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Even after nearly five months since our week on the islands off the coast of Cambodia, every day my mind still wanders back to the perfect calm waters and chilled atmosphere of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem. If these islands aren’t yet on your radar, I hope this travel guide will convince you to make a trip there asap!
Koh Rong is the largest of the two islands, and if you are wanting to stay where all the action is, make sure to stay around the pier area. The main village is made up of a strip of hostels, cafes and bars just behind the piers, and there are bar parties going on pretty much every night! Whilst there are a few bars here, I would definitely not class it as a party island comparable to those of Thailand. So don’t be worried if that isn’t your scene, we couldn’t hear any music from our accommodation!
Of course, the main reason anyone goes to an island is to spend the days lazing on the beach and trying to get a tan. And Koh Rong offers a fair few beaches for this! We actually really enjoyed spending time at the small beach towards the end of Koh Touch, the main village, as it was just a ten minute walk from our room. Once the tide goes out a little, there is a small strip of perfect white sand with really calm water and of course the Instagram worthy beach swing!
Just a short walk from Koh Touch, following the path through some trees is 4k beach. As the name suggests the beach is pretty big, made even more beautiful that there is hardly anyone or any buildings on it. After going for a swim, I actually found that I preferred swimming near the main village. There seemed to be quite a lot of debris in the water and it definitely wasn’t as calm! There is also the option of getting a boat taxi back to the main village for a small fee, if you aren’t feeling the walk back.
If you want to check out other areas of the island without having to figure out how to get there, a boat tour is a great option. We booked a really good one with a stall near one of the piers, and at just $10 it was great value for money. There were about 30 people on the tour, and we were first taken to another small island which was a great spot for snorkelling! We then had the chance to try our hands at fishing, and both me and Jack actually caught some! They even cooked up our fish for the evening meal!
After a fair sized dinner of rice and meat we were taken to Long Beach to watch the amazing sunset whilst swimming in the sea. For our last stop of the tour once it was dark, we were taken to a spot to see the glowing plankton. Whilst the glow wasn’t really obvious, if you moved your arms around in the water you could see it and it was pretty impressive!
WHERE TO STAY
If you are looking to stay in the main village, Koh Touch, I would recommend Happy Elephant Bungalows. It is set back from the main strip up a steep side road, and the balcony is a great place to relax with a book. There are many hostels attached to the bars, or if you want a more secluded stay, the other beaches on the island offer more luxurious resorts.
KOH RONG SANLOEM
Out of the two islands, Koh Rong Sanloem was by far my favourite. It is a much smaller, quieter version of Koh Rong. There are only a couple of bars, which are very chilled to match the rest of the island. As soon as you get off the pier friendly locals help direct you to your accommodation and you immediately feel at home.
Whilst the food options aren’t as great as those on Koh Rong, I did experience the best iced coffee of the trip here. And the rustic character of the island makes up for the lack of variety. If one day I ever feel the need to get away from everything, this is the place I would go. It is somewhere I could easily spend weeks on end, feeding off the laid-back vibes.
WHERE TO STAY
If you are travelling on a budget then the best area to stay would be M’Pai Bay, there are lots of cheap options here, many of which are completely new! There are gorgeous beaches close by and a few restaurants and cafes to choose from. This seems to be the area most popular with backpackers.
Saracens Bay is the main tourist area of the island, and the prices definitely reflect that. When we were looking to book somewhere, we had to rule this area out due to the high prices! But if you have the budget for it, I would recommend experiencing a few nights in one of the resorts.
HOW TO GET THERE
There are both ferries and speed boats that leave from Sihanoukville. We chose to go with the speedboat, and after just under an hour we arrived at Koh Rong. Although maybe try and sit towards the back of the boat to make your journey less bumpy! We bought a return ticket that we were able to catch from either island if you are looking to visit both of them. You can also catch a ferry that goes between the two islands for a good price!
If you are looking for more Cambodia travel inspiration, make sure to read our journey here!
WHAT’S IN MY BACKPACK