In the South of Cambodia lies a little paradise island called Koh Rong. It is the second largest island in Cambodia and just four village communities exist there. A lot of travelers who visit this country just stay on the mainland and enjoy the seaside there. But trust me, 1 hour boat ride away, turquoise blue ocean and white beaches are waiting for you. Koh Tuich village will be your place of arrival and it’s the village where most of the guesthouses are located.
In the end the question won’t be ‘Why go?’, but ‘Why leave?’ A lot of people who come to the island and plan to stay for a few days just end up staying for few months. You will like the islands chill out vibe, feeling of the surreal world and when you are there it feels like the time stopped. Based on what you want, you choose the spot to stay on the island. If you just want to lay on the beach and have quiet holidays, Koh Rong is the perfect place for you. But on the other side, if you want to party all day every day, there are planty of options for you too. Due to the island being so versitale, everyone can find a place they enjoy.
When to Go
The best time to visit Koh Rong is from November to March. In these months the temperatures are not too high, the sky is always blue and the ocean is calm. From March to May temperatures get very high, but the weather is still nice and the island is worth visiting. From May to November rainy season hits the island. Some days there is just a little bit of rain here and there, but on some days the rain just doesn’t stop pouring all day long.
Getting there and around
To go to the island you have to catch one of the boats from the mainland in Sihanoukville. You don’t have to book the tickets in advance, just walk in one of many agencies on the streets and ask for ferry tickets. The boats leave at 9 am, 11 am and the last one at 3 pm. There are now many companies that offers boat transport to the island, but the prices are very similar. For the speed ferry (http://speedferrycambodia.com/) you pay 20$ and for slow boat you pay 10$ for a return ticket. Prices may vary and they depend on the time in the season. You don’t have to tell the return date when you buy the ticket. One day before the departure you go to the booking office in the Dive center (http://kohrong-divecenter.com/) on the pier and they stamp the ticket for you so there is guaranted place for you on a boat back to the mainland. If you buy the ticket for a slow boat, on the departure date you just wait on the pier and the boat will take you back to the mainland. The boats leave the island at 9 am, 10am, 12am and 4 pm.
Koh Rong is still in the starting process of being developed. At this moment there still are no roads in Koh Tuich Village, but the road is in the making process so this will change very soon. There still is no motorbikes, tuk-tuks, bicycles or cars on the island so the only way is to walk. The Village where most of the guesthouses are is very small, you can walk from one side to another in less than 10 minutes. After you arrive on the island you won’t be needing shoes anymore. The best way to explore the island is barefoot. In you are more adventurous I recommend you an one hour hike through the jungle all the way to Long beach, which is the nicest beach on the island.
LONG BEACH – Long beach is one of the nicest beaches on the island. It is seven kilometres long and on a sunny day it’s blue waters and white sand is just breath taking. When you walk on the the beach, sand makes a funny squeaking noises. There is almost no shadow and just one restaurant in the beginning so make sure you bring enough water and sun cream with you. You can get there by hiking through the jungle for one hour or you can take a taxi boat in one of many shops on the beach. The hike is not very hard to do, but make sure you wear sneakers. First 15 minutes you walk uphill, you walk through the jungle for another 20 and in the end there is a 15 minute climb over the big rocks. Taxi boat costs 3$ one way or 5$ for a return ticket. A lot of people go there to camp for a few nights. You can rent a hammock (2$/night) or a tent for 2 people (5$/night) on the beach as well.
4K BEACH – 20 minute walk on the beach away from the village lies another beautiful place called 4K beach. It is quiet, almost no tourist around and no hotels. The only hotel is at the end of the beach (http://www.puravitaresort.com/). In the beginning of the year Americans were filming a reality show Survivor on this beach.
VIEW POINT – From the top of the hill you get a very nice view of the island and the village. It is a nice place to take beautiful pictures of the island, especially on a sunny day. You get to the view point if you walk all the way through the local village and turn right at the end. You pass the High point and climb some stairs to get to the top.
Best Activity or Tour
BOAT TRIPS – On the beach you can find many companies offering boat trips. They cost 10$ and includes water, fruit, snorkelling mask and free BBQ. The departure is at 1pm – 2pm and it lasts until sunset. The company takes you snorkelling, fishing, then you go to the Long beach to swim, watch the sunset and eat some barbecue. When the sun sets and it gets dark outside on the way back to the village the boat stops and you can go swim with the bioluminescent plankton. The sparkling water around you is magical, one of a kind experience.
DIVING (http://kohrong-divecenter.com/) – Koh Rong dive centre is situated on one of the piers and it is the only dive center on the island. You can do diving courses or fun dives every day in the week.
ZIP LINE (http://high-point.asia/en/) – High point is one of the newest attraction for adrenaline junkies on Koh Rong. It is a mixture of adrenaline park and zip line. You can purchase tickets for 25$ in low season and for 35$ in high season. The tickets are available in Sihanoukville, almost every bar on Koh Rong and in the High point office.
POLICE BEACH PARTIES (https://www.facebook.com/avillageproject) – Police beach is a 10 minute walk away from the village. It’s gonna be a village project is a group of people that organizes the parties on this beach every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. On Mondays the ticket is free, on Wednesday and Saturday you have to pay 7,5$ pre-sale and 10$ at the entrance. Mostly they play house, deep house and electronic music which lasts until the sunrise. Police beach is one of the best points to see the sunrise.
PUB CRAWL – Once a week pub crawl is organized and it takes place in different bars on the island. For the fee of 5$ you get free drinks in every bar, you can play different games and win some prizes. But tho most important part is meeting people from all over the world.
CAMPING ON LONG BEACH – Camping on a deserted beach is an unique experience. Rent a hammock (2$/night) of a tent (5$/night) and go live in the wildernest for a day or two.
ONEDAY TRIP TO KOH RONG SANLOEM – Koh Rong Sanloem is just a half hour boat ride away from Koh Rong. It is more peaceful, less touristy and one day trip to this island is a nice way to spend a day. There are two big villages on the island – Saracen Bay and M’Pay bay. You can go to this island with a slow boat, speed ferry or with a private taxi boat.
KAYAKING – Rent a kayak on the beach for 8$ and paddle for 45 minutes to a Small island. Small island has a small pagoda on top and is the best location to do some snorkelling.
VOLUNTEER (http://friendsofkohrong.org/) – Friends of Koh Rong is an organization that helps children on the island with education and community capacity development. They have a lot of ongoing projects and if you want to do something good, stop by and ask for help. Help is always appreciated and the kids will make your day.
There are all sorts of accommodation available on the island. If you want something basic, cheap and quiet walk to the left side to the Local village. If you want something more western, a little bit more expensive and if you like to party, walk to the right side of the pier to one of the Western owned guesthouses.
THIEN ANN GUESTHOUSE – One of the cheapest options on the island, located in the middle of the local village. Very basic rooms inside of a bamboo house. Price is around 10$ for a private room (WC + fan), 5$ for a dorm room (fan) and 3$ for a bed outside on a balcony (no fan).
DREAMCATCH (https://www.facebook.com/kohrongdreamcatch)– Eco-friendly guesthouse in a local village, known by helping the Friends of Koh Rong organization. They have only private rooms for around 15$ per night. They are also know for their fire show which takes place outside the guest house. Small restaurant sells all kind of Western and Cambodian food. Wi-fi available.
WHITE ROSE GUESTHOUSE (https://www.facebook.com/WhiteRoseKohRong) with private rooms for 2 or 4 people (10 or 15$), all with shared bathrooms. On the top floor there is a nice sitting area with a big TV. Their restaurant is one of the best on the island, you can get everything from burgers, spaghetti to mexican food and nachos for under 4$. You get a free Klang beer with every meal. Wi-fi available.
NATURAL LAUNGE (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008682133983&fref=ts) – Newly renovated guesthouse is for people who want to relax and livein a quiet area. Twin, double and triple rooms all under 20$.
BONGS (http://www.bongsguesthouse.com/) guesthouse is know for it’s chill out vibe and relax atmosphere. Their dream was to create a place where you feel at home while on your travels, but at the same time feel immersed in local life and culture on the island. They have a selection of accommodation to suit almost all types of travellers and more importantly their budgets. Prices change seasonally. Whichever accommodation you choose while you stay with us you will be entitled to the following perks -Unlimited free tea and coffee, Unlimited water refills, Wifi in the bar and private rooms, Happy hour all day in the bar and Secure safety deposit box.
VAGABONDS (http://www.vagabondskohrong.com/) is a hostel/restaurant/late night bar located on the beach front in Koh Touch Village on the island of Koh Rong. They provide dorm beds and private rooms at affordable prices. Their rooms are simple, but they provide any budget traveller with a comfortable and clean space to rest after a long day exploring the island. All of their rooms and dorms have fans, mosquito nets, clean linen and windows with a view.
ISLAND BOYS (http://www.kohrongislandboys.com/) is one of the most popular hostels on the beach among backpackers, and with FREE DRINKS for all of our guests between 6pm & 7pm every day you can see why! Cheap accommodation, mouth-watering food, delicious drinks and great people. Another good place for party people.
MONKEY ISLAND (http://monkeyisland-kohrkohrong.com/) have 20 traditionally made beach bungalows (big enough to sleep up to 4 people) – all hand crafted by local people, using local materials. Prices per night are 30 – 35$ per bungalow which can fit up to 4 people. It’s rustic beach bar is the place to be on hot days and breezy nights. They have a large selection of cheap western dishes and traditional Khmer and Thai meals, they also have daily specials and BBQ’s.
TREE HOUSE BUNGALOWS (http://treehouse-bungalows.com/) is located in the most beautiful, peaceful and romantic place on the island. You will feel space, freedom, peace and serenity. Price per night is 35$ – 45$ per bungalow. It is more appropriate for couples and people who want to stay away from the parties.
COCOS (http://cocos-kohrong.com/) – One of the most popular guesthouses among the travellers. You can accommodate in Sea view bungalows (35$), Graden view bungalows (30$) and Deluxe bungalows (60$). They have different themed parties every night and one of the best BBQs on the whole island for just 5$. Wi-fi available.
BUNNA’S PLACE ( https://www.facebook.com/bunnas.place.5 ). – If you like to party, this is a place for you. Very friendly Khmer staff and the boss Bunna will make your stay very pleasant. They will teach you how to drink a shotgun and you will be able to put your name on a Shotgun leaderboard. Dorms from 5$ per night and privaterooms from 10$ for double room and 15$ for triple room. Wi-fi, restaurant and very good coctails available.
You can get meals from 1$ up. In the local village you can find local businesses selling traditional Khmer food (soup, fried rice and noodles) for 1 or 2$. Other dishes like curry, amok, lok lak are around 3$. Western food is a little bit more expensive, up to 4 or 5$. But you can get everything from burgers, toasties, spaghetti, mexican food and also pizza (Tree house bungalows – 6$, Koh Lanta – 8$). The best Italian restaurant is called Da Matti and it is located on the last pier in the local village. Every night after 6 pm most of the hotels offer fresh BBQ for 5$. You can choose a red snapper and all kinds of meat, served with side salad, patatoes and garlic bread. In some places you get a free beer as well. Klang beer is 1$, the same as bottled water. Coctails are around 3$, but cheaper if you catch a happy hour that last from 7 pm – 9 pm. Fresh fruit shakes can be bought onthe beach for 1$ as well.
In the village you can find just some basic shops with food and drinks. Mathilda shirts and Koh Rong shirts are very popular among the backpackers. You will see a lot of people wearing shirt saying: It’s all gone Koh Rong; Rong place, Rong time ,.. You can buy the shirts in Bongs ( up to 10$), Vagabonds and Dreamcatch (6$).
Note (anything else important)
Make sure you bring enough money with you on the island. There are no ATM machines. You can borrow some money in some of the guesthouses but the best way is to bring enough money with you from the mainland. There also is no hot shower, no AC, no washing machines, no roads and no hospitals on the island. In case of an emergency go to the pharmacy in the local village. If the case is too serious you will have to go to the hospital on the mainland. Don’t try to ride a water buffalo. Wi-fi connection is very bad most of the time. It is possible to check e-mails and facebook, but Skyping and downloading movies is impossible. Sand flies are on of the things you have to be carefull about. The bites are very itchy and can get infected easily. The flies bite only when you lie on the beach and the only way to protect is to put any kind of oil all over the body. Or buy an orange spray cans of bug spray. They should help as well. Don’t be afraid to look like a french fries, cover yourself in oil. Drink only bottled water.
This is all you need to know. Everyone should visit it. You won’t regret it! 🙂