Getting there and away
Taking the bus to Mondulkiri is easier than ever, thanks to the new road which was constructed about two years ago. Both Rith Mony and Sorya Transport operate buses to Mondulkiri from Phnom Penh, and both company's buses will take from 6 to 7 hours to Sen Monorom from the capital under ideal conditions.
Cambodian buses usually run late, so don't expect promptness. Rith Mony's rattletrap and chronically late buses are widely loathed by travelers and expats alike, and it's probably best to avoid them if at all possible. From Sen Monorom, buses can be arranged to Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Kratie, Stung Treng, Memot, Snoul, Soung, and Kompong Cham.
The bus is a dodgier proposition in the wet season (beginning in May and ending in November) when roads get slippery, although big buses now ply the route year-long thanks to the new road. Elderly passenger buses have been known to break down on the steep road to Sen Monorom. Don't believe bus company signs that claim your chariot will have a toilet -- it probably won't, although you occasionally do get lucky.
Rith Mony: 7:30 AM, $9, (012) 818 737/ (011) 823 885
Sorya Travel: 8:15 AM, $9, (012) 631 545 / (023) 210 359
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A private taxi is by far the most pleasant way to reach Sen Monorom. Taxis to Sen Monorom can be easily arranged by your Mondulkiri accommodation ahead of time. Prices fluctuate depending on gas—we paid $80 for a whole Toyota Camry in January 2012. You can also rent a 10-seat van for $120, if you are traveling with a large group.
Share taxis, vans, and trucks are favored by the Cambodian working-man, and are a reasonably convenient, if crowded and occasionally unsafe, option. You can catch a ride on Street 70 near Wat Phnom and the French Embassy. Be there early -- before 08:00 - and be ready to wander from driver to driver to negotiate a fare. Some waiting around is to be expected. Prices are usually highly negotiable depending on the driver, the vehicle, and everyone's mood at any given time, but run around $15 to $20. Both taxis and trucks are always packed to the gills with people, and the front seat will often hold 3 or more people. If you're concerned about comfort, or simply aren't Cambodian-sized, buying two seats is a good idea.
On the way out of Sen Monorom, a share taxi stand is located on the strip of road running parallel to the airstrip, near the town market. Get there early and be prepared to negotiate, as one does in Phnom Penh.
Minibuses are popular with the locals, but are almost always uncomfortably—and unsafely—crowded. Only recommended for the exceptionally brave, as deadly accidents involving overstuffed minibuses happen on a distressingly regular basis. The minibus takes about 8 hours either way. MVP Travel in Sen Monorom can book you a seat to Phnom Penh for $12 at 7:30 AM and $1:30 PM. Call 090 25 14 26/092 96 80 06.
Only experienced riders should attempt a ride to Sen Monorom. The roads from Phnom Penh are better then they were, but they still are not great. You can rent a touring motorbike in Phnom Penh at old standbys Lucky Lucky and Good Good on Sihanouk Boulevard. Night driving is extremely unsafe. Plan to stop overnight in on-the-way Kratie. (The town of Kratie along the river, not Kratie Province itself, in case you were confused).
Getting to Ratanakiri
You can travel by motorbike from Mondulkiri to Ratanakiri, but it's not a trip for the faint-hearted. Banlung, Ratanakiri's provincial capital, is a roughly six-hour-long journey from Sen Monorom. The remote road is only passable in the dry season from November to May, and there is a ferry crossing to be negotiated. Only experienced bikers should even think about this one. The less experienced should hire a motorbike driver or a car for the journey. The road is currently being worked on—primarily so loggers can step-up their tireless deforestation efforts—and the travel situation should change soon.
Crossing into Vietnam
The closest border crossing to Mondulkiri is located in Snoul along National Highway 7, and deposits travelers into Loc Ninh in Vietnam. Although it is little used by foreign travelers due to its remote location, no issues with the crossing have been reported recently.
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