall is 2 large waterfalls one after the other they are both impressive especially after the rainy season. The first is 30M in height and the second is 40M. You can walk up to both waterfalls and swim and go behind them depending on the season. There is a path that goes around the waterfalls that is about 1 km. Local native costumes can be rented for a dollar and a picture taken for a dollar as well. The entrance fee is $5000 reil and the waterfall is located about 45min away by motorbike.
Trekking into SIEMA Biodiversiy Conservation area is a good alternative to elephant trekking. Your money still goes into the local community while promoting wildlife conservation and providing guides w/ employment that doesn't rely on overworked elephants. Poaching and deforestation is still a large problem but SIEMA still retains 7 species of Globally Threatened primates including the world's largest population of Black-shanked Doucs. Dry season is best for treks when fruit trees are ripe but sightings of wildlife can occur year round. Most tours depending on what you want can be arranged at the Greenhouse.
WWF are planning to open a Safari style lodge, in the near future on the Srepok River but for now it is still under construction but maybe late in 2010 or 2011 they will open.
To get up and close with elephants that roam free in the natural habitat it is however possible to spend a day and or night at The Elephant Valley Project where you will be able to see how this NGO takes local sick and abused elephants and rehabilitates them back into their natural habitat. You can not ride them but will however walk with them as they graze the forest and grasslands there. An alternative to the more normal asian style of riding elephants these mahouts do not ride or beat there elephants but guide them through there days routines with an impressive display of voice commands. (www.mondulkirielephant.wordpress.com)
It cost 60 dollars for a full day w/ elephants and can be mediated by Mr Bill at "The Middle of Somewhere" next to the Greenhouse and not far from the round about. The Middle of Somewhere also offers tours and homestays. Half-day w/ elephants and half-day volunteering is $30 dollars.
It is possible to rent mountain bikes, motos ($8 a day) and dirt bikes in the city and these can be acquired at "The Green House" (talk to Sam Sang), Holiday GH and Sovankiri GH The guide attached to “The Middle of Somewhere”, an old Khmer rouge soldier also has a sterling reputation at getting people off the beaten track to places where tourists rarely go.
Sea Forest- a bare mountain not far from sen monorom that has great views of the surrounding lanscape. Vietnam, jungle and other provinces can be seen from the top.
You can buy scarves and other handicrafts made by the minority people in the shops around the city as well as coffee and honey. Nature Ledge and the Middle of Somewhere provide genuine hand woven scarfs and crafts if you are after a more authentic product.
There is a good Khmer restaurant (Khmer Kitchen) close to "The Middle of Somewhere" and by the river Bananas owned by a Dutch lady is also very good however is closing soon due to a lack of customers and too much beer. The Greenhouse is a must for backpackers. It has a good vibe and a very friendly owner. He can arrange for tours and speaks good English. He is also employed by WWF and knows what goes on in the region.
The Greenhouse Bar!
By bus to Siem Reap 10-12 hours $11.
By bus to Kratie 4 hours.