One of the last true wild frontiers in Southeast Asia, Modulkiri is windswept, isolated and adventurous – the largest, least populated and least accessible province in the country, nestled as it is against the border with Vietnam in the far east of Cambodia. The main town, Sen Monorom, is a sleepy laid back affair, in keeping with its remoteness.
The small villages of Phulung and Putang, just outside Sen Monorom, are the starting point for treks that vary in length from two hours to two days. Shorter treks journey through small villages and into the fringes of the forest, whilst longer options venture deep into the jungle past refreshing waterfalls where few visitors go. The region is at a high elevation, supporting unique flora and fauna among its hills, which is home to an indigenous population, including the Pnong who make up half the population.
The area is famed for its waterfalls – Bou Sraa Waterfall is the most impressive and famous Cambodia and, are celebrated in song throughout the country, despite most Cambodians never having visited them. There is an unusual double drop, plunging 15m then 30m into the jungle below.
Mondulkiri is also home to a number of rare animals; including tigers, bears and leopards. However, it is most famous for its elephant population and the Elephant Valley Project is a sanctuary for retired elephants in the jungles of the northeast. Instead of riding the elephants, visitors are invited to join the herd for a day, learning about elephant behaviour, watching these majestic creatures forage and helping them bathe. Much better than an elephant ride, this is more like observing the mountain gorillas in Uganda or Rwanda.
If you plan to visit this region a stay of three days would be the minimum recommendation. This area is not for the faint hearted as it is tough to get here and accommodation is basic but this is outweighed by the rich cultural variety and the remoteness of the area.