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The backpacker paradise of Koh Rong is the largest and most famous island off the coast of Cambodia. Just a short speedboat ride from the Sihanoukville port, this secluded slice of heaven is super easy for travellers to get to… the only problem you’ll face is not wanting to leave. There are lots of reasons to fall in love with Koh Rong, but if you’re trying to decide whether to commit to island life or exploring more of the mainland before your visa expires, this article should help steer you in the right direction.

Read on to discover whether a visit to Koh Rong is worth your time and how to make the most of your days there.

 

Unveiling the Hidden Charms: Discovering the Top Things to Do in Koh Rong

As you arrive at the island and pull up to the pier, don’t be fooled by the never-ending expanse of crystal-clear water and fine white sand; there’s much more than meets the eye in terms of what you can see and do in Koh Rong. Expect beach-bound activities galore from snorkelling and diving to kayaking and volleyball. And if you’re partial to a nighttime dip in the ocean, you might be lucky enough to see the mesmerizing glowing plankton; it’s most visible in a spot that’s untouched by artificial light and when there is no moon out (you can even book a boat to take you to a darker part of the ocean for around $5). 

The natural beauty of the island goes beyond the idyllic beaches. One particular path leads to a flower-filled garden which also happens to be home to a host of colourful butterflies. This magical hideaway is accessible by motorbike or bicycle if you’d prefer to ride the rocky uphill track rather than walk it. You can also embark on a trek through the Kep National Park trail to reach this picture-perfect location. Exploring the jungle is also an option for those wanting to seek out the less-trodden parts of the island; you may even stumble across a waterfall or two on your excursion. 

Photo courtesy of Talia Stanton

Island Libations: Where to Drink and Party in Koh Rong

As the sun sets the peaceful island becomes a party zone, lit up by beach bars and brought to life by live DJs and fire shows. You’ll find a plethora of weekly events and fun themed nights thrown by the island’s various hostels, the most notable being Nestival which is held once a week at Nest Beach Club. Starting off as a day party, travellers flock to the bar by late afternoon for team sports on the sand. Compete for glory as you participate in wheelbarrow races, volleyball, and drinking games before we crown the winning team. As the tournament ends there’s still plenty to look forward to including great food, DJ sets, flaming limbo and fireworks to round off a night to remember. You can also go bar hopping in the town once you’ve had your fun on the beach. 

Photo courtesy of Talia Stanton

Tantalising Tastes: Where to Eat and Delight Your Palate in Koh Rong 

Despite being on an island, rest assured you’ll have access to a wide selection of cuisines to choose from when it’s time to refuel. In Koh Toch, the main village where most travellers disembark and choose to base themselves, there are a collection of restaurants within walking distance from all accommodation on that stretch of the island spanning through to Long Set Beach. They don’t look like much from the outside, yet hold foodie treasures that will make you glad you gave them a chance. These include Sunny Turkish Fast Food, serving kebabs and juicy burgers with a reputation that reaches as far as the mainland, Casa Mia Pizzeria bringing top-notch Italian to the island, and Sandbank Restaurant for dinner overlooking the sea.  

Beachfront Bliss: Where to Stay and Unwind in Koh Rong

Get the full island experience by staying in one of the many rustic cabins that line the beach of this picture-postcard destination. Seaview cabins can in fact be found at Mad Monkey Koh Rong, one of our three Cambodian spots. Our blue and white bungalows are perfectly located on a quiet corner of the island that’s also close to the action with the best restaurants and nightlife spots nearby. There are other hostels with affordable dorm rooms such as Lost Boys and Nest Beach Club, plus a few resorts for those with a higher budget such as the beautiful Sok San Beach Resort and highly-rated White Sand Ark Restort. 

Mad Monkey Koh Rong - Standard Bungalow
Our Standard Bungalow, Photo courtesy of Mad Monkey Koh Rong

Exploring Koh Rong: Getting Around for Adventurous Travellers

As mentioned, tourists can reach the island via speedboat from Sihanoukville port, which you can get to by bus from all of Cambodia’s major cities. Boat and bus tickets are bookable in advance, so it’s best to plan a day or two ahead to secure your ticket and avoid disappointment. Be sure to keep your boat ticket for your return journey from the island. Also, if it’s the busy season it’s a good idea to check in at the pier the day before you plan on leaving to guarantee your spot on the boat and arrive there around half an hour before its scheduled departure. There are a few boats taking people back to the mainland each day; just ask for the timetable at your hotel or hostel so you’re able to make sure you have enough time to get to the pier! 

While you’re on the island, you’ll mostly be getting around by foot, from romantic walks across the beach to hiking through the greenery. Motorbike and scooter rental is also possible if you’re planning on going further afield, as well as shuttle boats running between a number of beaches that you can hop on for around $5-$7. 

Essential Tips and Things to Note for Your Koh Rong Adventure

For the best chance of a plain-sailing trip, here are a few things you should know before making your way to Cambodia’s excuse for heaven on earth… 

Tip 1: No ATMs

There are no ATMs on the island! So unless you’re confident in your ability to charm a friend or stranger into funding your stay until you can pay them back on the mainland, make sure you get enough cash out before you board the boat (including money to pay for your pre-booked accommodation).

Tip 2: Internet Issues

While most establishments on the island have wifi, internet connection can sometimes be slow or cut out completely for a brief period. There are also planned power cuts each afternoon and during the early morning before 8am. So expect to go without internet at these times and plan accordingly, if for example you are remote working and need to make the most of the internet before it shuts off.  

Tip 3: Beer = Prizes!

This tip is applicable to the whole country, and if you’re a beer drinker in Cambodia you have already caught onto it. When you buy a can of beer, especially the brands Angkor or Cambodia, you could be in with the chance of winning a prize in the form of cash or… you guessed it… more beer. Just pull off the tab of your can and check what’s printed underneath. You can then redeem these tabs at any shop that sells cans of beer, and you’ll be able to claim the prize corresponding with what the tab says. 

Tip 4: Catch the right ferry!

Next to Koh Rong, there’s an island called Koh Rong Samloem, so pay close attention when the boat announces each destination. The similarity of the two names means you could easily wind up on the wrong island if you’re not paying attention. There is also a boat that runs between the two if you want to visit Koh Rong’s smaller and even more tranquil sister island.  

More Information About Koh Rong

If Koh Rong sounds like the island of your dreams then you can get extra excited for your visit by reading more about what you can expect there in these other articles!

17 Best Things to Do in Koh Rong from Hotels.com 

Koh Rong Guide: Planning Your Trip by Greg Rodgers at TripSavvy

How to Get to, From, and Around Koh Rong from Move to Cambodia 

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This is a guest article written by Talia Stanton, view her portfolio here.

About the Author

Talia Gilliham is a vibrant and cutting-edge digital content creator and writer with a passion for hospitality.