Koh Rong Cambodia
It was not long ago when the Island of Koh Rong was just another jungle in Southeast Asia with a few huts and villages. Today, Koh Rong has turned into a backpacker’s paradise, specifically the Koh Tuch Beach Strip. Koh Rong boasts some of the most beautiful, untouched white-sand beaches in all of Southeast Asia. Being one of the largest Islands in Cambodia, it is still surprisingly undeveloped, and has yet to be overrun with large hotel chains, which is a good thing as it preserves the natural beauty and local villages of the island.
Things to do in Koh Rong
There are plenty of activities to keep the average backpacker busy during their stay on the Island. From jungle hikes, to beach raves, to pub crawls, to scuba diving, you name it… it can probably be arranged for a few bucks. It’s also possible to book boat trips to nearby islands, snorkeling trips, fishing trips or take some jet skis out on the water and obviously just chill on the beach with a beer. There’s also the Highpoint Adventure Park built at the top of the Island that features different types of rope bridges and moving platforms built atop 23 different trees, don’t forget about the zipline!
Accommodation in Koh Rong
There are plenty of backpacker crash pads, basically every bar and restaurant on the main strip has cheap rooms for rent, or you could walk down the beach a bit and pay a little more for a Bungalow ($20-40). If you are on a tight budget you can probably find a bed in a dorm for $4-5 a night. As I mentioned before the infrastructure on the Island is still relatively undeveloped. It really depends on where you stay, however, there will typically be no hot water, so expect cold showers, no air conditioning, and some places will only have electricity during certain hours of the day. Most the restaurants have power outlets and somewhat stable WiFi so you can always buy a coffee and get some work done if you need to.
Life on the Island
It usually doesn’t matter what day it is or what hour it is, whether it be the locals, or tourists, there’s usually some sort of get together with karaoke and drinks or a full fledged party going on. That being said, there are still many places within walking distance to get away from all the partying and have some quiet time. As it is everywhere, there are always people that will be up to no good, so it’s important to keep your valuables locked up and secure when you can, although most of the locals have been very welcoming and kind.
There are a couple places on the main strip with working washers and dryers that charge $1 per kilo, so you can get your laundry done when you need to. As far as food goes on the Island, you can enjoy anything from local Khmer food, to cheeseburgers and even Turkish pizza! Food can range anywhere from a couple dollars for some chicken and noodles up to $10 or $12 if your looking to splurge and get a steak or something fancy.
Getting to Koh Rong
The easiest way to get to the island is to first make it to the coastal city Sihanoukville, from there you can choose between four or five different speedboat and ferry services that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to travel to the island, they should not charge more than $10 for a one-way ticket. If you miss the last boat and are determined to make it to Koh Rong you could always try hiring a fisherman to take you on a long boat, settle in because it could be up to a three hour trip!
So… Should you visit or skip the Island?
The island is definitely worth a visit in my opinion. There’s nothing like trekking through the jungle and coming out on the other side to find a beautiful untouched, empty beach. It’s probably one of the best places to get away for a week and relax in Cambodia. There are, however, a few things that did get annoying after a while… perhaps it’s because we were on the island for a full two months, but I’ll go ahead and list them
Construction never seems to stop…
I’m not sure if the locals just get bored or if they’re actually working on things, but the construction on the island is a never ending project it seems, especially on the main strip… We got used to waking up to buzzsaws, nail guns, and never ending hammering, basically right outside the window.
The bars and parties go hard…
That’s really an understatement! If you’re not looking to party a certain night and want to get to bed early, better invest in some ear plugs, unless you’ve got a nice cozy bungalow on a hill. Even then, you never know when the locals will maneuver their massive stadium speakers and throw a karaoke party. 🙂
It isn’t the cleanest place…
I’ll start off by saying as long as you practice normal hygiene you’ll be fine. This is more of a problem if you’re planning a long stay on the island, but never the less, it can still be a problem. Small cuts can get infected rather quickly and become a much bigger problem if not taken care of. Unfortunately, a few buildings along the main strip have the water from the showers/sinks running right down the beach into the ocean, so you can imagine after a while the buildup of bacteria along the beach. No worries though, there’s a medic and a pharmacy on the island!
So if you can get past those few downsides I would say you should get packing and visit Koh Rong while it’s not completely overrun by tourists and hotel chains!