Koh Rong – A Cambodian Island Paradise
When I think South East Asia, I instantly think of white sands and clear blue waters on a deserted island. The film ‘The Beach’ is probably to blame for this misconception, that’s because virtually nowhere that isn’t miles off the beaten path, is deserted in South East Asia.
One place which did come close to this daydream was Koh Rong.
The island wasn’t untouched and there were clear signs that the island was set for further development (we even heard they were going to build an airport on there – not sure how much truth is in that), but for now, it definitely retains a lot of its basic island charm.
The beaches we’d visited before Koh Rong in Cambodia and Vietnam had been amazing, probably some of the nicest I’ve ever been to. However, the beaches on the small Cambodian island blew the Vietnamese and other Cambodian beaches out of the water.
Koh Rong is paradise.
How to get to Koh Rong
With Koh Rong being a small island off mainland Cambodia, there are no roads which go there and I mentioned before there’s no airport on the island, so the only way to reach this island is by boat.
There are boat trips to and from Sihanoukville on the mainland, which run several times a day. These take 1 hour in total. The boat trips aren’t too bad. It’s not rickety boat which a local will take you on to the island, it’s actually a modern large speed boat.
You’ll arrive by boat onto the only pier on the island, which backs onto the main beach.
Accommodation on Koh Rong
The majority of the accommodation on Koh Rong is just off the main beach, so it’s quite easy to reach when you arrive on the island.
There are two simple choices when choosing where you’re going to stay – turn left or turn right when you get to the beach from the pier.
A left turn and you will find yourself in the island village, where most of the locals live. The accommodation here isn’t the best and the beach is bit dirtier, but it’s the cheapest you’ll find on the island.
A right turn will take you to where the majority of backpackers stay. To accommodation which has been purpose built for tourists from mostly mainlanders which saw this island as an investment. Slightly more upmarket, but don’t expect anything great on this island. Everything is very basic e.g. The most you’ll find in accommodation is a toilet, shower, a bed and a fan.
There is no main power source on the island, so everywhere runs from generators, there’s bars open2 amy past 2am, but the majority of accommodation on the island don’t run their generators all the time, in fact most only run the generators which power the rooms for a few hours a night.
We stayed in a bungalow at Monkey Island. This cost us $30 a night, between 4 of us. The bungalows were a little expensive compared to guest houses on the left side of the pier. There’s a bar/restaurant on the same site, where a meal will set you back around $3-6 and a can of Klang beer costs $1. The bungalows were very basic and electricity was only on 6-10pm other than at the main bar/restaurant.
Things To Do on Koh Rong
Kayaking & Snorkelling
We hired kayaks from a place on Long Beach. Half a day for one kayak cost us $10. We also hired snorkels and goggles which were $2 each. There’s an island which can be seen from Long Beach, which the kayak owner advised us to kayak to, we’d also seen others doing it as well.
In my mind, I didn’t think it would take that long to kayak to the other island. It really doesn’t look that far away when you are stood on the beach looking at it. How wrong I was! It took us probably about 45 minutes each way, there were times when I thought I was going to be stuck in the middle of the sea forever. I’m glad we did it though.
When we got to the island, we wedged our boats on the small rocky beach and put on our goggles and explored the coral reefs off the coast of the island.
Of course, there’s always the option to go on an organised tour by boat to the island, but where’s the fun in that?!
Hike Through The Jungle
There’s plenty of different beaches which you can hike through the jungle to if you want to head off the main beach and do a bit of exploring. In fact, there’s 23 white sand beach which are spread around the edges of the island. However, you will more than likely hear time and time again about one beach in particular. That beach is Long Beach. Long beach is absolutely amazing, everything you’d expect from an Asian beach.
The Hike from the main beach to long beach through the jungle will usually take you around an hour, I’d advise you to wear proper shoes for the hike.
UPDATE – I have heard that Long Beach has lost some of its appeal due to construction on the beach, where new accommodation is being built, which is a shame.
With the majority of accommodation turning off their electricity not all that late into the night, there really isn’t much else to do at nights than head out to the bars which line the main beach and well, get drunk! Although the majority of accommodation turns their electricity quite early, the bars on the island certainly don’t. Some bars stay open late into the night, although the majority close around 2ish.
Plenty of bars on the island do 2-4-1 deals on cocktails throughout the night and you’ll always be able to find yourself a cold can of Klang Beer.
Koh Rong – Top Tips
- When you arrive on the island, you’ll more than likely be advised to buy coconut oil to stop the Sand Flies from biting you. You might think this is another sales gimmick from the locals. It’s not, make sure you buy some! We didn’t buy any the first day we were there, by the next day my legs were literally covered with itchy Sand Fly bites.
- Bring plenty of DEET. The mosquitoes on this island are an absolute nightmare, especially when the sun is starting to set and it gets dark. If you’re anything like me they’ll absolutely love you! Also, make sure your accommodation has a mosquito net which isn’t covered in rips.
- Don’t book a return boat on a set date before you arrive. It’s more than likely you’ll want to extend your stay on this island paradise.
- The dogs are very cute, but please don’t carry them up the beach with you. We were told that dogs often get carried by tourists and they get lost and cannot find their way back to their mothers.