The Top 5 Cambodian Islands – Our Personal Recommendations
Researching which island to visit in Cambodia? Well, Cambodia may not be internationally renowned for its islands unlike its neighbor, Thailand, but you’d be surprised how stunning Cambodian islands are.
From splendid, tranquil, and immaculate beaches, to islands best for partying, diving, and bird-watching, or the perfect one to give yourself some alone time, Cambodia has it all! It fact they are like the Thai Islands of yesteryear, unspoiled in the main, tranquil and just darn right fabulous, so be sure to have them on your vacation list,
Here are the Top 5 Cambodian islands that we recommend based on our experience in Cambodia, including what to do, where to stay and how to get there.
1. KOH RONG SAMLOEM ISLAND – Cambodia’s number one chill out island
When staying in Phnom Penh you often hear about the highly popular Lazy Beach, it’s on the island of Koh Rong Sanloem, and it was once the only accommodation in the island.
Today, however, a lot of developments have emerged, like the Freedom Beach Bungalows in the heart-shaped Saracen Bay, as well as Robinson’s Bungalows that are nestled in the jungle next to the beach, however I have to say that Lazy Beach continues to be the best and still my favorite place to stay in Cambodia even if its prices are still out of the reach average backpacker.
Even if you can not get to Lazy Beach, there are still a number of perfect bays and private beaches dotted around the island, and for backpackers there is the new The Mad Monkey located on its own private pristine bay away from the crowd that stay on Saracen bay.
Koh Rong Sanloem has plenty of isolated, private beaches to explore; however, most tourists will get the opportunity to lounge in a hammock with a cocktail and just melt at the view of a vivid sunset across calm waters.
THINGS TO DO: Laze around, relaxing, snorkeling, paddle-boarding, sunrise/sunset viewing, jungle treks, diving, nature
HOW TO GET THERE: Speed ferries from Sihanoukville at 9am, 11am, 3pm available at Reef Resort on the mainland.
PLACES TO STAY: Top pick for backpackers would be the new Mad Monkey Backpacker Resort, if you are a backpacker of means, then you must try a stay at Lazy beach, which is one of the best ( and one of my favorite) places in Cambodia.
Pricey $$$ Paradise Villas * recommended, Robinson’s Bungalows, Koh Rong Samloem Villas, Secret Paradise Resort
Moderate $$ Lazy Beach * recommended, Saracen Bay Resort, Sunset Bungalows, Easy Tiger Bungalows
Backpacker $ Mad Monkey Koh Rong Samloem * recommended
From Koh Rong Samloem take the $5 supply boat will leave Saracen Bay at 4pm, this takes you through the small fishing village called Bay 23(M’Pai Bai) to unload a few more supplies and then will make it’s final stop at Koh Rong around 5:30. There is no real need to go back to the mainland and then back out to Koh Rong. The trip takes about 20 minutes.
For information on Saracen bay resorts visit the Saracen Bay website, bookings for the popular Mad Monkey should be made in advance.
2. KOH RONG ISLAND – The busy party island of Cambodia
If you are in search of a paradise island with a party, then Koh Rong is the place to go. This pristine island is the second largest in Cambodia and by far the most popular among backpackers, party lovers, and nature-lovers.
Koh Rong is a stunning, 78-square-kilometre dumbbell-shaped island off the coast of Sihanoukville, with powdery white sand beaches, turquoise waters, magnificent twilight phosphorescence, and a dense jungle.
THINGS TO DO: diving, partying, snorkeling, jungle trekking, alone time,
HOW TO GET THERE: Boat, ferries from Sihanoukville available at Reef Resort
PLACES TO STAY: Top pick for us would undoubtedly be Monkey Island Resort or Vagabonds when staying on Koh Rong.
Pricey $$$ Coconut Blvd Resort – * Recommended, White Beach Bungalows, Sok San Beach Resort
Moderate $$ Paradise Bungalows. Ashïa,
Backpacker – , Monkey Island – Recommended, Vagabonds – Recommended, Sunflower Guesthouse, Green Ocean Guesthouse, Coconutbeach Bungalows
3. KOH THMEI ISLAND – Cambodia’s Island Nature Park
The almost uninhabited Koh Thmei Island is located in Ream National Park and is surrounded by mangroves. This is the perfect island if you’re in search of an island for bird-watching and to experience exotic wildlife.
The island has over 150 bird species, plus you can also spot lizards, monkeys, civets, wetland felines, fishing cat, and you can even go dolphin-watching off the coast.
The island is definitely tranquil and ecologically inspired. The only resort in the place is the Koh Thmei Resort, comprised of nine solar-powered bungalows, perfect if you cannot live without electricity, facilities can be a little basic so consider Koh Rong Samloem if you want a more comfortable stay.
THINGS TO DO: Bird-watching, snorkeling, kayaking, dolphin-watching, hiking, relaxing
HOW TO GET THERE: From Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville, take a taxi to the fishing village of Koh Kchhang, which is the closest to the island.
PLACE TO STAY: Koh Thmei Resort
4. KOH TA KIEV ISLAND – Smaller Cambodian Island
Closest to Sihanoukville’s mainland, Koh Ta Tiev is a popular and secluded small island and the most accessible. With its yellow beaches with rustic accommodations, cheap camping grounds, an absinthe and distillery bar, and a Syn Absinthe tour, this island is truly unique!
For a few dollars, you can pitch up a hammock or a tent in one of the beaches, or enjoy a variety of beach-side activities like spear-fishing and even squid-fishing. You can also spend the night in a tree-top bungalow at Ten103 Treehouse Bay.
The beautiful island with smaller but still gorgeous beaches is also home to 100 bird species, as well as the carnivorous pitcher plant. This island is set up perfectly for Camping, if that is your thing head here.
THINGS TO DO: camping, bird-watching, spear-fishing, squid-fishing, snorkeling (get a glimpse of a giant mussel)
HOW TO GET THERE: By boat, which is offered by Ten103 Treehouse Bay from Sihanoukville; boat by Syn Absinthe (for the absinthe tour); or private day boats organized by local travel agencies.
PLACES TO STAY: Ten103 Treehouse Bay (tree-top bungalows), Crusoe Island (cheap DIY accommodation; tents, mattresses, pillows). The Last Point. Coral Beach KTK
5. KOH TOTANG ISLAND – The remote untouched island
If you desire a break from everything and just get total relaxation, then Koh Totang would be the best island for you. This quiet, dolphin-shaped tropical island in the Koh S’Dach archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand is permanently inhabited by less than 10 people. You can stay in one of the five solar-powered bungalows called Nomad’s Land, where you can also take a shower from their saved rainwater.
Seriously no physical activities in the island, as it’s meant to be for complete rest and escape. You can’t even be tempted to check your Facebook or upload photos on Instagram as there is no wi-fi in the island. It’s just you, the sand, the shore, the sky, the sunset. Sit back, relax in your hammock, and bask in the island’s raw beauty.
THINGS TO DO: Relax, lie in a hammock, beachcombing, unplugging
HOW TO GET THERE: A bus from Phnom Penh or Sinahoukville to Andoung Tek, and then a mini bus. Or via taxi from Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville to Poi Yopon, where Nomad’s Land can pick you up by boat.
PLACE TO STAY: Nomad’s Land
Unplug and get to the next boat to your island of choice. And if you can’t decide which of these stunning Cambodian islands you want to visit, then island-hopping is a great option!
We hope you have enjoyed this article, please feel free to like it, share it and tweet it if you found it useful for planning your perfect Cambodian Island Vacation, also be sure to check our full backpackers travel guide to The Cambodian Islands for more useful information.