have posted several questions so thought it was time i returned the favour and gave some advice! just spent a month in cambodia and heading northeast from phnompenh was def when it started to get most interesting. recommendations:
KOMPONG CHAM - stayed with a family at excellent village homestay: authentic experience not artificial tourist one, basic but comfy, saw real day to day life, ate amazing food, got to talk with pol pot survivors, walked and cycled through village with hosts. highly recommended as a unique and fascinating look at 'real life', rarely on show to tourists. one of highlights of my trip, (can't remember web adress but google rana-cambodia and you'll get it)
KRATIE - lovely chilled out wee town with fab views of sunset over mekong. didnt bother with the dolphins, just enjoyed hanging out around the market and watching life go by.
SEN MONOROM- well worth a visit! travelling there by pick up is the safest and most comfortable option. i met 2 very sore travellers who had paid $8to sit on top of the truck in the dust and heat (plenty of both) and regretted it. i paid for both halves of the front passenger seat for my big western bum and was delighted - def worth the $20! beautiful scenery all the way, though allow up to 10 hours depending on conditions.
Long Vibol's a nice simple cheap gh just outside sen monorom, they run tours too, but i contacted a guy who runs an elephant NGO (you'll get him through Mahogany gh/restaurant, which also does the best food in town)and spent a day out as his project, learning a bit about the elephants and riding on the back before lunch and then the head after lunch. have done several elephant trips in my time but this was easily the best - no huge group, no seat, nobody else around... not the cheapest at $50 for the day but if you want quality and the knowledge that the animals are cared for, this is the place.
SEN MONOROM RATANAKIRI -thought i would have to backtrack to kratie and head up to stung treng and the east to ban lung...tedious... but found there were several moto drivers in sen monorom who will take you for $60. takes 7-8hours, its a rough and then non-existent road, you will probably flip over going through the sandy patches, you wlll hurt like hell the next day, but if you like 'the road less travelled' it is a real adventure. i went with mony from Mahogany gh who charged $60. a very able driver, though if you're female, make it very clear you're only holding on to him so you don't fall off and not for any other reason. despite his overexcitement, he's harmless and handles the bike well and i would still recommend him.
BAN LUNG - stayed the first night at the Ratanak in town, at $5. staff very friendly and v helpful with a couple of problems i had BUT unless you like karaoke very loud all night (and its every night...),give it a miss! next night i went out to yaklom hill lodge, a few rustic huts in a big garden...wonderfully quiet! food bit bland but worth the $10 for my own hut (incl b'fast) to lie in a hammock and chill. nice walk to the lake, 45 mins, from here. they do good treks here. also def worth checking out are the treks with guides from the virachey park office in Ban Lung- ask for the office whereabouts and go and see what they're offering. good ecotourism project and not expensive.
hit the northeast and enjoy! far fewer tourists then the rest of the country!
#1 fishtails04 has been a member since 2/1/2008. Posts: 33
Thanks for the report fishtails -- much appreciated. We did the same moto trip from Sen Monorom to Ban Lung here, one of the driver's names was Map -- and he worked out of Mahogany... same driver perhaps?