Koh Rong Samloem, have you heard about such a place? When we first started to think about traveling to Cambodia we already knew, that there are some good beaches somewhere. We had heard about a city called Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s most popular beach destination, and beaches around it.
But at the same time most of people, who had been there, were telling us how busy this place is.
What we didn’t know then was that there are some nice islands in Cambodia as well. Just a short ferry ride away from Sihanoukville there are two beautiful islands – Koh Rong (bigger and more popular one) and Kog Rong Samloem (smaller and less visited), and these aren’t the only ones.
After receiving a recommendation from a friend, currently living in Cambodia, we went to Koh Rong Samloem. And we weren’t disappointed.
Basic things about Koh Rong Samloem
Koh Rong Samloem is a small island, about 9 kilometers long and 4 kilometers wide. There are no roads on the island. There are no any motorized vehicles on the island. Only occasional boats are passing by. In most of hotels, beach huts, restaurants and bars electricity is available only during specific hours.
Not all mobile operators have a coverage on the island. At the same time – WiFi is available in quite a lot of restaurants, bars and hotels.
One thing that we liked most – there aren’t too many people. In the middle of May, when it’s kind of off-season in Cambodia, there were only like 200 other people. PERFECT! One bartender told me, if you have a choice, then don’t come to Koh Rong Samloem during Chinese New Year, which is at the end of January / start of February, because then there are really a lot of people.
However, as there are no any large hotels, mostly beach bungalows, I think it should be fine more or less all the time.
Prices on Koh Rong Samloem
Most of the dishes in restaurants on Koh Rong Samloem cost about 4-8$, soft drinks and bear – about 1-2$, water (1,5 l) – 1,5$, but refill is possible if you come with your bottle, and then it’s about 0,5 – 0,75$ for 1,5 l, alcoholic cocktails – about 5$.
Dorm bed costs 5-10$, beach bungalows – starting from 15$.
There are no ATM’s, so take enough cash with you and count in that food and accommodation here is more expensive than on a mainland.
Getting to Koh Rong Samloem
You can get to Koh Rong Samloem by fast boat (20$ for return ticket) or slow boat (15$ for return ticket). Boats are going from Sihanoukville, Serendipity Beach Pier. Taking a fast boat journey will be less than 1 hour long, taking a slow boat – about 2 hours long.
Activities on the island
What you can do on the island – swimming, snorkeling, chilling on the beach or in the beach bars. Stand up paddle (SUP) boards, snorkeling equipment and kayaks are available for rent on the island.
Accomodation on Koh Rong Samloem
All 4 days, that we spent on the island, we stayed at The Beach Island Resort. We chose a double bed in dormitory room, and it turned out to be a good value for money. For 12$ a day we had a huge and comfy double bed with mosquito net and locker. Bedding and towels were clean and good quality. And the place was right on the beach.
Not a bad deal for the island, where everything costs more than in other places in Cambodia, isn’t it?
As I mentioned earlier, Koh Rong Samloem is a small island. Thus choice of the accommodation isn’t wide. Most popular here are beach bungalows, from simple ones to really cool. And most of the hotels, hostels and beach bungalows are situated right on the beach – three-kilometer long white sand beach – in Saracena bay.
Few are in other places. And some of them are not reachable by foot.
So better book in advance at least for the first day. Or look at the options available, choose few and read where they are located, to know where to get out of the ferry.
Snorkeling on Koh Rong Samloem (and our last evening adventure…)
It is possible to go on a snorkeling tour to another places. But it’s also possible to go snorkeling on your own right on the Koh Ronh Samloem. As we like to have at least few hours of time for snorkeling alone we chose to go on our own.
If you don’t have a snorkeling equipment you can rent it at the restaurant/dive shop at the Lazy Beach. It’s sometimes called a sunset beach as it’s on the Western coast of the island, accessible by a walking path going across the island. In Saracena bay path starts at the Octopussy Bar, and at this part of the island it’s just a 1,5 kilometers long walk through jungle.
Two really good places for snorkeling at Koh Rong Samloem are both ends of the Lazy Beach.
In may 2016 we paid only 2$ for a set of mask, snorkel and fins for a whole day. However you need to pay a 50$ deposit to get this equipment. As we didn’t have that much cash with us, we left our GoPro camera as a deposit. So no photos from the underwater world.
But trust us – on a sunny day snorkeling here is great! Better than we had on 4 island tour near Krabi, Thailand. Especially on the right side of the Lazy beach, along the rocks.
But do plan accordingly to return back to Saracena bay before it gets dark!
As there are no any lights along the path and it goes through the jungle.
We forgot about it once. And it turned into an adventure. Pretty scary adventure.
It was our last evening at Koh Rong Samloem island. We went to the Lazy Beach to swim and to eat a dinner there, while watching a sunset. Initially we planned to return to the other side of the island right after the sunset, when it’s still isn’t completely dark.
Time flew by fast, and when the sun was already setting we were still swimming. And when we went out of the sea sun was already set. But anyway we decided to eat dinner there. Only later did we understand, that moon isn’t visible tonight. So there will be complete darkness in the jungle and we don’t have even a phone to use as a torch.
We finished a dinner. Food was great. And then we started our walk back.
It was dark, but we could see where we were going. Until we reached the jungle, and there it was as we thought it will be – COMPLETELY DARK. But we needed to walk a little bit more than 1 kilometer through it, and we knew that path wasn’t all straight.
What to do? What to do? What to do?
Oh, we have a camera. Let’s try if it can be used as a torch! Oh, yes, it works. But we will need to walk fast, because I’m not sure how long it will work as it’s been quite a long since I charged it.
We walked fast. Then we decided to walk faster. And once we were about 1/3 of the way through camera turned off… Leaving us in a complete darkness of the jungle. Oooouch!
Luckily it wasn’t because battery was empty. And I could turn it on again just a mere seconds later. The same happened two more times. Every time it happened we started to move even faster. At the end making it our fastest crossing of the Koh Rong Samloem.
So, yes, don’t forget about it! And take at least a phone or better torch with you!
Have you been to Koh Rong Samloem? Or to Koh Rong? How did you like it? For us it’s now our favorite island.
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they are traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On WeAreFromLatvia.com they share their experience and things learned along the way.