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. At the time of writing, only Sorya Transport is currently operating buses to Mondulkiri from Phnom Penh, and will take at least 7 hours to Sen Monorom from the capital under ideal conditions.
Cambodian buses usually run late, so don't expect promptness. 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.
Sorya Travel: 8:15 AM, $8, T: (012) 631 545 T: (023) 210 359
You have two options for express minibuses from Sen Monorom to Phnom Penh and can make it in five hours under ideal conditions. Both companies have well maintained vehicles and don’t overpack them with travellers so you will have room to spread out. They include a free breakfast and leave from the main drag downtown. Don’t be late as they keep to a strict schedule and might leave without you.
Kim Sing VIP Express Shuttle: 7:30, 13:30 $12
Chim Vuth VIP Express Shuttle: 7:00, 13:00 $12, T: (092) 963 243 / T: (010) 456 645
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 are generally around $80 to or from Phnom Penh for a camry or you can rent a 10-seat van for $120, if you are travelling 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. You can catch a ride to Phnom Penh for $10, but be prepared to feel like a sardine and stop a lot on the way. Get there early and be prepared to negotiate, as one does in Phnom Penh.
These days the roads from Phnom Penh to Sen Monorom are in great condition except for a few bits here and there. It can easily be done on a rented touring motorbike and makes a pleasant, if lengthy, ride as there isn’t much traffic. You might want to consider an overnight stay in Memot or Snoul to break up the journey. There isn’t much of interest in either place but otherwise it can be a long day of riding if you’re not used to motorbike trips. 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.
Getting to Ratanakiri
Since the beginning of 2014, the new road to Ban Lung is open and shared minibuses make the trip regularly, packed with locals. The road still isn’t paved yet and it can be a bit treacherous in the rainy season, plan on it taking about six hours and costing roughly $15.
The other option for the adventurous minded is to take the old road on the back of a rented dirt bike. It's definitely not a trip for the faint-hearted and most travellers do a homestay in the jungle midway between. The remote road is only passable in the dry season from November to May, and there is a ferry crossing to be negotiated which can get a bit costly. Haggle hard and you can get the price down to $5 or $10 per motorcycle. Another option is to head back to the main road just before the crossing and take the newly built bridge across. Only experienced bikers should even think about this one and you should definitely hire a guide, which can be found for anywhere from $60 to $120 depending on the weather and their experience. We recommend Mony Hong. His prices are a bit on the high side, but he is worth every penny. Not only is he a great bush mechanic who can get you out of any sticky situations, he is very familiar with the lay of the land. You can check out his website at mondulkiritourguide.com for contact info. The less experienced should hire a motorbike driver for the journey.
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 travellers due to its remote location, no issues with the crossing have been reported recently.
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