As committed, I just finished my trip at Koh Rong island during this Valentine’s Day, and I am now showing you guys about this amazing tourist site. Koh Rong is located in Koh Kong province, but since it is near Sihanouk coast and to reach Koh Rong, you need to take a boat from Sihanouk port, it makes people get confused that the island is in Sihanouk Ville.
First, I apologize for many photos shown in the post even more than description 😀 But I just feel that it is more than words can say, so I intentionally put lots of pictures from my camera and my friend’s to describe the view there. But the real view is much more beautiful than what I show in the photos!
Koh Rong is one of the most beautiful islands in Cambodia, which is nicknamed as paradise on land surrounded by sea. There are two kinds of boat available to go there, one is slow boat which takes around 2 hours and a half and costs $10/person for one-side travel or $20/person for round trip, and another is speed boat which takes around 30 minutes to 45 minutes and costs $15/person for one-side travel or $30/person for round trip. I heard from my friends that the time we went is in high season, so the price of the boat ticket is expensive, but I am not quite sure about it or when it is cheaper. You can either book the boat ticket via Email or buy at the place (near two-lion statue តោពីរ), but I suggest you to book online in case it is full if you are late; and surprisingly, foreigners run this business.
*** Things you should bring along to the island: Suncream, Insect Repellent, Torch (if possible)
When you arrive in Koh Rong, you will be landed on Koh Toch beach, and that is the most crowded place where most visitors stay as bungalows, restaurants and pubs are available there.
Since bungalows on the island are limited, it is better for you to book the room online at least a week in advance, especially during high season and holiday. There are a few different styles of bungalows (location) such as normal style, on foot hill (island itself), in front of the beach and even up high like on the tree. Tents are also available for rent, which costs about $5/night each if I am not mistaken.
The one up high like on the tree is at a place little far from the crowd which is called TreeHouse Bungalow, so for those who want to stay at a quiet place and experience sleeping in high room on the tree-like, plus snorkeling a little to see corals and fish just in front of the bungalow, TreeHouse is the choice. Price is around $35/night for a room of two people in maximum. However, there are also normal rooms available at TreeHouse. Additionally, sand at the beach there is a little red, unlike at Koh Toch beach where sand is white, but it is still beautiful 🙂
During my trip, I stayed at Coco bungalow for it is located in crowded area (limited crowded), just in front of the pier, and chose rooms at foot hill (island). It cost $25/night for a room of 4 people in maximum. Do not expect AC or even fan (TV also) as the electricity is not rich (they depend on generators for power), and it will be cut off after mid-night till late morning, but the weather is favorably cool enough and fresh water is always available and clean too. However, you should help save water because fresh water on island is precious!
Our first day, we arrived on the island safe, and for our first night, we prepared many things for our own BBQ including beef, squid, shrimp, vegetable and also some drinks. We borrowed BBQ cooker from the bungalow’s staffs, but of course, we also bought coal from Sihanouk Ville for this, well-prepared huh? 😀
*** Medical help on the island is very limited. There is some first aid treatment at Dive Center or you might ask from any bungalows, but you’d better take care of yourself.
Aside from Koh Toch beach, there is another and even more beautiful beach on Koh Rong; that is called Long Beach which is north of Koh Toch.
Our second day on the island, we decided to explore Long Beach. We had planned to go there by boat, but since the sea was wavy, we were told we could go there on foot, and it might have taken around 40 minutes. So we refilled our energy with local breakfast and got ready for trekking journey.
To reach Long Beach, there are two ways, one is taking a boat from Koh Toch, which takes around 30 minutes or more depending on weather, and another is trekking up through the jungle hill (island itself) and down to the beach. Taking boat might sound easier, but with wavy sea, it is quite risky especially for those who cannot swim. Some might prefer walking on land rather than traveling in water, but way from Koh Toch to Long Beach is no joke since some paths are steep and rocky, up and down in the jungle. And our expected 40-minute trekking turned out to be more than 1 hour 😀
However, Long Beach is worth taking that challenging trekking, and I can say that the beach is a gorgeous treasure of Koh Rong because it is an untouched beach with long white sand, very clear sea water and really fresh air, naturally beautiful. Also, it is a famous place on the island for the tourists to see wonderful sunset. Unfortunately, I could not manage to see that moment there since the weather was unfavorable due to wavy sea that we did not think it was good to travel by boat back in the late evening or walk back through the jungle after the sky became dark, plus we were so tired trekking there earlier. Hopefully, next time I can make it.
We left Long Beach by machine boat at 1:30pm. The boat could load up to around 9 passengers, but since it parked a little far from the beach, we needed to cross the water. Can you guess how? Swim? How about our belongings? 😀 Let’s see… You can check my photo above and did you notice a big basket? So here, the below photo will tell you. That big basket is made to keep our belongings in while crossing water to the boat, so do not worry, it will not leak, but how about us? Those who can swim just follow the basket in the water, and those who cannot can get in the basket, BUT only one or two people can get in, otherwise it will sink 😀
Unfortunately, few photos taken during the travel by machine boat back to Koh Toch since the waves were a bit serious! I got wet along the way when waves splashed on us, and everyone became silent, keeping eyes on the wavy sea, and sometimes I shouted with shock and fear when the boat faced huge waves. However, we had life jackets and the boat crews were professional enough to take us back safe and ALIVE 😀
Aside from sunset at Long Beach, you can easily see sunrise at Koh Toch beach, just try to be an early bird and you will feel soft warmth of sunshine.
Another thing I missed is fishing. It is also a popular and fun activity to do when you visit Koh Rong. As I was told, we need to leave from Koh Toch to places available for fishing, such as other isolated islands nearby or in the middle of the sea (but it also depends on weather), and the price is around $10-12 per person, which also includes stuffs for fishing and fish BBQ on the boat. You can just imagine fresh fish with spicy sauce, how delicious it could be! A more interesting activity on the island is diving. There is a dive center on the island, so you can contact them for more information if you want to dive down to see living things under the sea such as fish, corals and more. You can also enjoy snorkeling if you cannot swim that deep for diving. Moreover, there is a waterfall on the island too, but we were told that it is quite far, hard to go plus the unfavorable weather, we could not see it. I guess only adventurous explorers dare to go to the waterfall.
Noticeably, bungalows, restaurants and pubs there are most run by foreigners, and only some local food stores belong to local people. More than that, I might say around 90% of the visitors are foreigners, not many Khmer people go there, so when I was there with my friends, I felt like the island was foreign island belonging to foreigners and we were Khmer visiting this foreign island, when actually the island is ours.
The most crowded period is at night, but do not worry, it is not really crowded, but just with enough people on the beach enjoying dinner, drinking, chitchatting and other fun activities there.
Our third and last day on Koh Rong, we got up, prepared stuffs and had breakfast, then waited for the boat to leave the island.
We had planned to take slow boat back (since we booked round trip) at 10am, but as we experienced sea sick on our first day coming to the island, we changed to speed boat by just adding $5 more for each. However, that day the sea was quite wavy, and lots of tourists were going back too, so first speed boat at 11am was full and we could not get in since we did not originally buy tickets for speed boat, so they prioritized those who bought speed boat’s tickets and those who hurried back for bus and flight departure.
During our waiting for the second speed boat at 1pm, we roamed around on the island to another southern side. I was thinking “is it possible we have to stay here for another night?” as we all were afraid that we could not catch the second boat again since many tourists missed the first boat and were waiting too.
Finally, the second speed boat arrived, but a bit late, at around 2pm, and we hurriedly got in, otherwise we really needed to stay there for another night (but everyone had to go back for work the next day). Many people were trying to catch the boat; luckily, we could get in, but some others could not as the boat was already full.
At around 3:15pm, we arrived at Ochheu Teal beach, Sihanouk Ville, but because we arrived late (missed the first boat on the island), we could not catch the bus at 2:30pm as planned, and since another bus would depart at 5pm, we could not wait or else we would be in Phnom Penh at late night, so we decided to take taxi. How pity! We also missed our lunch! So along the way back, an uncle taking taxi with us told us there was a good place to eat local grilled chicken (មាន់ស្រែ), so we had lunch-dinner there. It was so delicious or maybe we were too tired and hungry 😀
An important information is that an investment group has contracted Koh Rong with the government, and soon will develop it to become a private island and resort (like Song Saa private island nearby Koh Rong). So far the investment group has left bungalows, pubs and restaurants safe for the time being, but they have already signed agreements to leave the island whenever they are ordered to. So if you want to witness Koh Rong’s perfect beaches, sea and enjoy diving, fishing, snorkeling and other interesting activities on the island that you cannot do at Sihanouk beaches, other coastal areas or private islands that you cannot reach, just find time to visit Koh Rong NOW before it turns to be a private island. To sum up, our trip was so adventurous, and we experienced lots of transport types, including slow boat, fast boat, machine boat, tuk tuk, bus and taxi. However, it is worth going as Koh Rong is like a paradise island in the country, and it is a very attractive tour destination especially for Western people. Once you arrive there, you will feel so relaxed with the amazing view, and you can always hear the sound of waves every day and night. I wish I could stay there longer than 3 days 🙂