Mondulkiri mean ‘Meeting of the Hills’, a suitable name for such a hilly province. Nestled against Cambodia’s eastern border, Mondulkiri really is another Cambodia, with scenery and a climate quite unlike anywhere else in the country. In the dry season it is a little like Wales with sunshine; in the wet season like Tasmania with dreadful roads. There are endless grasses hills with the occasional clump of pines huddled together against the winds. At an average elevation of 800m, it can get quite chilly at night, so carry something warm.
Mondulkiri is the most sparsely populated province in the country, with just two people per sq km. Almost half of the 25,000 inhabitants come from the Pnong minority group, with other minorities making up much of the rest of the population. The lack of people adds to something of a wild-east atmosphere and there are certainly a lot of wild animals, including tigers, elephants, bears and leopards, in the more remote parts of the province.
There has recently been an influx of refugees returning from the Thai border area, which has pushed the province for ward a little. Rice farming is picking up, but hunting remains the profession of choice for many minorities. Roads are bad throughout the province, but several have been earmarked for improvement, which could help speed up travel. The road from Phnom Penh is now in pretty good shape most of the way, bringing journey times down to seven hours, and this is driving an influx of domestic tourists each weekend (source: lonely planet).