Sen Monorom (ក្រុងសែនមនោរម្យ) is a unique gem in Cambodia. The town has less than 8,000 inhabitants and is located in Mondulkiri province. It is one of the poorest areas of the country and only a few tourists visit this province. And that is a shame, because Sen Monorom has a number of special places to offer for tourists! You can visit small villages of the Bunong people, you can find the most beautiful waterfalls of the country and you can enjoy the beautiful hillside nature. And you can also visit one of the most important elephant sanctuaries in Asia, the Elephant Valley Project. Are you already convinced that Sen Monorom should not be missed during your trip through Cambodia? Read on and discover this gem in Cambodia…
What would you like to know about Sen Monorom in Cambodia?
- History – A brief historical introduction
- Sightseeing – 5 interesting places in Sen Monorom
- Accommodation – Where to stay?
- Transport – How to get there?
Sen Monorom – A brief historical introduction
It is a pity that not much is known about the history of this area. We do know that the Bunong people have lived in this area for at least 2000 years. They are a minority group in the country, speak their own language and most of them are Animist. Animism is a religion which believes that all beings and things on earth have a certain kind of power.
During the regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979, everyone was forced to work on the fields. In Mondulkiri, this has left its traces on the local population. Many locals were forced to move to Kaoh Nheaek to work on the rice plantations. The rulers set fire to houses left behind and anyone who resisted was killed. In the 1980s, a large part of the original population moved back and rebuilt their abandoned villages.
Sightseeing – 5 things to see and do in Sen Monorom
The town of Sen Monorom has its charm, but the sights are mainly to be found in the surrounding area. The best way to explore the area is by scooter. It gives you the freedom to do things the way you want to. Below are the 5 best attractions of Sen Monorom.
If you prefer not to ride a scooter, you can book a tour with a travel agency. On the website of Mondulkiri Eco-tourism you can find more information about it. You can also visit a village of the Bunong people, something I did not do myself. Or pay a visit to the Hefalump Café, the place where you gather when you join the Elephant Valley Project for a day.
1. Visit the Elephant Valley Project
The Elephant Valley Project was founded in 2006 by the Englishman Jack Highwood. The idea is to give elephants with a traumatic past their freedom back. This is the project where an elephant can really be an elephant again. Therefore, it is not possible to swim with or feed the animals during a visit. No, as a tourist, you support the project and you will mainly observe and hear the sad stories of the animals.
Do you still have doubts or would you like to know more about the Elephant Valley Project? Read the article Elephant Valley Project | Yes or No? | Mondulkiri, Cambodia.
2. Visit Cambodia’s most beautiful waterfall, Bou Sraa Falls
The Bou Sraa Falls, 25 kilometres northeast of Sen Monorom is perhaps the most extraordinary waterfall in Cambodia. It consists of two levels, where it is also possible to swim and bathe. The upper waterfall drops 10 metres, the one below 25 metres. Admission to the waterfall is 5000 Cambodian Riel and there are plenty of huts to relax in. But watch out for the cheeky monkeys!
3. Swimming and relaxing at Sen Monorom Falls
At a distance of 2 kilometres from the centre, you will find the Sen Monorom Falls. This small waterfall is ideal for paddling and relaxing. The entrance to this place is free. Besides this waterfall, there are many more in the area. You can also visit the Dakdam Falls, the Romnea Falls and the Pu Long Falls. Especially the last two are less accessible for tourists. However, don’t miss the Bou Sraa Falls!
4. Enjoy the view from Wat Phnom Doh Kromon and Hill Top Pagoda
For a great view of the surrounding area, head to Wat Phnom Doh Kromon and the Hill Top Pagoda. This temple is located about 3 kilometres north of the city centre and can be visited free of charge. But to be honest, you don’t care about the shrine at all. Make sure you are here at the end of the afternoon to enjoy the beautiful sunset.
5. Time for coffee? Go to a Coffee Plantation
At 4 kilometres northeast of the centre of Sen Monorom you will find the Coffee Plantation and Coffee Residence Restaurant. Here you can enjoy a delicious coffee in the restaurant which is situated along a beautiful lake. In addition, you can always ask the owners for explanations about the coffee plantations. Are you going to the Bou Sraa waterfall by scooter? Then you drive past it automatically!
Accommodation – Where to stay in Sen Monorom?
Sen Monorom is a place with a small centre and some nice hotels, hostels and guesthouses. In general, the accommodation is cheap and very affordable. But if you really want more luxury, choose the Mayura Hill Resort. This resort is located 1 kilometre south of the city centre and has its own swimming pool for relaxation.
Sen Monorom also has a number of nice restaurants and bars where you can enjoy Cambodian food or a nice beer. For people who like to help the locals: in the Hefalump café English speaking people are regularly asked to have conversations with locals to improve their English. This is also the place to be if you want to join the Elephant Valley Project for a day (advance booking required).
Transport – How to get to Sen Monorom?
Are you planning to visit the beautiful Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri? The only way to get here is by bus. From Phnom Penh it takes about 6 to 8 hours and it is even possible to take a bus from Siem Reap to Mondulkiri. Rithya Mondulkiri Express takes about 8.5 hours in a minibus. Look for more information on the website of BookMeBus. A nice stopover in the direction of Siem Reap is the town of Kratie on the Mekong River. Here you can spot the rare Irriwaddy dolphin.
Do you have any tips, comments or ideas about Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri? Feel free to leave a message below.