Koh Rong Island, Cambodia
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*Not to be confused with “Koh Rong Sanloem” Island which are right next to each other… To avoid confusion, use the common nickname of Koh Rong which is “Monkey Island”.
IN A COCONUT SHELL
Koh Rong is an island off the coast of southern Cambodia. Koh Rong has spectacular beaches with crystal-clear water… water that rivals Fiji for some of the clearest and bluest that I’ve seen! Island life consists of reading a book in a hammock, walking the beach, lying in the sun, eating, and sleeping. There is no internet on the island so you are really forced to just enjoy the scenery and not worry about what the rest of the world is doing.
When I was on Koh Rong, the “French Survivor” show was being filmed – just more confirmation that this island is truly paradise and away from civilization!
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From Sihanoukville, it is a 2 hour boat trip and costs US$15 round-trip.
WHAT TO DO AND SEE
Hiking. Take short little walk along the beach or test your hiking skills with an extreme hike over the mountain to the amazing Long Beach of Koh Rong!
This beach has been the location for international “survivor” shows and is on the opposite side of the island from where the mainland boat drops you off. It gets its name because it is 7km long! This beach is gorgeous and a “must see” with pure white silky sand and water so clear it’s as if looking through glass!
There are only 2 options on how to get there: up and over the mountain or by boat [see below]. If you are in good shape, try the hike – but to give you fair warning, it is quite strenuous [not to mention in burning hot Cambodian sun]. The path is steep upward for quite some time and then down big boulders which requires you to hold on to rope in order to get down safely. Wear a backpack if you need to bring things because you will need both hands for this adventure! And be prepared to get a little “cut up” because there are bushes with thorn and sticks in the path. But trust me, it’s worth it!
Relax. Read a book, enjoy the beach, and eat some local food.
Local Food… just like many places in Asia, the local food here is cheap and tasty! I love the iced coffee which is strong, sweet, and, at most, only US$1!
Bars. There are a few bars on the island… by “a few” I mean about two and by “bars” I mean very low key: no shoes, right in the sand, and maybe only 5 barstools. However, there is a fairly decent sized bar down the beach called “Monkey Island Resort.” The food is a bit pricey [in comparison to other meals on the island] so eat dinner at the local places first; but if you’re interested in some entertainment and games, Monkey is the place to be.
Walking on the beach, swimming, or taking a boat around the island are the only means of transportation on the island… unless you can convince someone to give you a piggy-back…
A boat [driven by a local] costs about US$20-US$25. Try to pack up to 10 people in the boat and pay only US$2 for a boat trip from one side of the island to the other.
WHERE TO STAY
There are a few places on the island with bungalows or just a bed to rest your head. The cheapest bungalow on the island is US$20 per night but I hear they are EXTREMELY nice… On the other hand, if you’re careful with money and are doing the “backpacking” means of travel, there are other options…
Bungalows… are more expensive but are really nice and more relaxing. Take your pick from bungalows near the local food and bars, bungalows down the beach, bungalows in the hills overlooking the ocean, or bungalows perched in the trees! The ones in the trees look really fun and the resort is called “Treehouse Bungalows.”
Mango Lounge. US$10 per night and were ok with more than 2 people in a room for the same price.
Coco Bungalow Resort…
has bungalows for US$20 or cheap US$5 beds. Above the restaurant/bar, the entire floor is cleared out with about 5 mattresses on the floor with mosquito nets. With this option, you don’t have a private room and no way to lock your things [since there’s no door], but it is relaxing and very breezy since there are no walls [basically a sleeping on the roof with an extra roof over you for cover].
Locals. Go to the local restaurants and just ask if they have a room for rent… most likely, they do. Upstairs above the restaurants are fairly new rooms that start from US$5 per room. In the local places, you might need to ask more questions such as “Does the room include a lock on the door? Where is the toilet located? Can we sleep more than 2 people [if applicable]? Does the room have a fan? Does the bed of a mosquito net over it?” When you get a room in the other, more established places like Mango lounge andCoco, the previous question aren’t really an issue and they’ll answer “yes of course” to most… However, in the local places in the village, they try to make the cheapest room possible so just be extra careful.
Hammock. You might be able to get away with bringing your own hammock and setting up a place to sleep between two trees. Get a hammock with a built-in mosquito net and perhaps someway to lock the zippers so you can leave some of your things there [like a huge cocoon with your stuff inside]. The only downfall about this option is if it starts to rain…
Check out it out! Koh Rong Island in The New York Times’ Travel Section! So exciting!!