When people imagine pearl white beaches, clear blue water, and palm trees, they immediately think about an island in Thailand. But what most of them don’t know is that its little neighbor Cambodia also has its own beautiful islands. One of these is Koh Rong. Once you arrive at the pier, it feels like you’ve arrived in paradise. Here you’ll find fewer tourists than on all the Thai islands. Koh Rong is the perfect place to get away from all the stress of work (or backpacking) and relax a bit because of its laid back vibe. This mini-guide is made so you can get the most out of your stay, together with 5 great things to do on the island. Don’t wait too long because the island is developing fast.
HOW TO GET TO KOH RONG
Koh Rong lies approximately 25km from mainland Cambodia. The only way to get to Koh Rong is by boat from Sihanoukville. Multiple companies offer a fast ferry towards the island on multiple times of the day. Prices are all the same, $20 for a round-trip with a fast ferry (which takes one hour) and $10 for a round-trip with the slow boat or backpackers boat (which takes 2,5 hours). All the boats arrive at Koh Tuich Village – also known as Koh Touch – in Koh Rong but depart from different places in Sihanoukville. So check with your booking office when booking your tickets, so you don’t miss your boat by standing at the wrong pier. These boats usually go to Koh Rong Samloem after dropping passengers off at Koh Rong. If you’re staying somewhere else on the island that isn’t close to Koh Tuich, take a boat taxi to your destination.
Travel Tip: There are no ATM’s on the island so be sure to have enough money in your pocket before boarding the ferry.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Bungalows are popping out of the ground like mushrooms to accommodate the rising number of all the visitors. With higher prices and lower standards than on Cambodia’s mainland, it isn’t easy to find a good budget accommodation. But it is possible! If you’re arriving early on the island, we suggest not to book something in advance. There are plenty of options right at Koh Tuich. Ranging from dorms to privates or bungalows. Ask around for prices and how the rooms look like before agreeing on something. If you’re planning to arrive with the last ferry, we understand that it’s not so much fun to look around. A lot of accommodations are on booking.com, but these prices are most of the time higher than normal. But it’s good to know you have a place to stay before you arrive on the island. This is especially recommended in high-season.
EATING & DRINKING
Koh Tuich is the place where most of the bars and restaurants are. Almost all of them offer Khmer and international dishes at low prices. We can really recommend the $5 BBQ at Island Boys, where you get a lot of food for your money. If you want to get a night out, here is also the place where bars play music until deep in the night, where the pub crawl goes on and where the starting point of the Full Moon Party is. Most of the guesthouses offer food, so if you’re staying on a more secluded part of the island, you’ll probably need to count on the kitchen of your stay.
THINGS TO DO ON KOH RONG ISLAND
SWIM WITH BIOLUMINESCENT PLANKTON
One of the coolest things to do in Koh Rong is to swim with the bioluminescent plankton. These little creatures start to glow a tiny blue light when a movement is made in the sea. You have to find a good dark spot close to the beach. Long Beach is usually a good place because there are no lights or people. Spotting the plankton from above the water is difficult. To see them, you need to go at least 1 meter deep into the water. Being surrounded by thousands of tiny blue lights is a magical experience, and you won’t want to get out of the water quickly! Take snorkeling gear with you, seeing them from under the water is even more beautiful.
Travel Tip: The plankton will be harder to find during the full moon period, and if you find them, it will be less spectacular. Try to avoid this and swim with the bioluminescent plankton some days before or after the full moon.
RELAX AT THE BEACH
With its 23 beaches with beautiful clear water, Koh Rong is truly a paradise to relax at the beach. This is probably the primary activity to most people who visit Koh Rong. But it won’t be hard to find a spot where you’ll feel completely alone.
Travel Tip: Take some mosquito repellent or coconut oil with you. A lot of beaches are secluded and are, because of this, full of sand flies.
HIKE TO LONG BEACH
Getting to Long Beach is not limited by just taking a boat taxi. You can also hike to it by going through the jungle. The jungle trek starts at Koh Rong’s Skybar where you get a fantastic view over the bay. From here, it takes only 45 minutes to get to the other side. It’s advised not to wear slippers because the path is very rocky and you need to climb down along the rocks for the last part. At Long Beach, you can walk the 7km long beach towards the village of Sok San. From here, you’re just a 5-minute walk away through the jungle from a lovely waterfall. Getting back is possible by doing the hike again or by taking a boat taxi for only $4. Want to do longer jungle treks? Ask around the town for a guide.
SNORKELING AND DIVING
Koh Rong and its small islands are great places for snorkeling and diving. The reefs are considered one of the best in the Gulf of Thailand. Try to fix a snorkel tour with a local or book a day trip at Koh Tuich for not more than $10. Getting a PADI degree is also possible at the Koh Rong Dive Center.
Another cool activity to do on Koh Rong is to rent a kayak and explore its surrounding islands and mangroves. Places like The Rising Sun Guesthouse rent out kayaks for a day or per hour. Paddleboards and jet skis are also available. Get on the water and enjoy the peace.
Enjoy your time on this little Cambodian paradise!