If you visited the Cambodian island of Koh Rong 10 years ago, you would have had only one accommodation option. It was called Broken Heart Guesthouse and it was located on the south end of Long Beach. The rest of the island was just a couple of local fishing villages and miles and miles of undeveloped beaches and jungle.
Today, Broken Heart Guest House is no more and Koh Rong is a popular tourist destination offering a variety of accommodation options to suit your preferred vacation style. If you want to unplug from reality, you’ll find remote stretches of beach on Long Beach with very few amenities or people. And if you are looking for nightlife, you’ll find a lively area full of rowdy backpackers at Koh Touch Beach.
Another option for an island holiday in Cambodia is Koh Rong Sanloem. It’s a smaller version of Koh Rong with comparable amenities and fewer crowds. Or, if you prefer to pamper yourself with a luxurious resort and spa experience, then the private island of Koh Russey offers one of the top new hotels in the world.
But which island is perfect for your Cambodia beach holiday? Read on about the different vacation preferences offered on Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem, and Koh Russey, and how to make the most of your time depending on which one you choose!
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The Islands of Cambodia: Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem, and Koh Russey
The Cambodian Riviera Travel Basics
Know Before You Go
- The currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel (KHR) and at the time of writing, the exchange rate was 4032.26 to $1 USD. But Cambodia mainly uses US currency, just without the small change. Riels are used for anything under $1 USD and for most common transactions everyone uses the effective exchange rate of 4,000 Riels to $1 USD.
- Khmer is the official language of Cambodia and nearly 90% of the people in the country can speak it. Most people in Cambodia also speak English.
- There are no ATMs on the islands of Koh Rong or Koh Rong Sanloem, and most of the hotels and restaurants only take cash. You can get cash from several enterprising shops in town but they’ll charge you 10%. On Koh Russey, you can pay for everything by credit card.
- Getting around the islands isn’t exactly easy so you should choose accommodations that are easy to get to and be sure you take the correct ferry boat to get you where you need to go. We’ll help you with all of that below!
Getting to Sihanoukville
Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem, and Koh Russey are all islands off the coast of southern Cambodia. They are accessed by boat from the town of Sihanoukville on the mainland.
The easiest way is to fly to Sihanouk International Airport which has direct flights from Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and several international destinations, including Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, and Singapore.
Buses also travel to Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh, Kampot, and Siem Reap. If you do take the bus, we recommend Giant Ibis as they typically run on schedule, have comfortable seats, and have good air conditioning.
The last ferry out to the island departs from the pier at 3 pm. We would highly recommend that you plan your transportation ahead of time to avoid spending a night in Sihanoukville. The entire town has been under construction thanks to an influx of Chinese casinos, the accommodations may be overpriced and underwhelming, and the beaches on the nearby Cambodian islands are much nicer than the beaches in Sihanoukville.
If you absolutely must stay in Sihanoukville for one night, SS Hotel & Residence is your best bet for a hotel. It is a short drive from the pier and the rooms are reasonably spacious and comfortable. Expect to hear construction going on nearby or throughout the night. It really can’t be avoided in this area.
Koh Rong: A Remote Island Paradise
If you really want to unplug during your island vacation in Cambodia, you absolutely must stay on Long Beach on Koh Rong island! Miles and miles of white sand, so soft it’s like walking on corn meal. It is almost certainly the best beach in Cambodia.
Long Beach is accessible via ferry to Sok San Pier or motorbike ride from Koh Touch. Due to limited amenities on this side of Koh Rong island, very few tourists actually make it out this way. It’s still relatively undeveloped with only one massive resort and a few smaller bungalows.
You’ll never want to leave this tropical paradise!
Getting to Long Beach
The only real village on Long Beach is Sok San and it’s on the far north end of the beach. From Sihanoukville, you’ll want to take a ferry to Sok San Port. There are two-speed ferries that go to this pier – Island Speed Boat Cambodia, which has three ferries per day, and Buva Sea, which only has two per day.
Island Speed Boat Cambodia departs from Sihanoukville to Sok San Village at 9 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm daily. And Buva Sea departs from Sihanoukville daily at 8:30 am and 2 pm.
From the pier, you’ll need to hire a motorbike or a boat taxi to take you to your hotel. You may be able to arrange transportation with your hotel ahead of time.
Where to Stay in Long Beach
Sok San Beach Resort features quaint wooden bungalows with thatched roofs, private balconies, and the perfect beach-front setting. Guests can enjoy the restaurant and bar with views of the sea or indulge in their massage services. It’s the ideal place to relax and unplug for a few days.
Scarlet Sails Resort offers fairly simple bungalow accommodations, all with a balcony, a private bathroom, and air conditioning. The real selling point about this hotel is the one-minute walk to the beach, restaurant, and bar perfect for relaxing. It’s likely the best hotel on Koh Rong.
If you want to experience the insane nightlife on Koh Rong island, you’ll definitely want to stay on Koh Touch Beach. The nearby Police Beach has regular raves or you can join 50 of your new friends for a pub crawl where you’ll party until the wee hours of the morning.
Here you’ll find loads of 20-something backpackers, drinking beers on the beach by day and dancing in the sand all night. If you stay in the center of town, you may be kept awake late by loud music or boisterous foreigners trying to find their way home.
Getting to Koh Touch Beach
Take the ferry to Koh Touch Beach from Sihanoukville. There are currently 5-speed boat operators that take this route – Speed Ferry Cambodia (SFC), Island Speed Boat Cambodia (ISBC), and Buva Sea (BS). They all run about $14 to $25 USD per person for a roundtrip ticket. You’ll need to confirm your return ticket time on the island of Koh Rong.
Where to Stay on Koh Touch Beach
Tree House Bungalows is another hotel within a three-minute walk to the private beach that offers simple, bungalow-style accommodations. The restaurant opens daily and serves Asian, Cambodian, European, and Turkish dishes and you can enjoy drinks at the on-site bar.
Ocean View Bungalow is an incredibly unique hotel, unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. These bungalows are set up the hill from the beach with views of the sea and each one is almost entirely glass. It’s like staying in your own glass box. Beds are reasonably comfortable and rooms have air conditioning which is a lifesaver in this town!
Where to Eat on Koh Touch Beach
White Rose is a popular spot for lunch. It’s a casual restaurant with reasonably priced Cambodian and Western food options as well as delicious fruit shakes and iced coffee. Reviews aren’t great but we found the food to be good enough to patron them twice during our stay. It’s the perfect place to grab a bite while waiting to catch your ferry back to the mainland!
Enocafe is one of the best-rated restaurants on Koh Touch beach and for good reason. This authentic Italian restaurant has delicious pizzas and pasta, reasonably priced drinks, and excellent service. You’ll definitely want to check them out for dinner at least once during your trip.
If you want a break from Cambodian food and pizza, head to Bamboo Pizza. You’ll enjoy chatting with the staff and the owner, the pizza is tasty, and the mixed drinks are incredible.
And speaking of experiencing other cuisines, Big Easy Koh Rong Samloem is another good option. It is a good spot for breakfast with a very friendly staff while enjoying amazing beach views!
Where to Drink on Koh Touch Beach
If you want to enjoy live music and a chill vibe, check out Runaways’. They have comfortable chairs if you want an open-air experience. They have delicious food if you want a late-night snack.
Police Beach is west of the main touristy area of Koh Touch beach. It is known for having insane raves and other parties regularly throughout the week. You’ll see signs all over town that advertise what party is happening on what night at Police Beach. You can save a few dollars if you purchase tickets in advance.
Note: Police Beach and the pub crawl may have closed due to construction so the party scene may not be what it used to be.
Koh Rong Sanloem: Amenities Without the Crowds
Koh Rong Sanloem is a smaller island just north of Koh Rong. The beaches are just as beautiful but it is a less popular tourist destination. So you can find plenty of bars and restaurants, and also fewer crowds to contend with.
Getting to Koh Rong Sanloem
You’ll want to take the ferry to Koh Rong Sanloem from Sihanoukville. All 5 of the ferries go to this smaller island, but Speed Ferry Cambodia, Island Speed Boat Cambodia, and Buva Sea stop on the left side of the bay, while Angkor Speed Ferry and GTVC stop on the right. It’s only a 20-minute or so walk between them on the beach but if you’re carrying a heavy bag it’s probably easier to choose the one closest to your hotel.
Your hotel can also arrange transportation for you if you let them know in advance what ferry you’ll be taking.
Where to Stay on Koh Rong Sanloem
1. Tube Resort
The Tube Resort is a newer 4-star resort located on a private beach on the more remote, eastern end of the island. Rooms are completely unique and offer air conditioning which you’ll appreciate in the heat of the day. There is also a lovely pool for you to enjoy once you’ve had your fill of the pristine beach!
2. Pearl Resort
Pearl Resort is one of the nicest resorts on the island! Rooms are spacious and comfortable, offering air conditioning and a mountain or beach view. Some even have their own private plunge pool! If yours doesn’t don’t worry, the hotel also has a gorgeous infinity pool overlooking the beach!
Where to Eat on Koh Rong Sanloem
Your hotel may include breakfast with your stay but if it doesn’t, you must check out Seapony Bungalow Cafe. They have both sweet and savory breakfast offerings and you’ll definitely love their selection of healthy smoothie bowls.
Sara Restaurant is the most popular place on the island for a casual lunch while you enjoy views of the sea. They serve both Western classics and delicious Khmer cuisine. But the thing that guests rave about the most here is the super moist and delicious chocolate brownie!
If you’re tired of Cambodian food and want something different, Cita Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant serves up really tasty thin crust pizzas and savory pastas. They have good quality ingredients so you always know you’ll leave here full and happy.
Koh Russey: Private Island Luxury
If you really want to indulge yourself during your trip to Cambodia, skip Koh Rong altogether and head straight to Koh Russey (sometimes also called “Bamboo Island”). It’s southeast of Koh Rong, closer to the airport which is more convenient if you are flying into town. You won’t have to deal with visiting the grungy town of Sihanoukville to get to this Cambodian island paradise.
Koh Russey is home to the ultra-lavish Alila Villas Koh Russey. It is an amazing resort on a private beach where you will be pampered beyond your wildest imagination. If you truly want to indulge yourself during a trip to the islands of Cambodia, this is the place to do it!
Getting to Koh Russey
The Alila Villas will pick you up from their small lounge in the town of Ream, near the national park. It’s just a short drive from the airport and they can arrange a car if you need it. They have a sleek speed boat that will jet you off to the island while you sip champagne and enjoy the views of the sea.
Where to Stay on Koh Russey
Alila Villas is the only accommodation available on the Koh Russey which means that when you stay here you’ll have the entire island all to yourself! Read all about the luxurious Alila Villas Resort here.
Enjoy your vacation in the islands of Cambodia!
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