Koh Rong: Cambodia’s Best Getaway
Updated June 2023, Koh Rong Travel Guide was originally written in November 2015
I was blown away on my first visit to Koh Rong Island, off the southwest coast of Cambodia. Never in my life had I seen sand that blinding white and water so clear and perfectly turquoise. That was 2012. I hadn’t traveled much and I think my beach visits had been limited to Hawaii, California, and the Mediterranean.
But Koh Rong has changed, substantially. There was no electricity, no mobile signal, no roads, no wifi, no anything really back then– and that was the beauty of it. Just a scattering of about four or so thatched bungalows for rent, a couple of villages, thick jungle, and wild camping on the beach.
Now, almost all modern amenities are available. It’s crazy how quickly these places can change in a few short years.
Does that mean it’s no longer worth visiting? Of course not. Koh Rong still has a magical feel about it.
In this travel guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip to Cambodia’s beautiful Koh Rong Island.
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- Boats: The only way to get to Koh Rong is by boat from Sihanoukville.
- Visas: Many nationalities can visit Cambodia on an e-visa, which you can apply for here. E-visas cost $35 and are valid for 30 days.
- Weather: Daytime temps hover around 30ºC year-round. Koh Rong does have a wet and dry season. November-April are typically the best months to visit with drier weather. May and October can still be somewhat dry but rain isn’t unheard of. June-September is usually hot and humid and rain can be expected.
- Language: Khmer is the official language of Cambodia, but English and French are pretty widely spoken in those in the tourism industry.
- Money: Cambodia operates on the US Dollar, though very small purchases can be made with Cambodian Riel. As for a daily budget you can expect to fall in the $30-50 per day range depending on the type of accommodations, activities, and restaurants you eat at. This was a big change from my first visit when there just weren’t that many choices.
- Bring Cash: There are no ATMs on Koh Rong.
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How To Get To Koh Rong
The only way to get to Koh Rong is by ferry or fast boat from Sihanoukville. Most ferries arrive at the pier at Koh Tui (White) Beach, though there are now three more piers on the island– so do verify where you’re ferry will be docking.
Ferries depart several times every day in both directions. A round-trip ticket will cost $22, and you can also opt to return from nearby Koh Rong Samloem.
You can expect the trip to take about one hour each direction, which is much faster than the three-hour ferry I took on my first visit.
How To Get Around Koh Rong
Koh Rong is small enough that you can get to most places on foot, however, there now is a road on the island. You can rent motorbike/scooters and cruise the island road, though do be careful as there are plenty of rough patches and potholes. You can also opt to rent a boat/driver and cruise around the island.
Where To Stay On Koh Rong
This is where I’ve seen the biggest changes in Koh Rong from my first visit. In 2012 there were only a few basic bungalows up for rent, and bringing a tent was a good idea in the event everything was booked in the high season– that and you had to turn up and find out what you’re options were on arrival as there was no wifi or mobile signal out here.
Fast forward to 2021 and Koh Rong has a plethora of accommodation options that fit every budget from busted backpackers to luxury resorts. Most of the hotels and hostels are centered around Koh Tui Beach as that is where most of the life is. If you’re looking for more basic and secluded I recommend trying Sok San Village on the north side of Long Beach or 4 km Beach, just north of Koh Tui.
What To See & Do
There’s plenty to see and do in Koh Rong to keep you occupied for a few days, or best of all, do nothing at all!
Laze On The Beaches
Koh Rong is home to a number of stunning beaches. Koh Tui is where most of the action happens, but as such can feel crowded. My favorites were 4 km Beach and most of all, Long Beach.
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Take A Boat Tour
You can hop on an all-day boat tour to snorkel, fish, and even do a sunset swim with the bioluminescent plankton here. Boat tours usually cost about $10 and include lunch.
Hike To Sok San Falls
Sok San Falls is located only about a 5-minute walk from the village of the same name. Note that if you’re here during the dry season that there won’t be any water, so no need to bother unless you’re in Koh Rong in the wet season.
Get Under The Sea & Go Snorkeling (Or Diving)
Truth be told, Koh Rong was the place that made me love snorkeling. I couldn’t believe how colorful the reefs and fish were.
Cruise Around Koh Rong On Motorbikes
For about $20 rent a scooter and cruise the island road between the beaches.
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What To Eat
This is another category where Koh Rong has changed immensely. When I visited first in 2012 you were pretty much limited to your guesthouse/bungalow (meaning there were about four options on the island).
The restaurant scene has exploded since then, and so have the prices, unfortunately. Recommended restaurants include; Eat Pray Love, Sigi’n Thai, Secret Garden Koh Rong, and Monkey Island.
What To Pack For Koh Rong
- Microfiber Towel
- Sun hat
- Bug Spray
- Dry Bag
- Standard precautions should get you by in Koh Rong, however, there is the ongoing case of the backpack that recently went missing in Koh Rong. Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Petty theft does occur from time to time, so keep valuables locked up, or just don’t bring them, at all.
- Bring a dry bag to protect cameras, phones, and electronics from the saltwater and sand.
- Sandflies are present on Koh Rong, especially on the more secluded beaches. Arm yourself with bug spray.
- There are water buffalo on the island and they do on occasion get spooked if you get too close and can charge. I know of at least one guy who was gored by one’s horns while taking a photo.
- Beware of your surroundings at beach parties and be careful of what you drink. If your drink leaves your sight dump it out.
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