Just when you think you’ve seen it all in S.E. Asia, there’s Koh Rong. Koh Rong is the definition of a backpackers paradise. Its super laid back full of beach BBQ’s and fire twirlers and is apparently the only place in Asia the smoking weed seems to be OK. Besides a couple of insane beach parties each week, there isn’t too much going on here besides swimming, exploring beaches and 2 for 1 cocktails. It is also one of the cheapest island to play on in South East Asia. Although a small island and still under developed, it’s a great place to relax, meet other travelers or just hang out in a hammock.
The main town is Kaoh Touch and is where all the ferries pull in. Its cute and colourful. There are no roads, just the main strip with is right on the beach.
Best things to do in Koh Rong
Take a boat trip – Boat trips are only a few dollars for a day. They are all very similar and can be booked from nearly every place along the main beach. Trips include fishing, BBQ, snorkel equipment & life jackets, sunset at Long Beach and swimming with the bio-luminescent plankton! I hear that Adam’s trip is the best, though a little more expensive!
Swim with the Glowing Plankton – If you don’t do a boat trip, at least hire a boat to take you out swimming with the bio-luminescent plankton. They make the water glow when you move around. You need to go out deep into the water and away from the light to see it best. It’s completely safe to swim with so don’t panic. I recommend not doing this too close to a full moon as it is too light to see the full effect of the glowing plankton.
Zip Lining – Did you really go to South East Asia if you didn’t go zip lining at least once? Probably not. Strap your go pro on for this one. Prices start at approx. $30 for the ropes course including the zip lines and surfing 50m in the air!
Bar Crawls – The bar crawl runs twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, and costs $8 and includes a drink at each bar. How good is that? It’s a great way to meet other travelers to party with at night and chill with during the day.
Police Beach Party – If you’re on Koh Rong on a Wednesday or Saturday (or even better – Full Moon!) then don’t miss out on one of the all-night Police Beach parties. To get to Police Beach, just follow the path through the jungle (past Green Ocean guesthouse) for 15 minutes. Tickets for the parties are available from most bars (prices change depending on whether you visit in high or low season and whether you attend a Full Moon or regular party), and will get you entry, plus one free beer if you arrive before midnight.
Hike to Long Beach – On the other side of the island is the most incredible white sand beach you have ever laid eyes on. It’s about a 45 minute trek through the jungle. Start at Sky bar and make sure you wear proper shoes. Stay for sunset and catch a boat back to town after for around $4
Afternoon drinks at SkyBar – Koh Rong’s sky bar is a great place to just chill and enjoy the afternoon. You can find it by following a narrow alleyway between the minimart and the Rising Sun Guesthouse. A great place to chill for the afternoon, read a book or play a game of pool.
Diving & Snorkelling – There are some good spots to be found. PADI open water courses are reasonably priced but can be found cheaper in other parts of Southeast Asia. It’s a great place to learn so that you are ready to go when you head elsewhere to dive.
Do nothing – I need a few days of nothing after a few big weeks of travel. Sit back in a hammock, lie on the beach, go for a swim, read a book, play some beach volleyball, hire kayak. Koh Rong is the perfect place to detox from the rest of the world and reset in the middle of a trip.
Things to know before you go
There is no ATMs. Make sure you bring plenty of cash with you for your trip. Don’t hand your passport over for a loan either.
There in no electricity. Generators run between 5pm and 11pm in guesthouses. Use this time to charge your gear, especially your power bank so you will have power when you need it most.
There is no WiFi. I think you’re starting to get the picture that this a very undeveloped part of the world. But that why you should come. Switch off and have a technology detox. Some WiFi can be found at some guesthouses if urgent, but don’t expect it to be reliable.
There are sand flies. These pesky buggers cause super itchy bites, but they are only an issue at certain times of the year. Use coconut oil to prevent bites especially when at the beach. Locals sell it everywhere on the island.
Don’t swim in the beach near the sewer in the main part of town. While it didn’t happen to us, we hear backpacker horror stories of people getting sick. There are so many other beautiful beaches to swim at the one in the main town is not worth it. Save your swimming for elsewhere.
How to get there
Koh Rong is located just off the coast of Sihanoukville, a town in the southern region of Cambodia. Sihanoukville is easy to get to via bus from both Phnom Pehn and Siem Reap. We took an overnight bus from Siem Reap that arrived in the morning so that we could head straight over to the island. You’ll need to take a tuk-tuk from the bus terminal to the pier.
Ferries leave from Sihanoukville and $10-15 return for a fast boat and take approx. 45 minutes. Slow boats are cheaper, take over 2 and 1/2 hours but didn’t look very safe. Up to you!
Where to sleep
There are endless options for dorms, guesthouses and bungalows on the island. There is no need to pre-organize your accommodation. When you get off the ferry have a look around along the beach and check a few places out to find something that suits you and your budget. Nearly everywhere is basic and primitive so don’t come looking for high-end luxury. You can get a bed for about $4-8 a night.
Tree house Bungalows – We stayed here after a recommendation from a friend. This is probably the only bungalow, hostel or guesthouse that you would need to pre-book. They were a bit more expensive at about $30 a night but you get to stay in a bungalow in a tree hanging over the ocean. It doesn’t get much cooler than waking up and sitting on your balcony over the ocean in the mornings. They are located a 5 minute walk down the far end of the beach so all you hear at night is the waves laping the shore and not the parties in the main part of town. Plus there is heaps of beautiful doggos to pat.
Where to eat
De Matti – A strange cross between a reggae bar and an Italian restaurant serving up delish homemade pasta which goes down a treat after a day out on the water. Find them out on the pier.
Monkey Island – This backpackers/bungalows are great for western food.
Treehouse Bungalows – They serve up delicious wood fire pizzas big enough to share for $6.
Coco’s BBQ – There are plenty of places along the main beach to get a good BBQ feed (probably something to do with the lack of power) Coco’s, just as you hop off the ferry, have a great $5 deal for any protein, sides and a drink. Go during their 2 for 1 cocktail hours – they are seriously potent.
Where to next
The island has everything you could want from a tropical paradise—crystal clear water, delicious food, vibrant nightlife and plenty to see & do! Make sure to add Koh Rong to your Cambodia itinerary! While you’re at it check out my other post from Cambodia here!
All opinions are my own. None of the places recommended are sponsored in any way.
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