Koh Rong is a beautiful island in the Sihanoukville province in the south of Cambodia. It is famous for its white sand beaches, stunning corals, and dense forests.
Koh Rong has 43km of pristine beaches, all offering a different experience. You can party in the south or have the ultimate relaxation in the north.
In recent years Koh Rong has experienced rapid development particularly in Koh Touch, the pier town. Here you can find many guest houses and bars. It’s the party hub of the island popular with backpackers or those seeking a little more than sunbathing and hammocks.
The only way to get to Koh Rong, unless your rich enough to have a helicopter is by ferry.
We were travelling from Siem Reap, so flew from there to Sihanoukville with Bayon Airlines for super cheap.
We had intended to stay at night in Sihanoukville as our flight wasn’t supposed to land until 14:10 and the last fast ferry was at 15:00.
Luckily though our plane landed early and we managed to share a cab which cost $20 to the Serindipy pier with another couple.
The driver stopped by the ticket office and we grabbed two return tickets to Koh Rong for $22 each, just in the nick of time.
We made it to the boat with 5 minutes to spare.
The boat ride was fairly bumpy as the sea was choppy at this time of day, so if you are sea-sick like me I recommend raking a tablet.
Our intension was to arrive on the island, find WiFi and book somewhere to stay.
Though when we looked online we couldn’t find much. A helpful English bar man informed us that most places were not listed online. He recommended TyTy’s but said failing that our best bet was to wonder up and down until we found somewhere with availability.
At that point Beth who we had met previously came over to our table and was staying at TyTy’s with two spare beds in her room. So that was that.
TyTy’s was basic at best, it was a wooden structure with lots of gaps, but at only $5 a night we couldn’t complain.
It had comfy beds, a personal fan each and mosquito nets. The showers were cold and a bit scabby but not so bad.
We later found out we got a pretty good deal here, lots of other hostels had bed bugs and music pumping through the night.
Exploring Koh Rong
The main thing to do on Koh Rong is kick back on the beach and enjoy the stunning clear waters and we did just that.
Most of the guest houses and restaurants are situated near the pier on white beach (Koh Touch), but the best beaches can be found by walking approximately half an hour round the island.
4K beach is beautiful and the walk there despite being hot is pretty too.
We found sand bar which had sun loungers and a restaurant and planted ourselves there on numerous occasions.
They had food, chilled refreshments and always a smile.
I also recommend visiting long beach to see a peaceful 7k stretch of white-stand and shimmering blue water.
Tours of the island
There are a couple of companies offering tours of the island, Adventure Adam being one. The other company name escapes me, but you can’t miss the shop. A lot of neared stoner hippies gather here from morning to evening getting drunk with their groupies.
The tour takes you to quiet beaches, snorkelling spots, local villages and sunset view points.
Unfortunately for us, we were not able to do a tour due to getting sick (more on that later).
Helping the locals
One day on our way back from chilling at the beach we found a boat in need of help.
Usually there is a waist-high water that joins the river to the sea. But for some reason on this day there was no water.
A group of us chucked down our stuff and started to help the small group already gathered push the boat over the sand.
It was a hard task, at first we made little progress. But as the crowds grew and more bodies got behind the boat we eventually managed to push the boat into the sea.
Shortly after another boat hoping to do the same journey appeared. By this point the crowds had disappeared presumably tired after the previous efforts.
Our group stuck around and helped the local supply boat through the waters (eventually, it’s a lot harder with fewer people).
The local boat owner thanked us and told us we must come to his bar for few drinks, he wouldn’t take no for an answer so we joined him for a beer at his place.
He was so kind and grateful for our efforts and it felt lovely to help him.
We started the now dark walk back through the woods to our hostel and he saw us, and offered us a ride on his boat!
It was a pretty awesome feeling to know we had befriended a local.
Richie Rich bar crawl
Every Tuesday and Friday Richie Rich Bar crawl takes over the island. It’s $8 for a ticket which includes a vest and free shots at each bar.
Now I’m not going to lie to you, the shots are like sugary water and you can just join the crawl for free, but what the hell.
Each time the route changes but it’s a lot of fun and a good way to meet people.
Something which was sort of weird though, was that people were having a drink caused Joshua which is essentially vodka, red bull and caffeine powder…
We even met a group of people who were snorting the powder and had been up all night. It all seemed very childish and odd to me, what happened to just having a drink and a laugh with friends?
Eating on Koh Rong
The restaurant choice was limited with your only options really being on the pier.
Some of our favourites were:
CoCo – great for sitting on the beach and enjoying dinner and drinks. The pizza was amazing and the quesadillas tasty too.
Rise and shine– amazing veggie/vegan restaurant, falafel and humus were good and the breakfasts yummy.
White rose – another great breakfast spot, I enjoyed the breakfast burritos.
Getting ill on a Koh Rong
Koh Rong is a small fairly undeveloped island, this means their sewage system is not the best.
To dispose of their sewage they pump it directly into the sea just past the pier (not the 4K beach that you swim on but I’m sure the germs spread).
Now don’t get me wrong it has improved over the years, you no longer see brown waters or smell the sewage being washed up on the shore. But the bacteria and germs are still present.
Not only this but the water used in cooking, and cleaning is collected close by to were the sewage is filtered. This means the risk of illness is higher.
Stephen and I woke up one day feeling like something wasn’t right but tried not to waste the day, and so headed to the beach.
I was feeling very nauseous and faint and Stephen had bad stomach cramps. We only lasted an hour at the beach before calling it a day.
I had to stop many times during the walk back due to feeling unwell. In the end I made it back to the hostel toilet with seconds to spare before I projectile vomited. Soz about me.
We laid in bed, in and out of sleep between visits to the toilet from 1pm until 10am the next day. It wasn’t pretty.
Sadly it wasn’t just us! We met tens of people on the island who had also had this experience which is a shame.
Koh Rong is a stunning island. The white sand beaches and crystal clear waters make it an ideal place to chill out.
Accommodation unless in swanky resorts is hard to book in advance and your best off just turning up.
The Richie Rich bar crawl is fun but does seem to attract some immature backpackers.
There are limited food options but plenty to fill you up.
The chances of you feeling unwell while here is pretty high but if it helps, I’d take the risk again.