Years ago, a travel writer gave the dirt track between the towns of Sen Monoram and Banlung in remote Eastern Cambodia the evocative nickname the “Death Highway” for some reason, and the name stuck. The primitive road was said to be very difficult in the rainy season. Reports also said you need a guide, because it’s not always clear which trail to follow.
Since I was traveling alone in the rainy season, I was going to give this a miss. I didn’t want to have to backtrack from Sen Monoram, so I was going to skip that town. But at the last minute I decided to go there and ask about the road, and I’m glad I did. The town is set among some really nice scenery.
And as it turns out, the “Death Highway” is no more. The sealed road has been completed all the way from Sen Momoram to Banlung. One guy I asked even described it as more of a superhighway.
Since the road was good, I made the drive by myself. It was pleasant and totally safe, and only took five leisurely hours. Despite the romantic nickname, there was nothing deadly about it. The road was new and smooth and there was hardly any traffic.
The only possible, but unlikely, danger was that the road went through some remote stretches with no towns and no people. Running out of gas or having a problem with my motorbike would have been difficult. But periodically the road did pass through towns, so there were opportunities to refuel and get repairs. The route first passed through forest, then planes, and finally plantations before coming to Banlung.
Banlung, in Northeast Cambodia, is bigger than Sen Monoram. But it’s still not big, and is only a few streets. It is the jumping off point for more jungle trekking and waterfalls.