Located to the far east of Cambodia on the border with Vietnam, the province of Mondulkiri is one of the country’s best kept secrets. Scenically it is very different to most of Cambodia, with lush rainforests, beautiful waterfalls and green rolling hills. This is a wonderful place to enjoy off the beaten track Cambodia and to learn about the country’s hilltribe communities.
Mondulkiri is Cambodia’s largest province, and yet it is the most sparsely populated. The province measures 14,288 square kilometres and has a population of around 70,000, whereas provinces such as Siem Reap have close to a million inhabitants. Around 80 per cent of Mondulkiri’s population consists of hilltribe ethnic minorities, and local languages include Khmer, Lao, Vietnamese and hilltribe dialects.
The capital of the province is Son Monorom, which is a pretty town nestled into the hills. Ethnic minority villages are scattered throughout the nearby countryside, with the locals making a living from farming produce such as cashew nuts, strawberries and coffee.
The small population of the province has allowed local wildlife to flourish in the jungle, with plenty of bird species and monkeys, and rarer sightings including leopards, bears and even elephants. The area is known for its eco-tourism efforts, and there are many sustainable travel initiatives, including ethical elephant projects.