Last updated on October 2nd, 2018 at 10:59 pm
Planning to visit Koh Rong soon?
Koh Rong is the second largest island in Cambodia and one of the most beautiful places that we have ever been into. It´s not very touristic yet and we think that it’s one of the best things about it. You can even find empty beaches here. We will let you know our favorite things to do in Koh Rong, how to get to Koh Rong from Phnom Penh and much more in our full travel guide to Koh Rong.
How to get to Koh Rong
Travelers who visit Cambodia usually arrive first in either Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. From these two, you can visit Koh Rong, Sihanoukville or Kampot.
How to get Koh Rong from Phnom Penh
From Phnom Penh, you have to ride a bus to Sihanoukville. It will take 3-4 hours depending on the traffic. If you leave during peak hours, it will take you a couple of hours to leave the city. The price for the ride is $6-$10, depending on the bus company you will choose and how much comfort you need. You can also go to Sihanoukville by riding a van. It’s faster but more expensive.
Once you are in Sihanoukville, you can choose whether to go to Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem.
There are ferry rides going to Koh Rong which cost around $15-$20. It’s already a speed boat for one way ticket. However, there are also slow ferries which cost around $7-$10 one way ticket. The speed boat will take more or less an hour to reach Koh Rong from Sihanoukville while the slow ferry will take a couple of hours.
Transportation around Koh Rong
Since Koh Rong is a remote destination, it’s no surprise that there are actually no public land transportation systems in the island. The best way to go around Koh Rong is on foot, especially since the resort villages here are easy to explore. The next best thing is to hire a traditional Cambodian fishing boat called a longtail from Koh Tuich, the most developed area in Koh Rong. A trip to Sok-San (also known as Bai Tau) goes for around $25 USD. If you really feel the need to travel by land on the one existing main road in Koh Rong, you can rent a 4WD (4-wheel drive) for $60-120 USD, though we really believe this to be an unnecessary use of funds.
Best time to visit Koh Rong
Koh Rong is a pretty warm destination any time of the year. Still, the city has a wet season where short but heavy rains can be expected around mid-May to November. For those who want to experience Koh Rong’s warmest days, March to May is a great time to visit Koh Rong. However, it might get too hot so always prepare sunscreen.
In our opinion, the best time to visit Koh Rong weather-wise would be from November to February as the city gets just the right level of warm and dry during these months. If you want to save up on accommodation expenses, you can head to Koh Rong from September to early November when it is still the wet season but there is little rain and you can still spend hours at the beach.
ATMs & Currency in Koh Rong
Cambodia uses the riel (KHR) as its currency and is the most commonly used means of exchange in the country. To get an idea of how much a riel is worth, $1 USD = 4,100 KHR. So, if you’re coming from a western nation, consider yourself a lucky man when you visit as your dollars, euros or pounds can go a long way here in Koh Rong.
What is unfortunate, however, is the lack of banks and ATMs in Koh Rong. You should definitely bring all the necessary cash that you need for your vacation when going here as you won’t find any place to access your savings account here. If you do ran out of cash and are willing to borrow money with a 10% fee, there are lending services in Koh Rong that offer this opportunity.
Daily Budget to visit Koh Rong
There are many ways to spend money in Koh Rong depending on your budget and your needs. For those who only want to spend around $50 USD per day in Koh Rong, there are guesthouses and inns that offer rooms for $5-10 USD. An inexpensive yet hearty meal can go for as low as $2-4.50 USD while street food goes for even less at $1-3 USD.
Other travelers who want to spend over $50 USD a day have the option to stay at an air conditioned hotel room for anywhere between $15-50 USD and eat a local restaurant for $5-15 USD. Guided tours can also be afforded with a mid-range budget at $25-35 USD for an entire day around Koh Rong. Thinking of splurging during your visit? There are boutique hotels all over the island that offer rooms up to $500 USD a night and fancier meals in Koh Rong go for $25-50 USD.
Another excellent option for traveling in Koh Rong is booking a place with AirBnB! There are double rooms and bungalows in Koh Rong available for less than $15 USD. Have you ever tried this app? Click here to get a great discount when you sign up with AirBnB!
Our first stop was Koh Rong and we highly recommend traveler to stay at Sok San Beach Resort.
If you want a luxurious vacation, then you should stay at Sok San. The beach was spacious, has white sand, clean and clear water. The bungalows are beautiful and it’s nice to stay there if you want the views of the sea.
We spent 3 days in this paradise. Though you can enjoy many activities here, we couldn’t because of the rain. We just relaxed and enjoyed the beach when the rain stops. It was a good thing that they also have a good, working internet so we were able to catch up with our online job.
How to get to Sok San Beach Resort
There’s a private boat from Sihanoukville to Sok San Beach Resort. It accompanies visitors back and forth to Sihanoukville 2-3 times a day. The schedule depends on the weather and demands or number of visitors. Price is $20 for a 45-minute ride one way ticket. After the boat ride, they will drive you for 5 minutes to the hotel. This jeep ride is included in the price of the boat ride.
You guys would enjoy the whole beach for yourself. It was very quiet and you would meet locals around. The only problem we encountered with Sok San Beach Resort was the transportation as the weather wasn’t the best when we visited. We had to ride a long tail boat and a private taxi to arrive in Kong Rong Samloem. It was really expensive, cost us $35 for an hour ride since there were no other options due to bad weather.
Things to do in Koh Rong
There are many things to do in Koh Rong, even the places are small, there are restaurants, activities to do and plenty of time for relaxing in Koh Rong.
Kayaking and paddleboarding
Because of the still and calm waters in Koh Rong’s beaches, there are many relaxing water activities you can do aside from swimming. There are plenty of resorts that offer kayaks and paddleboards for rent to those who want to explore the surface of the waters of Koh Rong.
Snorkeling and diving
Koh Rong’s beaches and nearby areas are excellent diving and snorkeling spots for its crystal clear waters. You can rent a long tail boat to go on snorkeling trips for $10-20 USD, with the price depending a lot on whether a local Khmer guide or an English-speaking one will accompany you on your tour.
For those who want to go scuba diving in Koh Rong, there are more than 15 dive sites to choose from. Koh Rong Dive Center offers some of the cheapest diving courses in Asia for those who want to learn.
The fine sand and warm weather in Koh Rong also bring the perfect conditions for playing sports like soccer or volleyball. Here, you’ll see many tourists just having fun in the sun with ball sports played with friends both old and new.
Night walk in the beach
Koh Rong is not only spectacular to see under the sun but can also be enjoyed at night. Walking around the beach is especially nice if you’re with your special someone who you can talk to about travel, life and everything else in between.
Explore High Point Adventure Park
For $30 USD, you can get in High Point Adventure Park, the island’s most popular destination. Here, you can have a wonderful adventure with both jungle and ocean views through the zipline and high ropes on the treetops. The first round of your visit comes with a guide then you can explore the park on your own afterwards. This is a highly recommended activity especially for those who want to have a unique experience in Koh Rong. High Point Adventure Park is open daily from 10 AM to 6 PM.
It doesn’t take too much to do volunteer work in Koh Rong. If you have the time and are willing to extend a helping hand, there are plenty of organizations that do charity work in the island that you can approach. Just make sure you are committed to to helping out and you are well-informed on what it takes to be a volunteer. You can click here to read about “volontourism” and how it can affect your decision to do volunteer work.
Cambodia is a great country to go island hopping in, with each little territory containing beautiful beaches and welcoming residents. In every island, you’ll find something unique to fall in love with. For $5 USD, you can go to Koh Rong Sanloem, a romantic spot 17 km away. To reach Koh Tah Kiev, you might need to go back to Sihanoukville and take a ferry. Upon reaching the small island, you’ll find yourself in a nature-lover’s paradise. Koh Thmei and Koh Totang are other islands that backpackers will enjoy visiting for their simplicity.
Watching the sunset
A trip to any island will not be complete without catching a glimpse of the sun as it goes down the horizon. Koh Rong’s sunsets are truly wonderful. Just imagine sitting on fine sand and watching the reflection of the pink and orange sky on Koh Rong’s calm waters.
Because of the tranquility of Koh Rong, this is the place to do one of the best things us humand can ever do: nothing. Well, not literally nothing. By that we mean sunbathing or just chilling at a hammock. Reading a book you’ve always been busy to check out counts too. Enjoy your vacation and much needed R&R!
Beaches in Koh Rong
Koh Toch Beach
Upon reaching the island of Koh Rong, the first beach you’ll set foot on is Koh Toch. Koh Toch Village is a party town that offers the cheapest lodging for backpackers with guest houses that charge less than $10 USD. Koh Rong is the most crowded and therefore noisiest spot in the island and is known for its blaring music and cheap booze. The beach itself is beautiful, much more peaceful and has plenty of waterfront accommodations.
Long Set (4k) Beach
Walking from Koh Toch, you will reach Long Set Beach in 30-40 minutes. This pristine beach is way less crowded than Koh Toch but is still very accessible and has mid-range prices on food, lodging and other services. Many of the accommodations are around 15 minutes away from the beach, but the extra effort to go to the shore is worth the peace and quiet achieved by this distance.
Looking for the most tranquil beach in Koh Rong? Palm Beach is a clean and quiet resort next to Lonely Beach that has crystal clear waters and a very relaxing vibe. The price you pay for this solitude is accessibility, as Palm Beach can only be reached through a boat from the main port or from other beaches in the island. Palm Beach also has no shops and no Wi-Fi, making it a wonderful retreat where one can just relax and enjoy nature.
Sok San Beach
Those who want to immerse themselves in the local culture should head to Sok San, a village filled with fishing families and wonderful stretches of white sand. It is also referred to as Long Beach by foreigners who fell in love with the Koh Rong’s west side gem. Sok San is also famous for being the filming location for the TV series Survivor. Here, you’ll get to know Khmer culture by interacting with locals and have an authentic local meal for only $2 USD.
Perhaps the most isolated beach in Koh Rong, located on the island’s northernmost tip, is aptly named Lonely Beach. This destination is loved by tourists for its serenity that cannot be found anywhere else in the island. Lonely Beach is also home to amazing bioluminescent plankton that glows in the water at night. Because of its private location, Lonely Beach is pretty hard to get to. It takes 2-3 hours on a small boat from Sihanoukville and, like Palm Beach, has no shops and no Wi-Fi. Staying in this island paradise is the best way to detach yourself from the rest of the world.
Food to try in Koh Rong
Eat fish amok
A definite must-try in Koh Rong and everywhere else in Cambodia is fish amok, a curry dish cooked with freshwater fish, coconut milk, fish paste, palm sugar and eggs. Spices such as lemongrass, turmeric root, kaffir lime and a local bitter herb called slok ngor are also added to give the dish a distinct flavor. Fish amok is cooked by steaming the ingredients in bowl-shaped banana leaf.
Try lok lak
Another famous local delicacy in Koh Rong is lok lak, or stir-fried beef served on top of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and onions. The highlight of lok lak next to the meat is the incredible dipping sauce made from lime juice and local Kampot peppers. You can use the lettuce as a wrap to eat lok lak in the traditional Khmer style.
Buy some chive cake
Locally known as num kachay, chive cakes are snacks that originated in China and are simply fried rice flour with chopped chives. It is a popular street food in Koh Rong and is very delicious especially when paired with some sweet and spicy fish sauce.
Taste nom banh chok
Another street food that you can easily buy anywhere in the country is nom banh chok, the quintessential Cambodian dish favored by both locals and tourists. The dish is made from rice noodles, bean sprouts and banana flowers along with some basil, cucumber and mint. Finally, Nom banh chok will not be complete without the special green fish curry that all Khmers love.
Festivals in Koh Rong
Many of the festivals held in Koh Rong usually follow a spiritual theme. Events vary every year depending on the organizers and venues in Koh Rong. Events like the Four Twenty Festival, FreeFlow Fire & Arts Festival and some Full Moon and Water festivals have been held in the island in recent years. Koh Rong, after all, is the perfect place to get in touch with our roots and appreciate the Universe’s natural gifts.
Koh Rong Samloem
If you want a local experience and some night parties, then this is your place! We really loved the local atmosphere plus the affordable prices.
How to get to M´Pay Bay
There are boats going to Sihanoukville and to the South Island (prices between $5-7 per ride one way ticket).
We stayed at Beach House Cambodia and we surely recommend it to you. Prices were affordable and the service was great. We loved the common areas with hammocks and comfortable couch for relaxing during the day. Around M´Pay Bay, you can feel the local vibes and it was a really nice place to stay in. There’s also music at night around the area if you feel like partying.
What to do in Koh Rong Samloem
It’s a nice and easy trekking area where you won’t be lost. At your destination after trekking, you will enjoy a half-empty beach for yourself. This place is great to catch up and watch the sunset. It takes around 45-50 minutes to get there.
Swimming and Snorkeling
There are many tour companies that you can go to if you want to do a snorkeling day trip. The water is very calm and you can swim here with yourself or with your companion.
This place was beyond words. It was really beautiful. Despite of the bad weather, we still managed to take a few shots.
How to get to Saracen Bay? From M´Pay Beach, you can ride a speed boat (15 minutes for $5) that will take you to Sihanoukville where you will have another boat ride that will take an hour or so. It will cost $7-$8 one way ticket. This depends on the weather conditions and the stops the speed boat will make. If you will ride the slow boat, it will take you a couple of hours and prices start at $5. If you aren’t in a hurry or on a budget, it would be great for you to ride the slow boat. We took the speed boat because we were in a hurry to get to Phnom Penh and it was the convenient way for us.
The weather was really bad and it was challenging to leave the boat in Sihanoukville. Good thing that staff of the boat were very helpful with all the passengers and our belongings. Once you are in the port, you will ride a free shuttle going around Sihanoukville. If you are leaving Sihanoukville, they will drive you to the bus station where they will arrange a bus ticket.
If you are heading to Phnom Penh, the bus ticket will cost you $6-$7 one way ticket. And it will include the transportation to catch the bus from the selling point. If you want to go faster, then ride a mini van which costs around $10. This will save you time. The bus ride to Phnom Penh lasts 4-5 hours. Of course your arrival time to Cambodia’s capital city will depend on the traffic.
If you want to read more of our adventures in Cambodia, click here to read about our stay at Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa. Or click here to read all our experience in Siem Reap where we visited Angkor temples and loved them so much!