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
It's also possible to arrive from Ban Lung, the capital of Ratanakiri, via private minibus. It takes around 5 hours considering that the road is currently in construction. As of January 15th, 2015 it costed 14$. You can find mini-buses in the off-season from Banlung to Sen Monorom ranging from $8.50 to $10 (traveled July 2015)
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. Bicycyles are normally available for rent for $3 and Motobikes for $7.
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.
Bousra 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.
Specialized tours such as elephant trekking to minority ethic village, and walking treks into the local woodlands and forests can be purchased at most local guesthouses and hotels. Tours to local waterfalls are also available.
Trekking into Seima 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 this area 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. Enquire at the Green House Bar and Restaurant for the next available tour.
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.
To get up and close with elephants that roam free in the natural habitat then visiting the very original Elephant Valley Project (or EVP as it is locally known) is a definite highlight of a trip to this region. It is here that you will be able to see how the local charity ELIE takes care or several herds of retired, former working 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. This is proving to be an increasingly popular destination with several copy cat enterprises developing alternatives to adapt to the attraction. Check out their website at www.elephantvalleyproject.org for more info.
Visit the Mondulkiri Project, a protected forest area offering unique elephant encounters and overnight jungle treks. You can walk with, feed, swim with and wash elephants at a waterfall in the jungle. No elephant riding. This new community project employs local Bunong guides and plans to start Mondulkiri's first elephant breeding program. Website: http://www.mondulkiriproject.org.
It is possible to rent mountain bikes, motos ($7 a day) and dirt bikes in the city and these can be acquired at "The Green House" (talk to Sam Nang), Holiday GH and Sovankiri GH
You can buy scarves and other handicrafts made by the indigenous people in the shops around the city as well as coffee and honey. There are two made coffee brands that orginate from Mondulkiri, the first is Mondulkiri Coffee which is roasted just outside of town next to the old bank and Chay Mao Coffee which is roasted near the main market. Authentic, pure and locally produced honey can be purchased from the Mondulkiri associations honey shop which is on the main street of Sen Monorom.
There is one ATM at the ACLEDA bank. It is located across from the Green House guesthouse and is open 24/7. It only accepts Visa Cards and charges $4USD for non-ACLEDA cards. The maximum withdrawal is $250.
There are plans in the works to open a new Canadia Bank opposite the Holiday Guesthouse and this will accept Mastercard.
If you do find yourself stuck without cash in Mondulkiri then consider going to the western union online website and sending yourself money through western union.
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!
Most restaurants/guesthouses here say tickets to Phnom Penh via minibus are $12. Departures from Sen Monorom at 7am and 1pm daily.