Getting there & away
At the time of writing, all flights to Ratanakiri had been suspended for more than six months. They may start operating again, but bear in mind that schedules cannot be trusted and cancellations are common.
The road between Ban Lung and O Pong Moan (the junction 19km south of Stung Treng on NH7) is in reasonable shape and is currently undergoing renovation. Share taxi (25, 000r, three hours) is the way to go as pick-ups (inside/on the back 25, 000/15, 000r, four hours) are slower and less comfortable. There is also a private minivan service to Stung Treng (US$8), which offers pick-ups from your guest house or hotel. Direct taxis run between Ban Lung and Kratie (30, 000, five hours). Wet-season journey times can be considerably longer.
One way or the other, it is now possible to make the overland journey to Phnom Penh in just one day and Hua Lian (US$17.50) run a daily bus in either direction, departing at 6.15am. There are also private companies offering shared people carriers to Phnom Penh. Try Bona Transport (012 567161) or Ly Heng Express (012 724096), both costing US$15 and leaving at 6.30am.
There is no real road linking Ratanakiri to Mondulkiri, contrary to what older maps may show. There is a road as far south as Lumphat, but after crossing the Tonlé Srepok by ferry, it descends into a series of sandy ox-cart tracks until Koh Nhek in northern Mondulkiri Province. A handful of hardcore bikers have been using this route over the past few years, but only attempt it if you have years of biking experience or are an extremely hardy soul with an iron backside. Anyone seriously considering this option should link up with a local who knows the route, as there are lots of opportunities to get lost. A range of motorbike spares, copious amounts of water and a compass should make for a smoother journey. An increasing number of travellers are also coming this way on the back of a moto, but it’s punishing. The Cambodian military have rebuilt the road from Sen Monorom to Koh Nhek, which makes the journey possible in one day, assuming you don’t get lost. It is almost impossible in the wet season.