KOH RONG & KOH RONG SAMLOEM

While Sihanoukville has a rather bad reputation as a beach destination, travellers are raving about Koh Rong and mainly the much smaller Koh Rong Samloem, two islands off the coast of Sihanoukville.

Koh Rong - Sok San Beach
Sok San Beach on the west side of Koh Rong is the second nicest beach I've been to in my entire life!
(In case you wonder: The best beaches were in Cape Verde)

Truth of the matter is that it's irrelevant which island you're on, the right beach is key: While the area around Koah Touch - Koh Rong's main jetty - and Saracen Beach on Koh Rong Samloem are terrible dumpsters, Sok San Beach on Koh Rong's west side and Lazy Beach on Koh Rong Samloem are dreamy and edenic.

To get to the islands, it's advisable to get a return ticket that should not cost more than 20 $ unless you're going to Sok San Beach, then it's 25 $. When you buy your ticket, you should specifically point out where you are going. There are different companies like GTVC, Speed Ferry Cambodia and Buva Sea which I took. Since I wanted to go to Sok San Beach, I had to get off at Coconut Beach where a tuk tuk-bus was waiting for guests going to guest houses on that stretch. If your ride is not included in your ticket, you can pay the additional 5 $ on the bus.

Buva Sea ferry to Koh Rong
No clue why everybody else is making such a long face. Hey you guys, cheer up, we're on our way to beautiful islands!

Usually you can use your 20 $ round trip ticket as you please, i. e. going to Koh Rong and back or going to Koh Rong, buy another ticket (5 $ for the slow boat or 12 $ for the fast ferry) to Ko Rong Samloem and come back from there. Or the other way around: first going to Samloem, crossing with another ticket to Koh Rong and coming back from there.
These are the prices. If someone tries to tell you something else - like e. g. that the 25 $ ticket does not include the shuttle to Sok San Beach (which they tried with me) or if the shuttle driver on Koh Rong tries to charge 10 $ - don't pay it, insist on the above quoted prices.

So since Koah Touch is a dump, Sok San Beach is just beautiful: a endless stretch of white sand, one resort on the southern end, one resort and some individual huts close to the village on the northern end and a small resort in the middle, and that's where I stayed.

Koh Rong - Sok San Beach
The beach is not exactly crowded.
But look: There is actually one person in the water!

I must say that I am old and lazy and love to spend a couple of days just laying on the beach reading, taking a dip when I get too hot, slurping a cool drink, fall asleep, waking up from sweating, tottering into the ocean to cool down, continue reading and call it a day.

That's approximately everything you can do here. If you really get bored, the resort can arrange a fishing and snorkeling trip or you can take a walk to the village - just to find out that your resort is the nicest spot, anyway. But there are not jet skis, no beach parties, no craziness.

Koh Rong - Sok San Beach
There are many options to spend your day: Once you're tired laying on a sun chair, you can sit on a lounge chair.

There aren't even restaurants, you have to eat at the resort, and I really appreciate it that they are not taking advantage - the prices are just a teeny bit higher than on the main land which is normal since everything has to be brought here. They also serve drinks and so does the makeshift bar on the beach. But that's it. If you like seclusion, calmness and serenity you'll have find paradise. If you go for fun and action, don't even think about getting there.

Koh Rong - Sok San Beach
If you are a real busy body, you can rent a kayak.
Naaaah, my sun chair is just the perfect place for me.

Fun and action can be expected at the main village, Koah Touch, and here is also the island's main pier.

To  go to Samloem or back to the main land, you have to take a fisher boat for 5 $ to take you to the main pier. That this can be more than exciting when the ocean is rough is documented in the 4th chapter of my Cambodian Diary.

Koh Rong
The trip back started just fine - fifteen minutes later I was afraid to die on this fisher boat.

Anyway, you shouldn't have a too tight schedule when you are going to the islands: when the ocean is too rough, they have to leave you stranded. It's never guaranteed that you'll be able to get back to the mainland the day you've planned - always allow at least 24 hours as a time buffer before flights or already booked busses.
When you read the section on Sihanoukville, you'll see that it's not so bad to have a stopover there: Relax on Sokha beach, have dinner at Sandan restaurant and don't fret about tight connections.

There is a really good website informing on the islands and the ferries. Still I recommend you use it for your planning since they supply you with all the recent schedules, but do not book through them since they are more expensive than the tour operators in Sihanoukville.

As I'm writing about getting stuck on an island, I know exactly what it feels like since it happened to me. Therefore I've spend one day at Saracen beach on Koh Rong Samloem since the ferry left me there and there was no way to get to another part of the island. Although accommodations here are fantastically overpriced, almost everything was booked out - people were not able to leave. The beach itself was pretty dirty, but people told me that it's not always that way. Still, walking the beach only twice, I've found two syringes, an energy-saving bulb - so that the secret how mercury gets into our food chain is solved - and a large variety of other more or less dangerous trash.
Then every day large day tripper crowds - mainly Chinese tourists - are flooding this part of the island.
I've heard that Lazy Beach is really nice, but wasn't able to try it out myself since it's a 30 minutes walk from Saracen and I had to solve the big chaos due to the rough sea.

Saracen Beach Koh Rong Samloem
Not the island, the beach matters. This is a quite ugly part of much-praised Koh Rong Samloem. I didn't get to explore the nicer parts since the ocean was too rough to get there.


Sorry, I can say really good things only about Sok San Beach on the western side of Koh Rong, which is the second nicest beach location I've seen in my life - with the clearest water.

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