The country’s largest but most sparsely populated province, mountainous Mondulkiri sees fewer travellers in a year than Rattanakiri does in a month, although improved access is gradually bringing Cambodia’s “Wild East” into the tourist mainstream. As in neighbouring Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri’s once wild landscape has suffered greatly from indiscriminate logging and other forms of development, including the creation of Chinese and Australian gold mines, although areas of impenetrable jungle survive, home to rare and endangered wildlife including elephants, Asian dogs and green peafowl. The compact provincial capital, Sen Monorom, makes a good base for local treks and visits to surrounding attractions, including the mighty Bou Sraa waterfall and the innovative Elephant Valley Project.
Mondulkiri’s main indigenous group are the Bunong (also known as the Phnong), who made up nearly eighty percent of the province’s population until the 1990s, when they were joined by an influx of impoverished Khmer returning from the refugee camps in Thailand. The Khmer are still coming, though nowadays it’s rich ones who are buying land cheaply then clearing it for farms and plantations.