Koh Rong – Hidden paradise in southern Cambodia
Koh Rong is a truely wonderful place. This island is a hidden paradise for tourists from all over the world. It is still quite undeveloped and basic, which makes it really fascinating to a lot of people. Because of the fact that tourism didn’t not take over to much yet, it is very sought after. Everyone, who visits this place now, still gets a good glimpse of how paradise suppose to be. But this won’t last for long.
I went to Koh Rong after I visited Otres Beach. I did not think, there could be anything more beautiful in this country than Otres Beach. But I got disabused. Koh Rong is a hidden paradise and it’s suprisingly beautiful in my opinion.
There is a lot to do and to discover. It’s more of an island for backpackers at the moment, but this will certainly change in the future. Koh Rong is predestinated to become a fully developed tourism spot. And I can easily see the reasons why.
Koh Rong – General information
Guys, there is a little bit of general stuff to tell about Koh Rong, but not that much. This is why I want to focus more on the highlights and what to do. Still, you should know a little bit about the island 🙂
Things to know
Koh Rong is the second largest island in Cambodia and it lies southwest of Sihanoukville in the Gulf of Thailand. It has a size of about 78 km². The main place of arrival, which is also the main area to stay at for tourists, lies in the southeast of the island. There are a couple other spots on the island where you could stay (read below).
Some people on the internet say Koh Rong already has a “party island” reputation, which is not really true. You only find this specific type of tourism industry at the harbour. Everything else is pretty untouched.
Koh Rong is a relatively young commune, which has been established in 2.000. The Cambodian goverment actually has the plan to make the island “Asia’s first environmentally planned resort island”, which would be a great role modelling project for whole Southeast Asia. It is also a statement against an overloaded island full of tourism. I actually got exactly that feeling when I was there.
Considering the fact, that Koh Rong is the 2nd biggest island of the country, it is not really to touristic yet. You can mainly see this, if you look at what most locals earn their income with (fishing 70%). But still, it will be way different in the future.
Weather conditions at Koh Rong are pretty solid. Generally Koh Rong lies in the subtropical area. There is a dry and a wet season. Wet season is from May to October. The rest is dry season.
Temperature sets between 20°C and 34°C. So, it’s always very pleasent. Even the water temperature is very nice all the time (about 28°C on an averages). It’s like taking a good bath, which is not to cold and not to warm.
Overall the weather on Koh Rong is pretty decent 🙂
How to get there
Koh Rong is only accessable via speed ferry. There is no space for an airport on the island. The speed ferry should only take about 45 minutes (15-20$), but it always takes longer. In Southeast Asia it’s never the estimated time 😉
Depending on where you want to go on the island, you will be charged extra for an additional longtail boat ride (typical Cambodian boat). Usually most people get dropped off at the ferry terminal/ main harbour.
How to get around
The only real option you have at Koh Rong is walking. There are no real streets on the island yet. You will find foot paths, but the island doesn’t have any real infrastructure. And don’t expect any Tuk Tuk’s or something similar. You won’t find them.
If you want to get to another even more secluded beach anywhere on the island, then you would have to take a boat or walk by yourself.
Short tip: If you decide to walk through the jungle, be aware of snakes.
Food on Koh Rong is not really different to the rest of the country. Nevertheless you will find more cheap seafood than on the mainland. That’s the only major difference. But in general you’ll get typical Cambodian dishes with all kind of spices and flavours for a cheap price. Because Koh Rong is an island, the prices are a little higher than on the mainland. But not a lot.
You also find all kind of western dishes. English breakfast, pizza, pasta, etc. It’s all there. So, don’t worry, if you don’t like Asian food that much 😉
You can find different kinds of accommodation on the island. From high standard to lower backpacker standard. I slept in a small backpackers hostel, 30m left after you get off the gangplank at the main harbour. I payed about 8$ for a bed in a 4 person dorm room. Because I wanted to save some money at that time, I chose a cheap hostel.
But there are various other places to stay. At Kaoh Touch Beach or Long Set Beach you can find some very nice bungalows to stay in. That’s where the paradisaic feeling starts to come up 😉
If you rather want to stay at a more luxerious resort, then go to Longset Resort at Long Set Beach 😉
Short tip: Even though the beds have mosquito nets, take some good mosquito spray with you.
The cost on Koh Rong are pretty low. It does not matter, if we talk about accommodation, food, tours or anything else:
- Accommodation: 8-25 $ for a hostel – Resort prices are a little higher
- Food: 3,50-15$ for a meal, depending on where & what you eat
- Tours: 10$ for a snorkeling, fishing, etc. day tour
Obviously there is more to cover like scuba diving, a night out, etc. But that is all variable in my opinion, so it’s pointless to give examples.
Koh Rong – Highlights & what to do
Now let’s come to what makes Koh Rong so great…
Koh Rong is full of amazing beaches. There is probably no other place in Cambodia, where you can find more paradisaic beaches than on Koh Rong. It already starts with Kaoh Touch Beach, which is right next to the harbour. It’s a beautiful white sand beach with beach bungalows right next to it and a wonderful view onto the turquoise ocean.
But it’s not just this one. There are many more incredible beaches on Koh Rong. Make sure to check out the following:
- Long Set Beach
- Sok San Beach (Long Beach)
- Police Beach
- Vietnamese Beach
- Nature Beach
Here is a good map of most beaches you can have a look at. I personally liked Police Beach and Long Beach the most. Especially the sunset at Long Beach is absolutely wonderful!
Short tip: The further you go north the lonelier the beaches gonna be 😉
Nightlife at Koh Rong is great. It is a lot of fun. Near the port are a couple good bars, which play live music. Some of them even invite professional DJ’s, who play all kind of chart music. You’ll meet a lot of people from different countries and every person you’ll see is in a good mood.
You can also go on a pub crawl, which always happens on Tuesday and Sunday. The island even has a stooner bar (Vagabonds), which has a free beer happy hour. A cool bar to hang out at.
The party scene in Koh Rong is definitely good fun 🙂
Short tip: Make sure to check out the Skybar. You have a great view onto the sunset and the surrounding area from there
Scuba diving & snorkeling
Scuba diving and snorkeling at Koh Rong is awesome. Everywhere you go, the water is crystal clear and warm. You can swim all day long without getting cold. The marine life is very vivid and colourful. Corals have not been damaged that much yet and you find all kind of fish. As soon as you step into the water, you will be surrounded by countless of them. Parrotfish, diamond fish, jumping fish, yellow boxfish, diamond fish, needlefish and squid are just a couple to name. So nice!
There are various very good spots for snorkeling. Kaoh Toch is one of the for example. Another good one is Police Beach in my opinion.
Scuba diving licenses (PADI) can be done for about 380$ including accommodation and food, which is quite alright. It’s not as cheap as in Koh Tao (Thailand), but it’s still a decent price. To get a good overview of the different dive sites, check this out.
Fishing like a local
Fishing like a local should also be on your list of things to do in Koh Rong. The locals have a very basic way of how to fish. They normally do it from their boats. They like to stop in deep waters.
At first, they attach a thread and a small hook to a small stone. Then they put some mini shrimps onto the hook and throw the stone into the water. They let it sink for about 10 seconds and then slowly pull it up again. When they do it, they catch something most of the time. It’s fascinating!
When you do it, you won’t catch as many as they do, but still get out a couple ones as well. Promised!
Also try to go on a hike when you are at Koh Rong. This island does not only have pretty beaches, but also a beautiful inner landscape. You can walk through the jungle to get to various cool spots. As said, I recommend you to watch out for snakes. There is no real hospital on the island.
Don’t be scared though. They are more afraid of you than you are of them. So, they usually stay away. Still, make sure to wear some solid shoes and not just Flip Flops. And, if you can, take a local with you.
A boat cruise is what I liked the most on Koh Rong. We did a full day tour including lunch, dinner, drinking water, snorkeling and fishing gear for 10$. The Cambodians take care of you all the time. The only thing you need to bring is a proper towel.
At first you will get to different snorkeling spots like Wat Kaoh Toch for example. Later on the tour, you’ll try out the stated local fishing techniques, which work very well for most people. I caught four fish on my tour.
You’ll end up at Long Beach in the evening. You will pepare your own dinner on site. Grilled fish with rice and some premade souce. On most days you will additionally get to see an awesome sunset. There is almost nobody on that 4 km beach. You feel like you have got lost, but in a good way 😉 Very recommendable!
Short tip: Make sure to bring good sunscreen. The sun is very strong.
All in all Koh Rong is an absolutely stunning place and I have never heard anybody, who was there, say that they did not like this island. Hopefully it takes a while until it will be a very touristic spot. I just recommend anyone to get there as fast as you can before it’s to crowded…
Koh Rong – What I have learned
Koh Rong was a good teacher for me. I learned another lesson there. Even though I have learned a lot on my travels already, there is still always something new.
At Koh Rong I felt a little lonely for the first time at any of my travels.
I got to know a couple dudes from the U.S., who have been quite nice, but during my whole stay I could not really connect with someone. I realized at that time, that the best travel experiences do not come from the destination, but from the people you meet. You can be at the most beautiful place on earth, but, if you can not share it with someone you like, it’s not that great of an experience.
But there is another fact that goes along with it. I also realized, that I did/ do not want surround myself with the wrong people either. Because:
You are a product of the people you surround yourself with
You can apply this to normal life/ everyday life too.
If you only hang out on your own, you might get lonely. If you hang out with negative people, you will become negative too. But, if you hang out with creative, active and positive people, you will have a great time and you will also be/ become the same way as them.
You are always gonna be product of your enviroment, no matter what…
Want to know more about Otres Beach? Read here
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