There are a few things to know before you go to Koh Rong, which will have an important impact on how much you enjoy your time there. While most of these issues are pretty minor, others can be the difference between an unforgettable time in this amazing Cambodia paradise or a regrettable time far from comfort and familiarity.
The important thing to remember is that Koh Rong is relatively undeveloped. While this is the feature it is most loved for, it can be a double-edged sword. It means that many of the conveniences of well-established beach destinations like Sihanoukville, Bali or Phuket will not be available. You have to be a little more careful about what you bring with you, including bringing the right mentality for such an idyllic tropical island.
Choose the right island
It's very easy to get confused between Koh Rong and the nearby Koh Rong Sanloem. Both are very beautiful, with outstanding beaches and lovely resorts available, but they each offer a very different atmosphere. If you want to hang out with the backpacker crowd and spend your nights partying, the main island of Koh Rong is for you, especially in or around Koh Tui Village.
If you’re looking for peace, relaxation, great snorkelling and diving and quiet nights, you should stay on Koh Rong Sanloem. It should be noted that the differences can also be quite distinct from beach to beach, as well as between the 2 main islands. So, it’s best to check the location of your hotel very carefully.
Bring plenty of cash
Prices for pretty much everything on Koh Rong are very low, so a little money can go quite a long way. But what happens if it doesn’t quite go far enough? Well, then you have a problem because there is only one ATM on the island, in Koh Tui Village. With the growing popularity of Koh Rong, the chances are pretty good that it will be empty or broken when you need it most.
Some bars and hotels will let you settle your bill on the mainland or will give you a loan while using your passport as collateral, but these are far from ideal solutions. It's much better to bring more money than you need, though be careful to store it safely and securely.
Bring your essentials
As with ATMs, shops are in pretty short supply on Koh Rong. There are a few convenience stores in the main tourist hubs, selling basic supplies like sun cream and shampoo, but they are obviously very limited in the brands and types they stock.
The safest option is to bring all of your essentials with you, particularly if your needs are quite specific. At the very least, you should plan to stock up in Sihanoukville, before boarding the ferry.
If you can’t picture spending a full day without Facebook, you should be prepared for just how much of a “getaway” Koh Rong is. The island is known for its desert island vibe, allowing you to get far from the stresses of modern life, and that includes getting away from the web. Hotels there have only recently managed to get reliable internet connections, so be prepared for very patchy and slow Wi-Fi and little to no data roaming.
If your family and friends are expecting you to keep in regular contact during your travels, you'll need to warn them in advance that this might not be possible while you're on Koh Rong. It also means that you need to do all of your travel research in advance, including printing off maps for any attractions you plan on visiting.
Time is 'meaningless' here
The castaway feeling on Koh Rong not only means that you leave the conveniences of the modern world behind but also any hope of measuring time. It is alarmingly easy for a couple of days on Koh Rong to become a couple of months – the blissful peace is extremely addictive.
The island already has quite a substantial expatriate community, which explains the surprisingly large number of western restaurants, particularly around the resort hubs. You may find that you have to really force yourself to board the ferry back to civilisation. Also, don’t expect anything to run on strict schedules – life just doesn’t work like that here.
Medical facilities are poor
It's important to note that medical facilities are extremely limited on Koh Rong. A group of expats have opened Koh Rong Emergency Services, based in Koh Tui Village, which offers free basic treatments to tourists and locals. They can also stabilise those with more serious issues before ferrying them to Sihanoukville for proper treatment.
Other than that, you can find a very limited supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications in a few small pharmacies, mostly also in Koh Tui. If possible, you should bring any essential drugs and maybe even a basic first aid kit with you.
Getting to Koh Rong
When it comes to getting to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem, virtually the only option is to go by boat. There is no bridge or airport on either island. If you want to really splash out, you could take a helicopter, but tickets from Phnom Penh Airport start at about US$4,500++.
For those travelling directly to Koh Rong from overseas, the nearest airport is Sihanoukville International Airport (KOS). You will then need to get to either the ferry terminal at Serendipity Pier or Sihanoukville Port. Before you book a boat ticket, it's important to know exactly where you are going – arriving at the wrong pier could mean either an expensive long-tail boat ride or a long overland trek to reach your resort.
Boats to Koh Rong
There is a number of regular services from Sihanoukville to Koh Tui Village (though the schedule often changes).
Speed Ferry Cambodia uses 125-seat catamarans, which cover the journey from Serendipity Pier to Koh Tui Village in about 45-90 minutes, depending on whether or not they also stop at Koh Rong Sanloem on the way. They sail 3 times daily and an open return ticket costs about US$21.
Buva Sea Ferry operates 50-seat speed ferries from Serendipity Pier and sails to Koh Tui, Long Set Beach, Sok San Beach and other piers around Koh Rong. There are 7 daily sailings and tickets are from about US$22.
GTVC offers the cheapest service, with return tickets costing about US$13. But they sail from Sihanoukville Port which is more inconvenient to get to and stop only at Koh Tui. They do offer a hotel pick-up service for guests staying in Sihanoukville, which helps. They set sail 4 times per day.
Island Speed Ferry Cambodia is sometimes referred to as Cambodia Island Speed Ferry, Island Speed Boat Cambodia, or TBC. They have only two boats – a brand new 150-seater, with air conditioning, and an older one without climate control. Both take about 90 minutes to make the journey to Koh Tui because they make 2 stops on Koh Rong Sanloem, with return tickets costing about US$22. There are 3 sailings per day and, like GTVC, they depart from Sihanoukville Port, with hotel pick-ups available.
The bright yellow supply boats take locals and cargo from the mainland to the Koh Rong islands, but visitors are welcome to use them, too. Comfort and even life jackets are far from guaranteed, the boat takes about 2 hours (3 if the weather is bad) and it departs from the New Royal Pier of Sihanoukville Port, with only 1 sailing per day. However, a 1-way ticket costs just US$5.
Some boats from the mainland operate to other small piers around both Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem, but the schedules change on quite a regular basis. If you are staying at a resort away from Koh Tui, it is best to contact the resort directly to get the best and most up to date information on ticket prices and how to get there.
Walking around Koh Rong
There are currently absolutely no roads on Koh Rong – only well-worn trails through the dense jungle terrain. As such, trekking isn’t so much a pastime as it is the only way of getting around the island over land. Fortunately, most of the resort areas and villages are compact and simple to navigate, and a lot of the key points of interest are close together with few obstacles in your way.
If you wish to go to more remote parts of Koh Rong, note that there are no good maps of the available routes and there is no internet available for checking online. It's therefore essential to have either a guide or a compass and a good sense of direction. Be sure to take plenty of water with you as long jungle hikes can get very hot and sweaty.
Boats around Koh Rong
The much easier and safer alternative to long hikes is to hire a long-tail boat to take you from one beach to the next. You'll have to negotiate the price with the boat owner, with prices varying depending on the distance you want to go.
Approximate prices include:
Koh Tui Beach to Sok San Beach: US$5-20 per person
Koh Tui Beach to Long Set Beach: from US$15 per person
Koh Tui Beach to Lonely Beach: from US$60
WEATHER IN KOK RONG ISLAND
The weather in Koh Rong is typical of the tropical climate shared by this part of Southeast Asia with 2 distinct seasons. The high season typically sees clear skies and calm seas while the rainy season is generally the mirror opposite. It should be noted that rainy days during the high season, while extremely rare, are not unheard of. By contrast, dry days during the rainy season are comparatively common.
The temperature in Koh Rong is pretty good all year round, averaging above 25°C even at the coldest time of year. In contrast, the humidity does alter a lot over the course of the year, being highest in April and May and lowest in December and January. Being pretty close to the equator, the length of days does not change too much between the wet and dry seasons.
Best time to go to Koh Rong
The high season in Koh Rong lasts from mid-November to the early May, but the absolute best time to visit Koh Rong is between December and February. This is the peak season for arrivals, so expect fuller hotels and busier beaches over this period.
Even so, the weather is at its best and most reliably sunny at this time, with the least rainfall (generally fewer than 5 wet days) and comfortable temperatures (at about 25°C).
Hottest time in Koh Rong
The hottest time of the year in Koh Rong is usually between March and May. Average temperatures go up to as much as 35°C, with the increased humidity probably playing a role in raising the otherwise quite stable temperatures of the area. The weather is still generally good at this time, with rainfall fairly infrequent and short-lived.
Low season in Koh Rong
The green season in Koh Rong usually lasts from the middle of May to the start of November and, while there are still plenty of nice and dry days throughout this period, the risk of rain is much higher.
From May to July, there's an average of 15 rainy days per month, making the odds of having a good or bad day practically even. The odds become increasingly poor up until October, which is the wettest month by quite a large margin, with as much as two-thirds of the month seeing rainfall.
Rain in Koh Rong tends to be much like it is in other tropical destinations in the area – short but heavy downpours, usually at night. With significantly rougher seas in the low season, diving, snorkelling and even just swimming in the sea all become at best impractical. As the number of visitors to the island is significantly lower at this time, you can get some fantastic bargains on accommodation – if you’re willing to risk the rain.
Over the past year many new attractions and activities have opened up on Koh Rong. Below, we are going to summarise the best things to see and do on the beautiful island – From snorkelling / scuba diving with the exotic marine life, to watching mesmerising sunsets and seeing glowing plankton, to paddle boarding, kayaking, windsurfing, jet skiing, and more.
Snorkelling & Scuba Diving
Koh Rong is home to some of the most exquisite marine life, so Snorkelling and Scuba Diving is a very popular activity (please speak to the Koh Rong Dive Center on Koh Touch or Reef Dive Resort on Long Set Beach).
On Koh Touch, several places organise snorkelling trips where they take you to good locations around the island. This is your best way to see some of the wonderful miniature eco-systems, coral, seahorses, and nudibranches that are abundant on the islands. Take a look at this video to see some of the beautiful wildlife on the island:
Booking a trip is very straight forward – You’ll see them advertised on the main beach. A typical snorkelling trip will also include fishing, seeing the glowing plankton, BBQs, and sunsets. They tend to cost around $10 and are from 1pm – 7pm.
If you want to splash out a little bit more (around $70 for the trip), we recommend hiring a private long boat to take you further north towards Pineapple Island (you can also take a trip around the whole of Koh Rong this way).
Around here there are some fantastic pristine beaches with superb snorkelling locations, and if you like, you can stop several times to try the local Khmer fishing techniques (using only a plastic bottle and some fishing wire).
Sparkling like a starry sky all around you, Koh Rong’s bioluminescent plankton are a wonderful sight to behold at night times. (Learn why they glow on Wikipedia)
Although this phenomenon is abundant on the islands, the glowing plankton can only be seen in places with very little light pollution.
As such, if you’re staying on Koh Touch the easiest way for you to see the plankton is by booking a boat tour (you can also walk to Police Beach on non-party nights (15 minutes left from the main pier) and Tree House Bungalows (15 minutes right from the main pier), or make your way to Long Set Beach around the corner from Koh Touch).
Booking a tour is very easy (they are advertised along the beach) and a trip to see the plankton will cost about $5 (leaving at 7pm). You can also see the plankton during a boat trip (see above).
In case you’re a sunset enthusiast (who isn’t!?), the best sunsets are generally to be found on the western and northern sides of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem.
Some great locations include: Sok San Beach Resort, The Royal Sands, and Lonely Beach on Koh Rong, and M’Pay Bay, Lazy Beach, and Sunset Beach on Koh Rong Samloem.
Koh Rong is a very big island – If you’d like to see some of the other stunning locations (and there are many), we recommend for you to take an island tour.
The tour will take up a whole day, but some of the views are truly spectacular – From pristine untouched beaches, to wonderful little-known resorts, to world-renowned private islands and little fishing villages. Take a look at this video to see all of the areas on Koh Rong:
You can hire a tour boat quite easily on Koh Touch – You’ll see them advertised everywhere along the beach. A long boat can take up to 10 people or so, and you’ll be looking at paying roughly $100 between you for the whole day (try to set off early so that you can see all the sights before it starts to get dark).
One great thing about island tours is that you can stop anywhere along the way and choose how long you’d like to spend at each location. You can even go to all the best snorkelling areas or stop on desert islands (check out Pineapple Island).
For some fast paced action on the beautiful clear waters, you can hire a Jetski at either KM Watersports (located by Monkey Island Resort) or at Golden Bungalows. Prices tend to vary depending on the season (and sometimes on the demand on the day) so you could be looking at paying $150 for 1 hour of fun. Please be careful of people snorkelling or diving!
Further out away from the main swimming areas there can be a bit of wind, which is great for activities like windsurfing. Whether you’re an expert or a beginner, you can learn or rent windsurfing with Rong Wind (at Reef on the Beach – Long Set Beach).
On a nice day the water can be calm with very little waves – ideal for a little adventure! You can Kayak to a small island for snorkelling or to the Mangrove River on Long Set (4K) Beach. The cost for rental is about $5 per hour or $12 per day.
If the adventure above sounds like just too much work, take advantage of the beautiful calm waters with some gentle paddle boarding. A few places rent paddle boards on Koh Touch – Just ask someone on the main beach when you’re there (you can also rent them at Rong Wind above).
High Point Zip Line and Rope Park
The High Point Zip Line and Rope Park is an obstacle course up among the trees. To quote the founder, it is a sort of ‘jungle gym’ for those who want to see wonderful jungle scenery while having some active fun.
20 ropes hang between the trees, each one presenting a different challenge. For example, one is a tightrope and one is a horizontal ladder.
Now and then throughout the course you’re rewarded for your hard work with ‘easier’ activities: Two zip-line courses and a swing and barrel that fly between the trees at heights of up to 24 metres.
To find the High Rope Park head left off the main pier towards Police Beach – You’ll see signs advertising it. The cost of the course is roughly $25 in low season and $35 in high season.
The Royal Group have built a road connecting their fabulous Royal Sands Resort to Koh Touch, so you can now get to Long Beach from Koh Touch by bicycle.
This makes for a fantastic day trip, as you can sit and relax on the soft white sandy beaches with very few people around you.
If you’re up for trying something very different and exciting, there is a Blob Jump at Tree house Bungalows.
In case this is something you’ve never tried – You jump from a height of 4-6 metres onto a giant blow up ‘blob’. You’ll then move to the opposite end and a friend will bounce you back up into the air and into the water beneath. This exhilarating experience will cost about $3 per go.
Walk to Long Set (4K) Beach
If you’re a fan of sightseeing, there is a fantastic walk on the island. The walk we have in mind is on Long Set (4K) Beach, towards Pura Vita and Long Set Resort, heading right as you get off the ferry on the main pier of Koh Touch.
Now, in general, if you are looking for a quieter holiday on Koh Rong, there are some fantastic resorts on this part of Koh Touch (we recommend White Beach Bungalows and Tree House Resort, as well as Paradise Bungalows). However, even if you choose not to stay here, you should definitely try to see this area during your stay, as the beach is in a great condition and the ocean waters are fantastic.
If you head past Paradise Bungalows and White Beach Bungalows on your left hand side, the next resort is Tree House. Keep walking following the beach area around and you’ll pass Star Fish Resort. At times you will need to go off the actual beach itself into the forest, but the path is very easy to follow. After about 15 minutes you will walk out onto a large beach expanse (about 4km or so) with relatively little development.
Koh Rong's dining scene is pretty modest. A lot of the island's popular restaurants are little more than beach shacks. Even so, there are excellent stand-out eateries, particularly around Koh Tui Village, where you can enjoy high-quality local and European cuisine at very reasonable prices.
If you’re looking for a romantic dining experience, what could possibly beat enjoying a meal right on a white-sand beach? Here are selections of Koh Rong restaurants, each of which has something unique to offer.
The best restaurants in Koh Rong offer surprisingly high quality on what is essentially a desert island off the coast of Cambodia. Most of the places on our list have a rather rustic beach shack look from the outside, but with the talents of excellent local and international chefs in their kitchens, they deliver great tastes at affordable prices.
The majority of the most popular Koh Rong restaurants are on Tui Beach, though there are generally several options on most of the island’s many beaches, even if it’s just the kitchen for whatever guesthouses and beach bungalows are there. The following are top picks, serving the finest food in the most enjoyable settings available, all with friendly Cambodian service.
Da Matti? Italian Restaurant & Reggae Bar
Da Matti? (the question mark is part of the name) is a slightly odd mix of Italian restaurant and reggae bar. A long-established venue on one of Koh Tui’s 3 piers, it was previously known as La Mami. The Italian influences here include excellent gnocchi, arguably the best pasta on Koh Rong and the romantic candlelit table settings along the pier.
The reggae theme is evident from the vivid colour scheme, good selection of cocktails, the floor cushions and low tables further down the pier and the easy-going flexible music policy.
Location: Ko Tui 3rd Pier, Koh Tui Village, Koh Rong, Cambodia
Phone: +855 10 245 712
A guesthouse and bakery, Koh Lanta is said to serve the best pizzas in Koh Rong, cooked in an eco-friendly oven. The burgers are also pretty good and the quality of the ice cream is impressive.
Open 24 hours, the service is excellent and the parasol-shaded seating in front, on the beach, makes it a great place to enjoy a snack on a hot day. The venue’s name is inspired by the French Survivor reality TV show.
Location: Tui Beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia
Phone: +855 93 292 929
Sunrise Restaurant and Massage
As the name suggests, Sunrise Restaurant is on an east-facing beach – Coconut Beach – with comfortable red clam-shell seating and excellent food. As a bonus, you can also get a great beach massage.
The restaurant’s veggie burgers are highly recommended. The atmosphere is friendly and the place has a nice, chilled out vibe, making it a great place to hang out throughout the day.
Location: Coconut Beach, Koh Rong 18000, Cambodia
Open: Daily from 7.30am to 11pm
Phone: +855 96 273 6802
Eat Pray Love
Situated between the 2 piers at the northern end of Southwestern Beach, Eat Pray Love serves excellent Italian food. There are excellent pizzas and fresh-made gnocchi, prepared with high-quality local and imported ingredients by Italian chefs for genuine taste.
The open-air upstairs dining area is the best place to enjoy the sunset from. Note that the owners often go for breaks, so it's best to call if they're open prior to your visit.
Location: Sok San Village, Koh Rong, Cambodia
Open: Daily from midday to midnight
Phone: +855 11 454 051
The Moon Restaurant
The Moon is one of the nicest local beachfront restaurants on Koh Rong. The restaurant has quite a classy interior, by beach shack standards. It has friendly owners, a great location near Sok San Village, impressive wine and cocktail lists and a menu of Khmer and Thai dishes.
The most popular dishes are mostly the standard favourites of those 2 cuisines, including fish amok, pad Thai and papaya salad. Prices are low and the atmosphere and views are also very pleasant.
Location: Sok San Beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia
Open: Daily from 8am to 10pm
Phone: +855 11 558 660
The best nightlife in Koh Rong consists mostly of backpacker and hippie bars in Koh Tui Village. Few of the other beaches have much of a nightlife scene, but the range available in the island’s main port is increasingly varied and interesting, with great views, cheap drinks, lively parties and relaxing vibes. For now, there aren’t too many places to go for dancing – the vibe is much too chilled out for that kind of effort!
It's worth mentioning that there's a regularly organised pub crawl around the most popular nightlife in Koh Rong. Setting off from Monkey Island or Skybar at 8pm every Thursday and Sunday, tickets cost about US$8 in advance or US$10 on the day, and you get a free T-shirt and shots. However, with drink prices universally pretty low and with the small size of Koh Tui Village making it virtually impossible to get lost, you can quite easily have a self-guided crawl based on our suggestions below.
Dragon Den Pub
Dragon Den is what you might call Koh Rong’s first proper “bar”. While the majority of venues simply offer somewhere to enjoy cold and cheap beers in some degree of comfort, the drinks menu here is much longer, boasting imported wheat beers and even their own microbrews.
The prices are still pretty reasonable, with draught Five Men Fresh Beer from Sihanoukville available for just about US$1. You can find Dragon Den near the ferry terminal of Koh Tui Village.
Location: Koh Rong, Cambodia
Open: Daily from 9.30am to 11pm
Phone: +855 96 778 9902
Police Beach Party Zone
Police Beach is the nearest thing to Thailand’s famous Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan’s Haad Rin Beach, with the added bonus that the party is twice a week instead of once a month.
The beach is just a short walk along the coast from Koh Tui Village, with entrance from about US$5 in advance or US$7.50 at the door (though prices are prone to rising during busy periods). The atmosphere and size of the party make it similar to what Koh Phangan was like when the parties there first got started, being much safer and more relaxed.
Location: Police Beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia
Open: Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10pm to 8am
Phone: +855 18 993 3300
Nest Beach Club
Virtually the only lively bar on the otherwise peaceful Long Set Beach, Nest Beach Club offers stunning views and happy hour specials on cocktails from 6pm to 9pm. The chillout music and cool setting make it a nice place for a relaxing evening.
The club hosts occasional special parties, which are a bit more upbeat and lively, featuring free beer, free shots, live DJs and a hog roast, among other entertainments, generally for the low entry cost of about US$4.
Location: Long Set Beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia
Open: Daily from 9am to midnight
Phone: +855 96 634 2320
Right at the back of Koh Tui Village and up quite a steep set of stone steps, Skybar really deserves its name as it's pretty high up. The challenge of the climb is rewarded with a fantastic view over the village and across the beautiful clear seas towards Koh Rong Sanloem.
The bar has a different drinks deal every night as well as a happy hour from 6pm every evening, making it a fun and varied sort of place to go after sunset on Koh Rong.
Location: Koh Tui Village, Koh Rong, Cambodia
Open: Daily from 8am to 2am
Phone: +855 98 990 088
Despite the name, Monkey Island is not actually on a different landmass, but is about 200 metres along the coast from Koh Tui Village. A well-established name in Koh Rong’s nightlife, this well-stocked and cheap bar has 2-for-1 happy hour deals on cocktails from 4pm to 5pm.
The relaxed atmosphere and beachside hammocks make it a popular place for an early tipple and a good starting point for a night out. However, the place is usually closed by midnight, at which point party-goers tend to head towards the village.
Location: Koh Tui Beach, Koh Rong, Cambodia
Phone: +855 81 830 991