jeep hire in siem reap

Elephant Sanctuaries in Cambodia

Experience the Beauty of Elephant Sanctuaries in Cambodia

Elephant sanctuaries in Cambodia offer a unique opportunity to experience the majesty of these gentle giants up close. Not only do these sanctuaries provide a safe haven for elephants rescued from exploitation, but they also play a crucial role in conservation efforts. Learn more about the magic of elephant sanctuaries in Cambodia and the important work being done to protect these magnificent creatures.

Learn about the history and culture of elephants in Cambodia.

Elephants have played an important role in Cambodian culture and history for centuries. They were once used for transportation, logging, and even in battle. However, with the decline of these industries, many elephants were left without homes or proper care. Elephant sanctuaries in Cambodia are working to change this by providing a safe and nurturing environment for these majestic creatures, while also educating visitors about their cultural significance.

Choose a reputable sanctuary that prioritizes elephant welfare

When choosing an elephant sanctuary to visit in Cambodia, it’s important to do your research and select one that prioritizes the welfare of the elephants. Look for sanctuaries that have a no-riding policy, as riding elephants can cause them physical harm. Instead, choose a sanctuary that allows visitors to observe and interact with the elephants in a respectful and non-invasive way. Additionally, make sure the sanctuary has a strong conservation and education program in place to ensure the long-term well-being of the elephants and their habitat.

Participate in hands-on activities, such as feeding and bathing the elephants

One of the highlights of visiting an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia is the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities with the elephants. Many sanctuaries offer feeding sessions, where visitors can feed the elephants their favorite treats, such as bananas and sugar cane. Bathing sessions are also popular, where visitors can help scrub the elephants down in the river. These activities not only provide a unique and unforgettable experience, but also allow visitors to connect with the elephants on a deeper level and learn more about their behavior and personalities.

Support the sanctuary’s conservation efforts through donations or volunteering

Elephant sanctuaries in Cambodia rely heavily on donations and volunteers to continue their conservation efforts. By supporting these sanctuaries, you are not only helping to provide a safe and healthy environment for the elephants, but also supporting the local communities and economies. Consider making a donation or volunteering your time to help with tasks such as feeding and caring for the elephants, maintaining the sanctuary grounds, or assisting with educational programs. Your support can make a significant impact on the future of these gentle giants and their habitats.

Spread awareness about the importance of elephant conservation

Elephant conservation is crucial for the survival of these majestic creatures and their habitats. By spreading awareness about the importance of elephant conservation, we can help to protect them from threats such as habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict. Share information about elephant sanctuaries and their conservation efforts on social media, participate in educational programs, and encourage others to support these important causes. Together, we can make a difference in the future of elephant populations in Cambodia and beyond.

kampot pepper cambodia

Kampot Cambodia

Kampot Cambodia Is More Than The Best Pepper In The World

Kampot River in kampot province cambodia

It is not hard to see why people become entranced with Kampot Cambodia. It doesn’t have Siem Reap’s temples or the glitz of Sihanoukville; however, the town is charming, laid-back and perfect for relaxing and taking a breather from the dusty trails of Cambodia.

Kampot doesn’t look like much at first with its crumbling French-era and Chinese shophouses with fading green and blue shutters and peeling yellow paint. It’s small and sleepy with wide dusty streets and not much traffic, which the latter, Cambodia has in abundance to an annoying level. Yet, many people visit Kampot province and stay for a long time.

Kampot is in southern Cambodia, and it is the capital of Kampot Province. The town is set next to the Prek Tuek Chhu River. Both sides of the river are connected by three bridges: the old French-colonial bridge, which is closed to traffic; the new highway bridge just up river; and a railway bridge. Kampot is situated near the Elephant Mountains and several kilometres from the Gulf of Thailand. It is also only a few hours from Sihanoukville.

The History of Kampot

In the 19the century, under French colonial administration, Kampot became a regional administrative centre, which they name the Circonscription Résidentielle de Kampot. It contained the arrondissements, or administrative districts, of Kampot, Kampong Som, Trang and Kong-Pisey. Under French rule, Kampot was Cambodia’s most important sea port before the establishment of Sihanoukville. It was also a retreat for colonial officials who would visit Bokor Mountain to escape the heat and enjoy the good airs of the mountain.

Kampot is also multi-ethnic with Cambodians on the Prek-Kampot River and Chinese on the right riverbank of the west branch of the Prek-Thom River. Not far away is a Vietnamese village called Tien-Thanh with another Vietnamese village on Traeuy Koh Island. There is aa Muslim section of Kampot town, which is down river a short distance. There is also a large Western population.

It’s easy to get around the wide streets of Kampot on foot, bicycle or motorbike. There is a slower pace to life here with hot afternoons perfect for kicking back. The river promenade attracts people at sunset for strolls and happy hour.

The countryside starts not far from the town centre, where there is a land of rice paddies, palm trees, water buffalo and wooden houses on stilts. Outside of town there are also great places to visit.

Kampot Pepper

kampot pepper cambodia

Kampot is famous for salt and pepper. You can ride out to the salt fields near town and watch locals carry sea water to prepared clay fields. The water is left to evaporate until salt crystals form. Workers rake off the salt and carrying it off in huge baskets.

It is also possible to visit a pepper plantation, walk in the fields, enjoy pepper tasting and try different meals with different peppers. There are also plantations on the way to Kep that produce some of the best pepper in the world.

Try a gin with crushed Kampot pepper and cucumber over lots of ice. Add soda or tonic to make this a perfect sundowner.

Salt Fields Kampot

In addition to the unmistakeably fragrant Kampot pepper there is Kampot salt. A visit to the salt fields in Kampot should be on every itinerary. As they say you cannot have pepper without salt.

Things to do in Kampot

As with nearly everywhere in Cambodia they are plenty of things to do in Kampot. Be it a visit to the Bokor mountains, the salts fields in Kampot or to the growing areas of the world revered Kampot pepper farms. Maybe a dip in the Kampot river and splash in the waterfalls or a tour to the Kampot caves. Whatever your level of activity there are many places to visit in Kampot. There are various Kampot tours and travel offices littered throughout the town.

Bokor Mountain | Kampot Province

While Kampot is a sleepy place for taking it easy and enjoying a slower pace of life, there is a lot going on in the surrounding countryside. You can swim in the Kampot river, visit waterfalls and swimming holes, go on a Kampot river cruise, try yoga, or visit Bokor Mountain. One of the best ways to get around Kampot is by motorcycle, especially if you go to Bokor.

The trip up the mountain to the Bokor Hill Station has sweeping views of the countryside and the Gulf of Thailand. It is also cooler at the top and a pleasant escape from the heat below. There are remnants of the French-era hill station. Unfortunately, the Chinese have built a casino at the top, which has ruined some of the atmosphere.

Kampot Cambodia Accommodation

There is no shortage of accommodation in Kampot. There are lots of places in the centre of town. Keep in mind when you visit, that Kampot is very popular during national holidays and Cambodia has a lot of national holidays. You may need to book ahead. See our page on how to book the best hotels. Booking a Cambodian hotel via our webpage allows us to keep the site free of charge.

There are many popular places to stay is a few kilometres out of Kampot town centre. Here, you will find numerous cheap guesthouses on the banks of the Kampot river. You can literally walk out of your room and jump in the river.

Eateries in Kampot Cambodia

As mentioned, Kampot province and Kampot town are well known for the high-quality pepper, which is exported worldwide. It is also known for its Kampot fish sauce and durian. In fact, near the market is a huge durian statue. Nearby the statue are lots of cheap restaurants.

There is no shortage of food and you can find everything from delicious pub food and restaurants to street stands selling baguettes and steamed corn on the cob. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes in and around the Kampot Night Market.

Phnom Penh to Kampot

Getting from Phnom Penh to Kampot is very straightforward. There are many bus services from Phnom Penh that operate throughout the day. The journey usually takes about four hours. If you want to go directly to Kampot, make sure you catch a bus that doesn’t go via Kep. This will add more time to your journey. There are minibus services, such as Mekong Express and Giant Ibis, which get you there faster. Private taxis are the fastest way to get there.

There is the Phnom Penh to Kampot train service; however, it takes about five hours (on a good day). It stops at Takeo, Kampot and then heads to Sihanoukville. It is interesting to try it once. You can see the Cambodian countryside and people from the train, but I wouldn’t recommend it more than once.

From Sihanoukville, you need to travel by taxi or minibus. In addition, if you want to visit Kep then it is only a 30-minute drive from Kampot. It is also an enjoyable motorbike ride from Kampot.

Kampong thom cambodia

Kampong Thom | An Amazing Bus Stop

Kampong Thom | An Amazing Bus Stop

Kampong thom cambodia

People rushing from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap usually miss Kampong Thom even though the bus stops here for one of the many breaks the bus driver enjoys taking: Maybe that’s is why people miss it. Here there are exotic lakes, rivers, forests, mountains, and more than 200 ancient temples. This place is Kampong Thom and is definitely worth staying a couple of days to see what’s going on.

At first Kampong Thom Province might seem unassuming. The bus dumps you off in front of a glitzy hotel full of Cambodian diners. Its best feature is the toilet! Near the hotel are a couple of cheap and cheerful guesthouses if you choose to stay overnight.

The Old Governors House

Kampong Thom town itself has a few places of interest. The old governors house from the French colonial era can be visited. It is an old house rather than a house full of old governors. This colonial building can be found behind the market. To get in, you have to squeeze through the main gate and with a bit of luck the front door will be unlocked: it does happen. The house is empty with only a few fittings remaining. However, the house has a Sleepy Hollow feel to it. To add to the eeriness, there is also a colony of fruit bats that roost in the grounds.

Kampong Thom Museum

Another place worth a visit is the Kampong Thom museum, if for no other reason, it will give you an interesting introduction to Khmer architecture. As you try to find it, don’t blink because you might miss it. It is on the main drag near the main temple. I went there one blistering hot afternoon and the door was shut. I was sure I had the opening times right. I was about to leave when a voice blurted out of the shadows, “Do want to go in?”

The man was Virak the museum attendant. He and his mates were having a siesta. For a small museum, it is packed with artefacts and information. A lot of the stone works were lintels and Virak explained that from the lintels a person can determine during what period the building was constructed. One wall had a giant map stuck to it, and it was peppered with red dots.

“They are the sites of temples. You know, Cambodia has more than eight thousand temples,” explained Virak.

He let that sink in then added, “Although there are a lot of big ones, like Angkor Wat, but a lot are just a pile of bricks in a rice field.”

The French Influence?

I landed him a question about the French discovery of Angkor and he replied, “The French discovered nothing, the Khmers have always been at Angkor.”

Kampong Thom Temples

Although 200 temples would drive the keenest archaeologist mad, there are a few a visitor can see and enjoy, and there is an Angkorian bridge in the neighbourhood. Nearby Prasat Sambor Prei Kuk is definitely worth a visit and the mountain-top Phnom Santuk is another worth taking the time to see. There are also the Praying Rain temple and the Floating Temple, but I’ll let the inquisitive investigate those two.

Sambor Prei Kuk


Sambor Prei Kuk is a pre-Angkorian site with temples scattered about a large area. Sambor Prei Kuk was built during the Chenla Kingdom (late 6th to 9th century), established by king Isanavarman I as a central royal sanctuary and capital, known then as Isanapura. It is a good 30 kilometres out of town, so take at least half a day to see Sambor Prei Kuk. As a Chenla and pre-Angkorian temple, Sambor Prei Kuk will whet your appetite for the monumental buildings at Angkor.

Phnom Santuk

Phnom Santuk is a clash of kitsch and tasteful, a recurring theme at many of Cambodia’s temples, as the colourful, maybe hand-sculptured, concrete statues peppered around the place add a macabre atmosphere to Phnom Santuk. The best time to go is late afternoon so you can catch the sunset. The view and the sun setting over the rice fields is spectacular. There are quite a few statues of Buddha on the mountain. One is 10 metres long and quite impressive. Next to Phnom Tantuk is Phnom Srah Kmao, which has a brick temple and a bat cave.

Spean Preah Toeus

One other Angkorian site to visit is the bridge Spean Preah Toeus. It is a bit of a hike northwest of Kamphong Thom. It is still used today by local traffic; although, I’m not sure how the bridge would handle a semi-trailer. The bridge is on the 5,000 Riel note. An interesting side note is that King Sihanouk is on the other side.

On the way back from the bridge you can enjoy relaxing at a lake. Here there are huts where you can kick back for a few hours and be served cheap food and drinks.

Pol Pot’s Birth Place

One of Kampong Thom’s more notorious sons is Saloth Sar, or Pol Pot, former Khmer Rouge dictator and Prime Minister. Just outside of the town is the unassuming village of Prek Sbauv. It is like any other village in Cambodia except it was the birth place of Pol Pot. It is possible to go there on a motorcycle.

Kampong Thom Boat

One way to leave Kampong Thom is by boat. The boatman waits under the main bridge; time unknown but in the morning at some point. He goes to the Ton Le Sap along the Steung Saen river and is reported to dock at Kampong Chhnang.

Kampong Thom to Siem Reap

For those seeking an alternate route to Siem Reap from Kampong Thom, there are motorcycle riders who wait at the bus stop and will take you north through the jungle, rice fields and villages. With you sitting on the back of the bike, your driver will take you to a village where you spend a night with a family and visit the temples of Preah Khan and Koh Ker on your way. Part of the journey leads you along an old Angkorian road and over its ancient bridges. The ride itself is tough and takes a couple of days. Then onto Preah Vihear, and from there you will head to Siem Reap via Anlong Veng,

And those heading to Phnom Penh, have a pleasant journey.

pol pot is now in anlong veng camboda

Anlong Veng | Last Bastion of a Dictator

Anlong Veng And Pol Pot

anlong veng cambodia

If you visit Preah Vihear, an alternative route back to the hustle and bustle of the real world is via the town of Anlong Veng. this is a big detour along Cambodia’s northern border, travelling across Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey provinces. Now, this dusty off-the-beaten track town is not exactly on the tourist trail, but it is a place to visit and see where one of the twentieth century’s most notorious tyrants and butchers saw his last stand.

Another private taxi, another ride blazing along the roads of northern Cambodia, and another fighting cock, which if you are lucky will get plonked on your lap for part of the ride. Private taxis are one of the few ways to get to the town, as regular bus services are erratic and problematic. Of course, you could hire a motorcycle to get you there.

One other fact: for a more comfortable taxi ride it is possible to get the front passenger seat to yourself. However, the price is twice as much as you occupy space for two people. At first thought this may seem unfair then you think “you should feel lucky that you’re not charged for four or five people”.

Anlong Veng

The taxi pulls up in the centre of town, which is handy. Anlong Veng is a bit short on five-star hotels, but, apart from a few beaten up guesthouses along the main drag, there is a comfortable-looking guesthouse on the road into town, which you can see on the way in. It is on the right as you walk out of town. It isn’t the place on the left, with the nefarious name of October Guesthouse, which might allude to a certain revolution and some other more ominous connections.

The town isn’t big, in fact you could throw a stone across its width. However, it packs a wealth of history and has earned a rather dark place in the annals of history.

No matter which way you come into Anlong Veng it will have been a long trek. Stay a couple of nights and take in what the town has to offer. While sleepy during the day, at night the shops along the main street come alive and there is a lot of food to be had. All kinds of pork and chicken dishes along with rice or noodles. Most of the shops even open for breakfast. Anyway, tomorrow it’s off to see what Anlong Veng is about.

The Dictator’s Grave

resting place of pol pot in along veng

First thing in the morning was a trip to why this place is notorious. The motorcycle heads up the Dangrek Range, just out of town, into the forest of casinos that marks the Cambodia-Thai border, around a corner, down a road and nestled in a clearing is a rusty corrugated iron roof; a mini-shed with no sides. At the entrance is nobody, but as you make your move to enter this sanctuary an old lady, ninety if she’s a day, springs out of nowhere ninja-like with her hand outstretched demanding an entrance fee.

Inside there is a grave obscured by weeds and there is no indication of the activities of Saloth Sar, better known as Pol Pot. A shrine has been set up nearby and the grave has flowers in front of it. Here lies Brother Number One. Once the leader of the Khmer Rouge and now dust in the wind. But why would somebody place flowers at his grave.

After staying in town for a while, you start to think where people’s loyalties lie. The Khmer Rouge occupied the town for so long and the thought may cross your mind that on the surface the people are glad to be rid of the Khmer Rouge, but how many supported them and miss them. Probably few, maybe this will never be answered. Although you can bet that some of the old guard are still lurking.

Pol Pot Fell Off The Perch In 1998.

His body was torched, and the remains thrown in this shallow grave. A rather inglorious end for the former leader of the Angkar and the ‘revolution’. Even in death there was controversy. Some say he committed suicide rather than be handed over to the Americans. His second, Ta Mok, denied the allegations claiming he died of a heart attack.

Apparently, there is a Killing Fields not far from grave. However, the motorcycle man was reluctant to go there, indicating there were still mines in the area. Later on, a Cambodian said that probably the real reason for his reluctance was the man’s fear of spirits that he believed haunted the area. Who knows, maybe there isn’t a Killing Fields.

The Butcher Ta Mok

Another notorious figure who lived in town was Ta Mok (Uncle Mok), or Brother Number Five. He also went by the moniker the Butcher. The reasons for the latter become obvious when you visit his abandoned Anlong Veng house.

As you pull up in the house of Ta Mok’s front yard, there is an old wrecked truck. It is a wireless truck that has been left to rot. Maybe he used it to listen to enemies or the Voice of America.

More telling are some cages that can be seen outside his house. They were probably originally used to house pigs but then used for another function. How many people could be squeezed into these to await their fate is anyone’s guess. Most likely poked, prodded and yelled at while they cooked in the sun.

The interior walls of this house are painted with images of Angkor, a map of Cambodia, and other temples. He was reportedly likened to a little Napoleon. Perhaps these images were his thoughts of being an Angkorian king ruling over Cambodia.

One room has a hole in the floor. Apparently, Ta Mok would torture prisoners then throw them down this dark hole into a room with no windows. Using a ground-floor door to enter the dark room is eerie. It is not a place a person would want to stay in for too long.

Go out to the balcony and a great expanse of water presents itself. The flooded areas were to prevent enemy forces invading the area. The dead tree trunks that pepper the water give it a surreal and eerie quality.

Eventually, Ta Mok was caught then imprisoned in his home town of Takeo; justice was cheated by his death. Curiosity satisfied, and some questions answered it was time to leave the town.

From Anlong Veng it is possible to cross the border into Thailand at a couple of crossings. It is also possible to travel onto Siem Reap via Phnom Koulen and Banteay Srei.

Sihanoukville in Cambodia

Sihanoukville in Cambodia | An Awesome Personal Experience

Sihanoukville in Cambodia: Beaches, the New Macao

Sihanoukville in Cambodia

The town of Sihanoukville in Cambodia, or Kompong Som, is a coastal destination south of Phnom Penh: it is also known as “Snooky”. While this dusty and hilly place won’t win any beautiful-town competitions with its excessive and often unwanted development and dozens of casinos, it does have one draw card.

The centre of Sihanoukville itself doesn’t offer much to see. On the upside, the edge of town has the Otres Marina situated on the Ou Tro Jet river mangrove swamp and Otres temple can be visited. But the jewel in the crown and the best attraction is that Sihanoukville has most of Cambodia’s best beaches. It is also a great place to kick back and spend some time from the heat of the interior.

Sihanoukville in Cambodia, a Short Story

In a country with a rich history, Sihanoukville in Cambodia has had a rather short and checkered track record.  Fifty or so years ago, a French-Cambodian construction company cleared the jungle and swamp then built a camp. It soon started building the first deep-water port in the country. Named after the prince, Sihanoukville quickly become a destination for Cambodia’s elite who enjoyed the beaches.  also became home to Angkor Beer brewery “My Country My Beer”, and the seven-story Independence Hotel was thrown up there; local legend has it that Jaqueline Kennedy stayed there when she visited Cambodia in 1967.

Then in 1970, Sihanouk was deposed in a coup and Cambodia descended into civil war. To add insult to injury, the Lon Nol government renamed the town Kompong Som and dark days descended on the place. The Khmer Rouge soon took over and the beaches became a ghost town. Even after the Vietnamese drove the Khmer Rouge from power, the road from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville was a dangerous place and notorious for kidnappings, hold ups and Khmer Rouge activity.

It took time for people to return to Sihanoukville. But after the Vietnamese occupation, UNTAC engineered election in 1993, and the collapse of the Khmer Rouge, the town has slowly come to life. More and more visitors now go to Sihanoukville. In recent years, Chinese businesses and tourists have flooded in.

Beaches in Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville in Cambodia

The main draw card is the beaches. Except for Serendipity, they are not nearly as crowded as those in nearby Thailand. However, crowds flock here on weekends and holidays.

To start with, there are two beaches south of the commercial port; Victory and Independence Beaches. The first, Victory beach, has plenty of budget accommodation on nearby Weather Station Hill. A bit further south is Independence Beach. It is also known as “7-chann beach” after the seven-storey Independence Hotel found here.

Continuing south you’ll find Sokha Beach. The beach is owned by Sokha Beach Resort. It is possible to use the beach but be prepared to pay a few dollars if a staff member spots you. This beach is maintained and kept clean and being private you won’t have people begging or trying to sell you something. There is a smaller beach next to Sokha which is public and rarely used. It is just next to the road as it goes up the hill to town and the main beaches.

The most popular and developed tourist beach is Ochheuteal. Chnay Occheuteal is a long and narrow strip of white sand beach. The northern end is misleadingly called Serendipity Beach. Why it has a separate name is unclear as the reality is that it is all the same beach. In fact, there are three main areas: the beach itself, the road running parallel to the beach and the road running perpendicular from the dock at Serendipity Beach up to a huge traffic circle. Ferries use the dock to go to the nearby islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. The boats several times per day from the dock. You can take a slow boat, speed ferry or make a day out and go on a tour boat.

At Ochheutal there are numerous hotels, guest houses, beach huts, minimarts and a vibrant nightlife. So, it gets crowded during the day, night and into the wee hours of the morning. In the daytime people hire the deckchairs that carpet the beach then soak up the sun and water. Here there are many food stalls and restaurants serving grilled meat, chicken and seafood with chips/fries and a beer for US$3-4. Unfortunately, the water is not so good in this area and theft is a problem on the beach, so do not leave any valuables unattended.

At night, the many restaurants lining the beachfront are crowded with people trying the huge variety of seafood places. In fact, there are many good restaurants in town as well. Sihanoukville has a surprisingly diverse set of cuisines.

Ochheutal has also seen a hive of activity in the construction of hotels and casinos which like to cater to Chinese tourists. There are officially 42 casinos, but it is believed there is closer to 85. Cambodians are refused entry and westerners are a rare sight. This development is a closed economic loop in which Chinese tourists patronise only Chinese-owned businesses who prefer Chinese workers which means locals are being cut out of the action and squeezed out of their own town.

As you go south along Ochheuteal Beach the restaurants, chairs and other amenities thin out. Eventually, it is a beach with few people on it. There is the occasional store where food and drink can be bought. A great area to escape the mob.

At the southern end of Ochheuteal Beach, there is a small hill and on the other side is Otres Beach, actually Otres 1 and 2. This amazing four-kilometre stretch of white sand and clear water is less crowded and much more relaxed than other beaches.

Along this beach are dotted bars, restaurants and guest houses. It is a great place to laze about soaking up the sun or enjoy a swim. The water here is wonderful.  The southern end of this beach is Otres 2 and ends at the marina which provides boats and charters for the river and the sea. Otres 2 is famed for its sunsets and mangroves on the Ou Trojak Jet river. If you’re feeling adventurous, on the other side of the river is Otres 3.

Distances between the beaches are a little too long to walk comfortably but getting around is easy. A fantastic way to visit the beaches is by bicycle. The more ambitious can take cycling trips up into the hilly outskirts of town or in town: Sihanoukville is quite bumpy. Of course, there is an abundance of motorcycle taxis and tuk tuks. Taxis can also be hired.

If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of places such as Phnom Penh or the mostly hot and dusty places in Cambodia, then Sihanoukville in Cambodia is just the place.

pailin western cambodia

Pailin Cambodia A Wild West Frontier

Pailin Is Cambodia’s Wild West

One of Cambodia’s out-of-the-way destinations is Pailin Province. Few foreigners get here, which is reason enough to put the province in your travel planner. The area has a long history, and although Pailin City is small with a wild-west flavour, there are plenty of places to visit in and around town.

Pailin is Cambodia’s second smallest province and is in Western Cambodia. Pailin City is nestled in a picturesque valley with magnificent sunsets over mountains that separate Cambodia and nearby Thailand. The town is also located in the foothills of Chuor Phnom Kravanh, which is part of the Cardamom Mountains making the south of the municipality quite hilly. There are also a number of smaller rivers coming from the mountain range. These places provide lots of opportunities to visit waterfalls and rivers for cool afternoon swims, nature and wildlife reserves, and local villages.

A Brief History of Pailin

Once a part of the powerful Khmer Empire, Pailin was conquered in 1558 by the Burmese under Bayinnaung and later ruled by the Siamese until 1946 when it was returned to Cambodia: it was known to the Thais as “Phailin”.

Since the war, Pailin has suffered an economic depression and the failure of most local businesses. However, since the area has recently stabilised politically, it is now seeing a new wave of tourism focused on its ancient temples, natural forests and wildlife, and the gem market.

In 2001, Pailin was officially separated from Battambang to become a province and separate administrative division: a process started after the surrender of the Ieng Sary faction of the Khmer Rouge in 1996. More on this crew later.

Don’t be Alarmed

If you’re planning a visit to the area, especially the countryside around Pailin City, land mines are a concern. In fact, Pailin is located in one of the most heavily mined areas in the world.  Land mines have plagued Cambodia for decades as a result of the devices being used extensively during three decades of war; Pailin still remains a hot zone for mines. While Pailin is definitely worth visiting, people are cautioned to stay on marked roads. De-mining is ongoing, and if you decide to visit any out-of-the-way places then check if it is safe. The locals will know.

A major cause of these mines was the Khmer Rouge.

pailin western cambodia

Khmer Rouge Invasion, Occupation and Defeat … or Not

Pailin remained under Khmer Rouge control long after they were defeated in 1979 and it served from 1994 to 1998 as the capital of the “Provisional Government of National Union and National Salvation of Cambodia.” During the 1980s and 1990s, the city was a key Khmer Rouge strongpoint and resources centre.

Pailin is known to much of the world as the area where many Khmer Rouge leaders came from and retreated to after the murderous regime fell. Even after the death of their leader Pol Pot in 1998, many Khmer Rouge leaders stayed on.

Fearing punishment for their crimes, some leaders went into hiding, while other leaders brashly lived openly in the province. Estimates are that almost 70 percent of the area’s older men were Khmer Rouge fighters: few have been brought to justice. However, Pailin’s last Khmer Rouge leaders have been rounded for their time in court. These men included Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea.

Goodbye Good Times

In the early 1970s, Pailin was a prosperous town stemming from the extensive gem deposits in the surrounding countryside. Because of its resources, it was one of the first cities invaded by the Khmer Rouge. The city offered no resistance and Khmer Rouge soldiers were greeted as liberators. Meanwhile, deposed King Sihanouk had allied himself with the Khmer Rouge and most locals believed that they were fighting to restore him to power. It was not long; however, before locals were forced march to the countryside to work in rice paddies. Many of those people were never seen again.

Pailin became the major revenue source for the Khmer Rouge through the exploitation of the provinces rich supply of gems and being a prime logging area. The Khmer Rouge used proceeds from mining and logging in the Pailin area to bankroll their initial campaign and later Democratic Kampuchea once they seized power.

When the Vietnamese Army ousted the Khmer Rouge from power, the Khmer Rouge retreated to Pailin.

Not to be deterred, the guerrilla group continued the fight against the Vietnamese and even invested some money from the production of natural resources in Casinos.

Unfortunately, by the time the Khmer Rouge had been dislodged from Pailin they had almost mined out the gems and deforested the area. Nowadays all you can find is low-quality, cheap, hand-faceted gemstones at the market in downtown Pailin.

Beyond the Dark Days In Pailin

These days Pailin is a much different place. In fact, the locals seem happy to see a foreigner means that not only money is coming in but also a sense of normalcy is returning to the area.

The town has a number of interesting places to visit including Wat Gohng-Kahng, and Wat Phnom Yat and at its base Wat Rattanak Sophoan.

The people of Pailin are Kola. These are descendants of Burmese immigrants who settled in the area from the late nineteenth century. Another group of people, the Shan, arrived a bit later. As a result, the people of Pailin are different from other parts of Cambodia. This difference can be seen in the cuisine and the clothes.

The best parts of Pailin are outside the main city, and the best way to see these places is by bicycle. For more on Pailin read Cyclebodia: Wild West Pailin.

apsara dancing cambodia

Cambodian Dance And Martial Arts

Cambodian Dance And Martial Arts

apsara dancing cambodia

Two of Cambodia’s ancient traditions are, on the one hand, well known, and on the other hand, mysterious. The former is Apsara dancing, a delicate style of dancing also known as classical Khmer ballet. The latter is Khmer Martial Arts. Both stem from Cambodia’s distant past and have developed over the centuries into unique art forms.


Apsaras are the nymphs you can see carved as statues or in bas-reliefs all over Angkor. Not only can Apsaras been seen at Angkor but also at temples such as the seventh-century Sambor Prei Kuk temples in Kampong Thom province. As you can see the Apsara Dance has been part of Khmer culture for well over a millennium.

A visit to neighbouring countries, such as Thailand, will reveal the influence of the Khmer civilisation through art forms such as the Apsara dance.

The name actually means heavenly woman and these deities originally herald from Hindu mythology. In those Indian stories, these Apsaras are beautiful and supernatural female beings. They are also masterful dancers. They also, on occasion, seduce gods and men and not necessarily in that order.

There is a highly stylised form of the dance which at one time was exclusively performed at the royal palace and performed mainly by females. It was known as Robam Apsara, and the dancers of this style are often simply called Apsara dancers. In fact, there are many classical dance styles in the Kingdom.

The carvings at Angkor represented some 1,500 Apsaras in different poses representing love, passion and other emotions: it is a very subtle and intricate dance style.

Cambodian Living Arts puts on evening shows at the National Museum in Phnom Penh, which takes in many traditional arts, including Cambodian ballet. There are also a host of venues in Siem Reap that hold performances and some offer dining. If you are lucky, and in the vicinity, you can catch Apsara dancers practicing in the courtyard of the Royal University of Fine Arts, just behind the National Museum.

Also, a visit to Cambodia isn’t complete until you have attended an Apsara dance. It is a memorable occasion and the performance will leave an indelible memory.

Cambodian Martial Arts

cambodian martial arts boxing

Little known to foreigners are Khmer Martial Arts, or “Kbach Kun Khmer Boran”. This tradition also stretches back more than a thousand years. Once again, carvings and bas-reliefs on the Angkor temples provide evidence of the antiquity of this type of martial arts. The carvings reveal fierce competitions between combatants poised with stern looks on their faces and ready to strike down an opponent, or people grappling with each other attempting to throw down the other person. Originally used in combat, where it earned Khmer soldiers a fierce reputation, it is now used for sport and, if necessary, self-defence. The codes include Bokator, Pradal Serey, Baok Chambab, Kbach Kun Dambong Vèng, amongst others.

Khmer Pradal Serey

This fighting style is traditional Khmer kick boxing, a sport very popular with locals. When bouts are held, all you have to do is wander the streets of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap or any town to determine its popularity. Many cafés and restaurants are crowded with mostly men shouting and cheering the fighters. At first you might think a brawl has broken out, but Cambodians are cheering on their champion, usually with a wager attached.

A match consists of five rounds and takes place in a boxing ring. There is a one- or two-minute break between rounds. Before the match starts, boxers perform praying rituals known as Kun Krou. During the match, traditional Cambodian music is played using a drum, the Skor Yaul, a flute-like instrument, the Sralai, and the stringed Chhing.

And the fighting is fierce. Boxers train intensely for years to reach the top of their game. When they fight, they no prisoners. Powerful kicks and punches are landed on each boxer and they have to keep moving, a kind of dance, around the ring to keep their opponent on their toes.

Victory is awarded when a boxer delivers a knockout blow or a boxer is knocked down. If the downed boxer is unable to continue the fight after a 10-second count by the referee, it’s game over. Victory is also decided at the end of the match when judges decide by points which fighter was more dominant. If the points are even, a draw is called.

So, interested in seeing a live match then ask the people at the place you are staying or a local Tuk Tuk driver which TV station is staging a fight. Usually, it’s TV5 on Fridays and Saturdays, Bayon and CTN on Saturdays and Sundays. The CTN studio is only six kilometres form the centre of town, a short ride past the Chroy Changvar Bridge, and is the easiest to get to. When you get there, walk to the warehouse and find a good seat to view the match. If you want to get closer to the ring, it is standing room only.

Khmer Bokator

One of the oldest Cambodian martial arts, Bokator is said to be the close-quarter combat system used by soldiers during the Angkor era, and formidable opponents these soldiers would have been. The style, known formally as Labokatao, involves close hand-to-hand combat, ground techniques and weapons. Weapons include knives, poles, bow and arrows, and … scarves.

Practitioners are trained to attack with knees, elbows, hands, feet and even the head with blows to the legs, torso and head. People often cringe when they see a fighter bury his knee in an opponent’s ribs. Fighters can attack straight on or, literally, fly in and land a blow to the opponent’s head or shoulders.

Baok Chambab

This style is Khmer wrestling; a sport where two fighters try to pin down the other’s back to the ground. A match has of three rounds. Before the match, wrestlers perform ritual dancing. A wrestler wins a match by two out of three rounds. However, after each round, the loser is asked by the referee if he still wishes to continue with the match.

As is the case with many Khmer Martial Arts competitions, a Baok Chambab match is accompanied by traditional music: there are two drums, male and female ones known as Skor Nhy and Chhmol. Traditional matches are held at the Cambodian National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh during the Khmer New Year and other Cambodian holidays.

Kbach Kun Dambong Vèng

This style refers to an ancient Cambodian martial art form involving the use of a long staff. It has traditionally been practiced in preparation against enemies who attack villages. Now, it is popular with youths in Cambodian sports clubs.

oudong cambodia

Oudong Cambodia | An Ancient Capital

Oudong Was The Capital of Cambodia In Bygone Days

oudong cambodia

While in Phnom Penh why not visit Cambodia’s former capital of Oudong. This ancient site is within striking distance of Phnom Penh being only 40 kilometres northwest of the capital and close to the western bank of the Tonle Sap River. It is also straightforward to get to and easy to find as the mountain, topped with stupas, juts out from the surrounding plain like a fairy-tale castle.

Oudong: Cambodia’s Former Capital

Oudong used to be the royal capital from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Oudong means “victorious”; however, during its time as Cambodia’s capital under several rulers “victorious” was a euphemism, as Cambodia was in perilous decline.

The main attractions today are the twin mountains of Phnom Oudong, which are connected by a ridge and dotted with stupas and shrines dedicated to former kings. One temple, Chedi Mouk Pruhm, is the burial site of King Monivong. One of the ruins, Arthross Temple, houses a large golden Buddha. Several kings, including King Norodom Sihanouk, were crowned here. Phnom Oudong is also a tranquil place of worship for Cambodians.

How To Get To Oudong

To get to Oudong is a straightforward trek along National Highway 5. One way to get there is by Tuk Tuk. Depending on the season it can be a dusty ride or a wet one and can take up to two hours, which is a long time considering the short distance. But, for $15 to $20 round trip it’s a good deal. Or, you could hire a car and driver for $40 to $45 return.

An interesting way to get there is by shared taxi from Sorya Bus terminal. These taxis only leave when full, and full means cramming 12 people into a four-door Toyota. Then there is the northbound bus. You’ll get dropped off at Oudong town, which is still some distance from Phnom Oudong and requires another motorcycle or Tuk Tuk ride, and once there you will have to find a way back.

Also, along route 5 there are silversmithing villages. A hangover from the days when kings and nobility used to come to the Tonle Sap river to bathe and subjects would offer them gifts fashioned from the precious metal.

Oudong Mountain

Admission to the mountain is free and is best visited during the week as Phnom Oudong gets crowded with locals at weekends, who descend on the mountain to eat roast chicken, fish and palm fruit in the cool of the surrounding forest. However, you’ll find that foreign tourists are few and far between at any time.

You’ll be dropped off at a stairway at the base of the hill, where there is a memorial to local victims of the Khmer Rouge. It contains bones from almost a hundred mass graves in the Oudong area. A neighbouring pavilion has murals painted on the walls depicting Khmer Rouge atrocities.

From here, there is a climb up about 500 steps. Watch out for kids who pester visitors to hire them as tour guides.

The mountain itself runs from southeast to northeast, with a low dip in the middle. Khmers believe it has the shape of a Naga. Both ends of the ridge have stunning vistas of the Cambodian countryside dotted with lots of sugar-palm trees, rice paddies and the odd temple. To the west of the hill there is the huge modern Kandal pagoda. The interior is a good example of a present-day Cambodian Theravada Buddhist prayer hall.

The stupas and shrines dotting the ridge are dedicated to former kings, so the former capital is a kind of necropolis. One shrine, Chedi Mouk Pruhm, is the burial site of King Monivong. One of the ruins, Arthross Temple, houses a large golden Buddha. The pagodas are quite stunning, with intricate carvings displaying a cross section of Buddhist and Hindu motifs.

The larger main ridge is known as Phnom Preah Reach Throap, or Hill of the Royal Fortune. The name comes from the belief that a 16th-century Khmer king hid the national treasury here during a war with the Thais.

The city was established in 1601 by King Srei Soryopor, who is also known as Barom Reachea IV, after Thais had attacked the former capital Lovek. In 1618 the city formally became the capital, and it was officially called Oudong Meanchey. Many Cambodian kings of the following two and a half centuries were crowned in Oudong; the last one was King Norodom.

Chinese King in Oudong

In the eighteenth century, locals say a Chinese king sent his people across Asia to identify potential threats. When they came to Oudong, they discovered a Naga-shaped mountain, a cavern on top of the Arthross end, and observed the wealth and power of Khmers. Upon their return, they told their king that the Khmers were a powerful race, and should a Naga appear through the cavern of Arthross, they would be strong enough to rule the world.

The Chinese king was alarmed at this revelation but didn’t want a war. Instead, he asked the Khmer king if he could build a temple above the cavern with the Buddha facing towards China to protect the kingdom. It was named Arthaross temple, or 18 corners as there are 18 points, or corners, built into the structure. This temple also stood 18 hats high, a Khmer measurement for the length of an arm from elbow to fingertips. One hat is about half a meter.

Arthaross temple contains the remnants of a large Buddha statue that was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge and is now a few hats less. The statue is unique because the Buddha faces north instead of the traditional east and is said to depict the power of the Khmer Empire at the time.

Behind Arthross is Chker Amao stupa. Chker Amao was the dog of the head monk of Preah Sokhun Mean Bon. He was apparently so clever that the monk could send him shopping with a list tied to his collar and the dog would walk from market stall to market stall, collect the shopping, then bring it home. When he died he was reincarnated as the son of a Chinese king.

At the very point of the mountain, a huge stupa is just in the final stages of construction. This is probably where the Buddha relics, once housed in the vihara outside Phnom Penh train station, will be placed.

Across on the smaller ridge is Ta Sann Mosque.

Cambodian Food

After visiting the mountain, you will be hungry, especially after the climb up and down the stairs. Go to one of the local restaurants at the bottom of the hill. There you will find local eateries with lots of traditional Cambodian food at local prices.

Oudong remains a sacred place for Cambodians, where a huge stupa has recently been built to store and conserve the relic of Preah Serei Roek Theat, the Ash of the Buddha.

ratanakiri province cambodia

Ratanakiri Cambodia – The Frontier Province

6 Cambodian eco tour destinations

Ratanakiri is most definitely one of the more “out there” destinations in Cambodia. The town’s name is derived from the two Sanskrit words, Ratna which stands for gems and Giri which stands for mountains, items much in demand and the cause of demise. Located in the far northeast of the Kingdom, Ratanakiri province is an adventure getting there but is undeniably worth the effort. From Ratanakiri Cambodia, you are within striking distance of Vietnam, Laos, and some of the other more adventurous areas of Cambodia. It is also one of the few places you can see tribal villages.

Banlung is the provincial capital, however it used to be Lumphat. The reason for this depends on who you talk to. To find out more about Ratanakiri and why you should visit, read on.

The Bumpy Journey To Ratanakiri

Many buses head to the provincial capital. However, it is a bone-rattling 13-hour ride on some of Cambodia’s worst roads. If you are thinking about a visit, you might consider breaking up the journey with stops in the picturesque town of Kratie (pronounced Kra-chay) and Stung Treng. While both towns are situated on the Mekong, Stung Treng is at the confluence of the Mekong and Sesan rivers. There is a ferry that crosses the Mekong at Stung Treng, but there is also a bridge, both of which link to Preah Vihear Province on the other side of the Mekong.

There are mini-buses that plough the Phnom Penh-Banlung road. However, be prepared to be squeezed into a bus with 30 people, baggage, and farm animals. There is another way, but we will talk about that later.

Ratanakiri Cambodia

Stopping Off At Banlung On The Road To Ratanakiri

If you decide to complete the journey in one go then you will have to start early and finish in the evening. However, don’t worry, you will be greeted in Banlung by hotel touts and Tuk Tuk drivers who will get you to a hotel. The hotels around the lake in the centre of town are perfect. You should organise your own motorcycle as it makes it much easier getting around to all the different and unique places of interest.

What makes these hotels fantastic is breakfast. Nothing quite like looking out over a lake while sitting in a restaurant eating fruit and warm baguettes and drinking brewed coffee.

Banlung is a smallish place. It seems to serve more as a truck stop on the Vietnam-Cambodia transport route. Nonetheless, it is pleasant to cruise around the town taking in the ambience. Most of what is on offer is outside the town.

Water and Ghosts

One of the first places you might like to drift to is Boeng Yeak Loam, or Yak Lom Lake. This is about five kilometres to the south of town. You can walk there, but a bicycle is a good alternative. Once you get there, grab one of the lakeside decks and enjoy the cool water. The lake is set in the jungle, and it is possible to use walking trails to wander through the jungle. But beware of a spirit that is said to live in the lake.

In fact, water is a big feature of the province. There are many waterfalls that can be visited. It would be best to grab a motorcycle or bike to see these places. Many of the waterfalls are great places for swimming. Your hotel should be able to tell you how to get to any waterfall, and some hotels even have a map. Some waterfalls to visit include Ka Chanh Waterfall, which is about six kilometres southeast of Ban Lung; Ka Tieng Waterfall, is about an hour out of town; Cha Ong Waterfall, is two kilometres west of town; and Ou Sensranoh Waterfall, is situated nine kilometres south of town. Just make sure you check with locals if the waterfall is working, as some dry up in the dry season.

Heart of Darkness

Ratanakiri Province also has a bit of a nefarious past. Down the road is Lumphat, on the banks of the Srepok river, and it used to be a Khmer Rouge stronghold and capital. The Ho Chi-Minh Trail also ran through the province. As a result, the town and countryside were heavily bombed by the US. There are plenty of bomb craters in the area and some have even become ponds. There are still some buildings in town pockmarked with shrapnel, bullet holes and rocket fire. There are also unexploded bombs in the area, so be careful where you step.

It is also claimed that the Srepok River was the model for the river on which Captain Willard and his jolly crew went to meet their destiny with Colonel Kurtz in the movie Apocalypse Now. Go there and see what you think; but, if you haven’t, see the movie first.

Veal Rum Plan

Another place to consider seeing is Veal Rum Plan, or Stone Field. It is located 14 kilometres north of Banlung. Here, there are stones covering the entire surface of the place. Dense stone outgrowths are around here. This place has an unusual appeal which fascinates visitors. Stone Field is a bizarre space in the forest, covered almost entirely by stone. The area is a circular area of flat stone. It is thought the area is the remains of cooled lava. As with many places in Cambodia, there is a legend associated with the Veal Rum Plan. According to the legend, Veal Rum was a young boy who had a tragic accident here. While trying to retrieve his kite, he fell from a tree onto a black volcanic rock. His spirit lives on, offering a protective blanket to the plateau and surrounding trees.

While this is not a complete list of “what to do” in Ratanakiri, it will certainly whet your appetite for more.

Getting To Vietnam From Ratanakiri

When you leave, if you plan to go to Vietnam, you need to have a visa. It is only about 70 kilometres to the border, and there are different types of transport to get there. If you go to Laos, you can pick up a visa on the border, just take plenty of small money and some passport-sized photos. The border guards will ask for photos and charge you if you don’t have any. There are also the “taxes” they hit you with. Do not protest, as there are no places to stay on the border. Pay the taxes as part of the cost on international travel. You know it makes sense

Ratanakiri to Mondulkiri Via Highway Of Death!

Now the other to-and-from Ratanakiri route is the recently upgraded road through the Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary. Via this way, you can also pop into Mondulkiri Province. From Banlung, this will take you back to Lumphat and over the bridge that crosses the Srepok River. The road, formally known as the “Highway of Death”, and don’t let that scare you, is now an upgraded road through the rainforest. But if you choose this way then be quick; the sanctuary is part of Cambodia’s rapidly disappearing forests and wildlife.

Mondulkiri Water Falls

Travelers Guide To The Awesome Mondulkiri Water Falls

Travelers Guide To The Awesome Mondulkiri Water Falls

Cambodia’s Great Escape | Mondulkiri Water Falls

Cambodia can be hot, uncomfortably hot. In fact, some people describe the seasons as hotter or hottest. To escape that, there is a place you can go: Mondulkiri. But it is more than just about cool weather and cool places. This is where there are rugged hills with majestic Mondulkiri Water Falls, unique tribal people and a different vibe to the rest of Cambodia.

If you are the mountain bike type of person and thinking about Cambodia, this must be on your bucket list. Various difficulties of rides without blisterng heat.

Mondulkiri, loosely translated as “Mountain of Mandala”, is a province in the country’s east. It borders the provinces of Kratie to the west, Stung Treng to the northwest, Ratanakiri to the north and Vietnam to the east and south, with easy access to all. It is the largest and most sparsely populated province, despite being the biggest. Its capital is Sen Monorom.

The original wild east of Cambodia is a world apart from the lowlands with not a rice paddy or palm tree in sight, and the province abounds in natural beauty.

The People of Mondulkiri

It is home to the hardy Bunong people (or Pnong) and their noble elephants, and add to that communities of hill tribe peoples, who are not affected by mass-tourism, and you have an area that is very appealing for people wanting to get off that dusty beaten track.

Eighty percent of Mondulkiri’s population has ten tribal minorities, with the majority being the Chunchiet from the Bunong tribe. The remaining 20 percent or so being Khmer, Chinese and Cham. Most of the population lives off the land, planting rice, fruit trees and a variety of vegetables. Others grow coffee, strawberries, rubber and cashew nuts. Most of the indigenous peoples in Mondulkiri are subsistence farmers.

The Bunong have lived in the area for about 2000 years. Like other people in the country, they were displaced in the 1970s when the area fell under Khmer Rouge control. Much of the populace was forcibly removed to Koh Nhek district to provide labour. Schools, hospitals, even entire villages were destroyed, and as many as half of the people in the province died during the forced relocation.

The people were only allowed to return to their traditional lands in the 1980s.

And to throw a challenge into a challenging mix, there is an interesting blend of languages used in the area such as Khmer, hill tribe languages, Vietnamese, and Lao. So, get your dictionary ready.

Sen Monorom: The Provincial Capital of Mondulkiri

Sen Monorom is the base camp for people who want to explore the area. A quiet but beautiful town nestled in the hills. Currently, it’s undeveloped, which gives you a feeling of going somewhere isolated. At an average elevation of 800 metres, it can get downright chilly at night, so bring something warm.

However, one of the area’s main attractions is its cool climate, which offers a nice break from the heat and humidity of the Cambodian plain. Most nights are cool enough to sleep comfortably without air-conditioning or fans.

In this upland area, you will find deep primary jungle, with a huge variety of flora and fauna. The Mondulkiri Water Falls still has one of the biggest woodlands of Cambodia. There is a seductive mix of grassy hills, pine groves and rainforests of jade green and waterfalls. Wild animals, such as bears, leopards and especially elephants, are more numerous here than elsewhere, although sightings are usually limited to birds, monkeys and the occasional wild pig.

Unfortunately, due to increased logging and the exploitation of the valuable minerals remaining in the deep red and fertile ground, the area is being stripped-mined of its beauty.

The wet season is June to October and is very lush and green. If you’re trekking in the wet season, then it is the best time for viewing wildlife. July and early August can still have sunny days and dry mornings, while afternoons and evenings are usually rainy. In early March the weather gets warm, which brings on the first annual showers or “Mango rains”.

The Mondulkiri Water Falls are at their best during the wet season. Everywhere is quiet. Accomodation and flight bargains to be had.

Besides some smaller rivers, which grow quite big during the rainy season, there are bigger rivers crossing the province such as the Srepok, Preaek Chhbaar, and Preaek Te.

Water and More | Mondulkiri Water Falls

A big draw card to the area is Mondulkiri water falls. Most people travelling to Mondulkiri province head to its most famous waterfalls Bou Sra, Kbal Preah, Romanear I and II and Monorom. But what most visitors generally don’t experience are the province’s shortest and highest waterfalls.

Leng Ong and Leng Khin waterfalls are officially the province’s shortest and tallest waterfalls respectively, and in an ironic twist of fate the two places are located less than 300m apart in O’Reang district’s Pou Yam village, 26 kilometres from Sen Monorom.

Both waterfalls are covered by dense trees in a cool and calm environment. At each waterfall’s base there is a big pool where people can swim.

And the local architecture: There is a current trend to build in the Khmer style, but the traditional Bunong houses can still be found. These houses contain large jars, some of which it is claimed are more than a thousand years old, and there are also the traditional gongs. There are various gongs used at different occasions. Jars and gongs are among the most valued possessions in an indigenous community, whether in traditional, spiritual or material terms. During the time of Pol Pot those objects were buried in hidden places in the jungle and in many cases, they still wait in the ground.

When buying items in Sen Monorom, you will see lots of items from Vietnam. There is also the famous rice wine, which is one of the best in the country. Additionally, the locals sell handmade products such as bracelets, necklaces, scarfs and Kramas.

Keep in mind that when visiting there are plenty of places to stay. But during festivals and public holidays, of which there are many, accommodation in Sen Monorom is usually fully booked. At these times, expect higher accommodation and ticket prices, as well as closures or lack of some services.

Get Wet and Get Happy At The Mondulkiri Water Falls

Mondulkiri water falls are definitely a place to hang your hat when in Cambodia. We look forward to seeing you.