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Mondulkiri: A wildlife experience

Editor’s note: Below is another adventure submitted to us by Paola Vega (she’s on Instagram, too!), documenting her adventure in Mondulkiri. Follow

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The eastern region of Cambodia is a place unknown to many. Yet becoming more and more popular. Mondulkiri province is now an upcoming backpackers’ destination full of wildlife and nature.

I took a mini-van from Phnom Penh directly to the town of Sem Monorom. I then walked to the office of an Elephant Sanctuary that I contacted prior my arrival. My intended purpose of coming here was to volunteer a few days and this place offered a great deal.

The first night I had to spend it at a really nice hotel called Nature Lodge. Completely immersed in the essence of the region; wide open green spaces, beautiful sunsets and clear night skies. The next day the “Mondulkiri Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary” welcomed me with their arms open. The first two days I followed them on their trekking and elephant tour just to get to know the whole organization better and to grasp their essence. After, I spent three days helping at the sanctuary with various projects.

The place is a real paradise for the elephants, they have a massive land where they can roam freely, and the best part is: they are not chained or ridden on. They really take care of them at the sanctuary. The visitors have the chance to feed them and then bathe them. And if you do the two-day program you even get to sleep one night at the sanctuary in a nice jungle-hut. A really unique experience.

Also, the jungle trek is a great way to see more of this beautiful region. There are many waterfalls and plantations around worth seeing. And at the end of the day, you feel so accomplished for walking 20k up and down hills.

I had a great time during my stay in Mondulkiri and I will recommend it to anyone who’s in Cambodia. If you are a nature and animal lover this place is for you!

Phnom Penh to Koh Rong Samloem

Editor’s note: Below is another article by our favorite traveler, Hugo! Check out his recount of his adventure from Phnom Penh to Koh Rong Samloem below.


I am living in Phnom Penh since 6 month now and I try to leave the capital at least once every two weeks to take some fresh air, this time: direction Koh Rong Samloem! Thus, with my friends, we left Phnom Penh with a night bus and arrived in Sihanoukville early morning. That was the 4th time I was going there, as this is really close to Phnom Penh, however I still don’t really like Sihanoukville. This city is for me neither nice nor beautiful, this is just the only way to reach the islands that are great, this is why I am not staying there, even for a night!

Once arrived we took a Angkor Speed Ferry boat with BookMeBus, the only boat company I never experienced, and it is definitely the best company to go the islands! They were exactly on time, their staff is really nice, they give you fresh water, boats are new; they have a great and clean open-rooftop, toilets and brand new life jackets for everyone. Furthermore I learned that they are the only one allowed to stop at Long Set Beach in Koh Rong, which can be really useful for those that wants to arrive directly there.

With my friends we arrived in Koh Rong Samloem and we booked at Freedom Island Bungalow for one night. Those bungalows are cheaper than many other in Saracen Beach (between 25-30USD) and are really great, big beds, clean bathroom and a nice terrace to chill with a drink at the end of the day. Those bungalows are located on the right part of the beach, so you don’t have the fits in the white sand, but place is quiet and not crowdie at all. Therefore I recommend those bungalows for people that want calm, clean and cheap place and don’t care that much on walking 3 minutes to reach the big Saracen Beach.

First day, we went to Sunset Beach on the west side of Koh Rong Samloem. To go there you need to take a tiny path that cross over the jungle and you arrived in this beach with transparent water & you are almost alone, what asking for more? After an afternoon spent there, we came back to our bungalow and spend a night drinking mojitos and playing cards, such a great time when your daily life takes place in Phnom Penh.

The second day, we had to leave our incredible bungalow because they were full… We finally ended up in the Hostel by the Sea, the worst hostel I ever experienced in Cambodia… You pay 10 USD for one bed in dorm, you have only one fan for 4 beds, a small disgusting blanket and I am not sure they ever cleaned the sheets… Showers? Can we call that a shower? I am not sure… They are located on the middle of their garbage and it’s just a narrow trickle of smelly and disgusting water not available all day… Finally, after seeing their kitchen, eating there is something you should avoid. I am used to go to hostel and guesthouses and I am never looking for high standard as I always go for the 3-6 USD dorms, but when you pay 10USD for a dorm, at least you want a fan and a proper shower, even more on the sea side. However, as everything was booked we had to stay there.

We left quickly Saracen Beach (which is a bit too big for me), to reach Lighthouse at the south of the island, the walk is a bit more that 1h but is really great and once you arrived you can reach an amazing beach where no one goes, we stayed there playing cards, fishing crabs, reading, incredible! I warmly recommend you to go there, but be careful there is nothing to eat there, we bought some water in the houses nearby but you can’t find anything else.

We finally end up this amazing weekend by a beach BBQ, costly (8USD) but really great! We came back with the same company, Angkor Speed Ferry and reached Sihanoukville, our weekend was really great and I will definitely go back to Koh Rong Samloem!

Hugo

Bus trip from Phnom Penh to Battambang

Editor’s Note: We once again hear from Hugo on his exciting trip from Phnom Penh to Battambang. As always, all content and images belong to the contributor.


Hi everyone! Again, here I am, after some new traveling experiences in Cambodia. I am still living in Phnom Penh, trying to enjoy as much as possible to travel around when I can manage time and money!
Last weekend, I decided to move on discovering Battambang, thus I booked a bus through BookMeBus to reach Battambang. I booked a Virak Buntham Night Bus leaving at 1 am from Phnom Penh night market because journey is quite long and I didn’t have a lot of time to go on travelling. That was the first time I had a night bus in Cambodia, one large bed for two persons! It was fun and I slept well so my requirements were totally fulfilled. The journey was great!

phnom penh to battambang

I arrived early morning on Saturday, I started looking for an hostel around the city center, I found one pretty great and really cheap, couple of streets up to Night Market (Sorry, I forgot the name). As I always do when I am on trip somewhere in Cambodia, I rented a moto for two days to go on discovering the city and the surroundings. I went down south, riding next to the river for some hours! Places there are amazing, great views and the atmosphere is so relaxing there when your daily life takes places in Phnom Penh! You can see monkeys, bats and some temples all around. I love Cambodian countryside, I can spend hours driving in there, getting lost on these incredible tiny dust roads.

battambang

After all this time spending on losing myself into Battambang countryside I decided to go to the “Bat cave”. This is one of the biggest touristic attraction in Battambang. This cave is under a mountain where you have many great temples as well as some historical places. At sunset time, thousands of bats are leaving this cave to live their night life! This is impressive but not as I expected… I expected to see a huge cloud of bats leaving at once, but finally they were leaving the cave in a thin discontinuous flow. However this mountain is really beautiful, I am warmly recommending you to go there and visit those temples. (Entrance fee is 1$ per person). You can either choose the road or the stairs, I personally took the stairs, it’s quick and not really tough to handle.

After this long trip, I just get back to Battambang and enjoy night market as well as some bars with backpackers I met on the way. The day after, I continue on discovering the countryside and chilling around the city, which was really great.

I enjoyed this place, countryside is beautiful and it’s a good place to relax and chill around. However I would not recommend you to stay more than 4-5 days there. Once you have seen the city (which is small) and the surroundings you don’t have much more to do and Cambodia is full of great stuff to see so you have plenty of possibilities to continue your trip around!

I hope I gave you the tips you wanted from this place!!

See around traveling,

Cheers,

Hugo

My trip from Phnom Penh to Mondolkiri

Editor’s Note: The story below chronicles the adventure of Alice on her trip from Phnom Penh to Mondulkiri. All images and content are from the contributor.


 

Currently living in Phnom Penh, we decided with some friends to leave the capital city during Water Festival and go on discovering North East of Cambodia and especially Mondolkiri.

We booked a bus through BookMeBus to go there. The journey was great, the landscape was really beautiful and very different to all I’ve seen in Cambodia so far, with all those hills and this luxuriant vegetation. Our first impression when we got there, was this really peaceful mood prevailing in this small village surrounded by nature and animals. This is so pleasant after the spirited Phnom Penh!

We were hosted and guided by two native from a Mondolkiri village during the entire week-end, which is a great way to discover this region. We stayed in a traditional house for the first night, talking and eating with locals.

mondolkiri

The second day we left early morning to go for two days trekking in the jungle! That was an amazing experience. We swam in waterfalls, saw crazy animals, slept in hammock (in the middle of the forest), fished and eat from the river, saw elephants … Coming back in the village after this incredible 2 days trek, people invited us to a weeding in the village! That was so great!

Mondolkiri is far from being my best trip since I am in Cambodia, not only for the amazing landscape but also because it was a real interesting exchange and sharing moment with the locals. It is a place not to be missed during your trip in Cambodia!

I would recommend to go there just after the rainy season, when the landscape is entirely green and rain is not anymore an obstacle to go on discovering. You should stay there at least three days, which is I think the minimum if you want have time to appreciate this so special atmosphere. Moreover, if you want to see the elephants, I would recommend you to choose a Cambodian NGO, in order contributing to local initiatives.

I did enjoy this trip a lot because we always were with locals therefore I can only warmly recommend you to avoid guesthouses there!

Enjoy your trip in Mondolkiri!

 

Alice

Trip from Phnom Penh to Kep and Kampot!

Editor’s note: Below is the traveller’s journal of Hugo on his trip to Kep and Kampot in Cambodia. All content and images are from the contributor.


My friends and I, are living in Phnom Penh and wanted to leave the capital city for some days to go on visiting southern Cambodia, especially Kep and Kampot. We booked bus tickets through BookMeBus, easy booking and we got very good prices compared to the other travelers we met over there.

kep and kampotOnce we arrived in Kampot, the first thing we did was to rent a scooter to get ourselves outside of the city in order to find a great hostel to stay. We crossed the new bridge and went up north, following the River. After 5 minutes driving we arrived in an incredible hostel, with terrace above the river! Amazing! We booked there for a night and we get back to our scooter to discover the countryside around. We got lost but we finally arrived to the seaside where we stayed for a few hours.

Kampot city is not the most beautiful place in this part of the country but I highly recommend to book a room/dorm in one of those hostel on the river side and from there take the time to visit the countryside.

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The day after we did the road from Kampot to Kep . Once we got there we booked a room in a dorm at Kepmandou hostel and started discovering the surroundings. I recommend this hostel, it’s clean, cheap and people are nice. Furthermore, they have maps of the countryside around in which they wrote down all the amazing places to discover motorcycling!

kampot and kep

From there, we were hanging around during two days, getting lost on rice fields, we went to a lake way north from Kep and we got so lost that we ended at the Vietnamese border! Kep countryside is really great, diversify and easy to go all over! I also really recommend to go to the crab market in Kep where you can eat really well and for every price range.

kep and kampot 2

This region is really nice for those who wants to travel on their own and visit countryside, rice field and having a boat trip on Mekong. For those who prefers to enjoy beaches, I would more recommend Sihanouk and the islands around. There is one beach in Kep, which is alright but really crowded during weekends and holidays. We stayed 4 days in this region, which is great but not enough if you really want to make the most of this place. I would recommend you to stay about a week.

After this trip around Kep and Kampot, we had to get back to our Phnom Penh, we booked bus through BookMeBus and we got back as easily as we arrived.

I hope that I helped you and that you will go on discovering all over Cambodia!

See you around!

Hugo