Every time I visit southeast Asia I am always drawn to Cambodia and this summer was no exception BUT instead of making my normal rounds to Siem Reap and through Angkor Wat, I wanted to see what all the hype with the Cambodian Islands was about and let me tell you the islands did NOT disappoint.
Koh Rong is the definition of paradise! Bungalows on the beach, countless hammocks and wooden swings line the gulf, $1 dollar beer, and women walking down the beach asking you if you’d like fresh pineapple, mangos, and coconut…I mean what more could you ask for? Here’s how to get the best of Koh Rong in 3 days. But first things first…
BEFORE YOU GO:
- VISA: A Visa is required by most countries to enter Cambodia. You can get an E-Visa here before you go or get one on arrival. I always get one on arrival, it cost $20 and there are ATM’s that dispense USD at the borders. Just make sure you have at least 6 months validity on your passport and a blank page for the Visa.
- Purchase World Nomad’s Travel Insurance.
- CURRENCY: The Cambodian Riel is the currency of Cambodia but USD is widely accepted. 4,000 Riel is about 1 USD. Most things will be priced in USD and that is the main source of currency that you’ll be using. The Riel’s are used as change, if you pay for something that is $2.50 with $3.00 you will get 2,000 Riel back in change.
- LANGUAGE: Khmer is the official language of Cambodia but English is widely spoken.
- RELIGION: Theravada Buddhism is the official religion in Cambodia
AVERAGE DAILY BUDGET:
Budget – $15-20
- Dorm bed w/ fan
- Street food
- Lots of hammock lazing and snorkeling
Mid Range – $60
- Average for a couple
- Double bed w A/C
- Occasional happy hour and beach rave
Luxury – $100 and up
- Staying in the high end resorts
- Dining in restaraunts
- Private dives
HOW TO GET THERE:
Koh Rong is 25km from Sihanoukville pier. There are two options to get to the island, the slow boat or the fast boat. The slow boat takes about two and a half hours and costs $5 and the fast boat runs 3 times a day 9 am, 1130 am, and 130 and cost $25 round trip and takes 45 minutes.
The first stop on the ferry is the quiet part of the island and the second stop is Koh Touch Village.
WHERE TO STAY:
We stayed in Koh Touch Village the first night and switched to a nicer resort for the remainder of our stay. It was an easy way to get your bearings and after a long day of travel on the first day. Here are a few options on where to stay in town. *1st stop on the ferry.
- Green Ocean – You get what you pay for. $10 a night for a basic fan room and walls were thin and completely open at the top by the ceiling so you could hear everything going on but the location was excellent.
- CoconutBeach Bungalows – Basic fan rooms, clean with mosquito nets. Located on the beach and has a fun game area. Prices start at $10 a night.
- Paradise Bungalows Koh Rong – If you want to be in a bungalow but still close to town, basic rooms with hammocks. Prices start at $25 per night.
*2nd stop on the ferry.
- Sok San Beach Resort – Located on Long Beach (about 30-45 min. walk from Koh Tuich Village), bungalows include amenities like A/C. There is also a bar, spa, and a fun game area including a pool table, ping pong, and darts. Prices start at $90 per night.
- Royal Sands Koh Rong – If you’re really looking to live luxuriously for a few days then Royal Sands is your place. Also located on Long Beach this resort has luxurious villas, a private beach area, spa, fitness center, and an outdoor pool. You’ll be happy you splurged for this place.
Once you’re settled in your, grab lunch at one of the cafe’s in the area. Most of the restaurants/cafes offer a free beer with every meal. Score!
Next, wander down long beach towards paradise beach. Stop and take photos with one of the many swings along the way, climb on the rocks, and explore the small ship wreck. We were the only ones on the beach when we were exploring it and it was awesome.
We happened to arrive here on a Friday and every Wednesday and Friday nights Koh Rong has an all night party til’ sunrise on Police Beach (in town). It costs $6 to get in if you buy your ticket ahead of time and it comes with a free drink. So of course we partied the night away. The party didn’t get going until midnight but there’s a handful of bars to socialize, play beer pong, and entertain yourself until then. Just don’t forget to pace yourself.
Spend the day relaxing at the beach, enjoying your resort, getting a suntan and swimming and snorkeling in the ocean.
Plan a trip to see the plankton tonight, tours start at 7 pm every night only cost $5. Its a fun, inexpensive, unique experience to have. Or if you’d rather spend that $5 on beer, find an empty beach and see the plankton yourself.
Explore Koh Rong Samloem. Only a $5 ferry ride from Koh Rong is where you’ll find this less populated slice of paradise. Find a hammocks in the ocean where you can laze all day and enjoy the warm tropical waters.
BEST BEACHES TO EXPLORE:
- Long Beach
- Palm Beach
- Lonely Beach
WHAT TO DO:
If you’ve managed to make your way to Koh Rong, you probably already know that the main attraction here is relaxation and the point is to slow down. But with that being said, there still are a few things to do while you are here.
See the bioluminescent Plankton
This natural phenomenon happens on the shoreline here. When there is rapid movement in the water this certain type of plankton lights up a fluorescent blue. You can swim with them on a $5 tour or opt out of the tour and do it on your own.
One of the best activities you can do is catch a sunrise or sunset or BOTH! And the best part is that they are FREE! I love to start my day with a beautiful sunrise.
You can go on a dive trip or a snorkel tour. The waters are clear and filled with all types of marine life. Being on a boat, in the water, diving or snorkeling is always one of my favorite past times.
Explore secluded beaches and have them all to yourself
Its no surprise that Koh Rong is lined with countless white sand beaches that trail into the clear turquoise waters. Finding a secluded beach all to yourself won’t be a problem as many of the beaches can only be reached by foot. Happy Exploring.
SURVIVAL TRAVEL TIPS:
- The islands don’t have ATM’s so plan accordingly
- They do have a cash out service which they slide you credit card, give you money you request and then take a service fee, which is WAY more expensive than an ATM fee but this is an option for cash if you’re strapped
- There are no hospitals on the island but there is a pharmacy
- It’s $5 to travel between Koh Rong and Koh Samloem so it’s possible to do a day trip
- Beware of bed bugs and sand fleas…
- Don’t be surprised if you experience numerous power outages, especially at night
- There are no roads on Koh Rong just worn paths, so prepare to do a lot of walking
Thanks for reading and leave me a comment if you have any recommendations on Koh Rong that I did not mention. And feel free to follow my adventures @imjess_traveling