EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ISLAND PARADISE OF KOH RONG
Koh Rong is roughly 25km off the south coast of Cambodia and is a 45 minute boat trip from the popular holiday town of Sihanoukville.
Koh Rong is not a luxury island. Until recently the island did not even have 24 hour power and even now, power cuts are still relatively common. The variety of accommodations on offer on Koh Rong, range from beds in dormitory style rooms to private rooms in guesthouses and finally our favourite, bungalows on the beach. You will struggle to find anywhere with air conditioning on the island and hot water is also very much a luxury that shouldn’t be expected, but these little sacrifices are well worth the reward!
If you visit the island expecting a rugged, diamond-in-the-rough style, paradise, then I guarantee you’ll find it on Koh Rong!
Upon arriving at Koh Rong, all travellers are met with a decision. Where to stay? Staying on the main beach where dorm beds can be as cheap as $3 and private rooms go for around $10, is easily the best value option. There are plenty of places to choose from and many budget backpackers are quite happy to deal with the loud parties and music from the centre of town.
The next option is to stay within walking distance of the main beach, which basically means walking north or south along the main beach until you find a bungalow that suits your needs and budget.
The final option is to jump into a long tail boat and negotiate a price with the driver to take you to any one of the resorts dotted around private beaches on this stunning island.
Again, remember that this place is rustic. Many of the bungalows will cost much more here than they would on the mainland, and you won't be getting any of the fancy stuff like air-con, TV or minibars. But in their place, you'll be met by unrivalled sea views, white sand beaches and a natural playground to explore!
Just a quick note..... BRING THE MOSQUITO SPRAY! They're the size of dragons!
During our stay on Koh Rong, we chose to stay at the fabulous Treehouse Bungalows!
Click here to read our full review of Treehouse Bungalows, Koh Rong
There is a wide variety of food available on Koh Rong and considering its remote location, the prices at many of the restaurants are relatively fair. Most guesthouses in town as well as the more isolated resorts out of town, all have their own restaurants so you are never too far away from a good meal!
Everything from fresh fruit shakes to local Khmer specialties to Western favourites like pizza, salads and burgers are all available throughout town. Food prices range from $1 baguettes and fruit shakes up to the pricier $8-10 for Western style meals at the top of the scale. Most guesthouses and restaurants serve basic stir-fry and rice dishes for around $3-$4.
Koh Rong has a sleepy, laid back beach atmosphere by day, however by night there are plenty of opportunities for a few sunset drinks to turn into a big night out! Most bars on the island have Happy Hour on beers and cocktails and there are also weekly events and parties organized by a few of the bars in the centre of town.
For the best view on the island, head straight up to Sky Bar. This incredible, wooden chill-out area and bar is set high above the main Touch Beach and by the time you've climbed the 100 odd steps to the top you'll be well and truly ready for an ice cold beer or one of the cocktails on offer.
Later into the evening, the colourful Vagabond restaurant and guesthouse comes alive with loud music and extra tables and chairs set up on the sand to cater for the growing crowd. Along this same stretch are other backpacker type bars such as Bunna's, Bongs and Bamboo all offering Happy Hour beers and a relaxed drinking vibe.
THINGS TO DO:
Koh Rong offers as much or as little as you want during your stay. For those who just want to lap up the island lifestyle, the white sands and turquoise waters of the main beach will quickly become a second home! For those wanting to do a bit of exploring, the island is there for the taking! From walking tracks across the island to kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving, Koh Rong has a wide variety of activities to please every possible visitor.
Koh Rong is one of our personal favourite islands so far in South East Asia. Now obviously we haven’t been to every island throughout the continent, however it has that laid back, undeveloped vibe that has been long lost on so many of Thailand and Vietnam’s most beautiful islands.
Koh Rong is definitely more expensive than mainland Cambodia however we felt that the quality of both food and accommodation was often higher also. The nightlife is certainly no match for nearby Sihanoukville or Thailand’s Phi Phi island however that is also part of Koh Rong’s charm. Koh Rong is ideal for those who like to relax on the beach by day and enjoy a few drinks or a bonfire on the beach by night. From our experience you won't have crazy parties til sunrise here, but there are plenty of places to enjoy a few beers, cheap cocktails and ...who knows how big your night might end up!
Overall, I think Koh Rong is best suited to a mid twenties and older backpacking crowd or couples just wanting to escape and explore for a few days.
My biggest hope is that the mass development currently underway on the island, manages to preserve the beauty, the atmosphere and the rugged natural interior of this unspoilt island.
Enthusiastic but Useless Traveler.