Beaches in Cambodia – what to expect and when to go
1. Koh Rong, Lazy Beach – Take it slow
Lazy Beach is aptly named as such. Several bars, backpackers and resorts offer the most laid-back of atmospheres to tourists looking to do very little for a little. Whether you are kicking back on one of the many beach sofas, hammocks or sundecks, it is difficult to not feel like you are slowly sliding further and further into your seat. The beach is a great combination of seclusion and entertainment. Grab some food at the beach bars and catch the sunset with a drink in your hand and the sand between your toes.
Getting to Lazy Beach is pretty easy. Speed ferries leave at 9.00, 11.00 and 3.00 from the Serendipity Pier in Sihanoukville and will take you to Sacaren Bay on Koh Rong. From here, you'll take another short boat to Lazy Beach. The trip shouldn’t set you back more than KHR 60,000.
2. Koh Tonsay – Authentic Cambodia
If you’re a fan of towering palm trees, cheap seafood, authentic exposure to locals, and a good bit of Karaoke, then Koh Tonsay is the island for you. The beach is incredibly beautiful. It is lined with hundreds of picture perfect palm trees, many of them with hammocks for you to kick back in. The sand is dotted with lazy chairs and small seafood restaurants. No motor vehicles, hours with no electricity and but a handful of locals all equates to sleepy descent into the quiet. The island’s beach and atmosphere make for a great few hours, but an even better few days.
A short boat ride (less than thirty minutes) will cost around KHR 30,000 and will have you reaping the benefits of this experience.
3. Koh Thmei – Calling nature lovers
Koh Thmei beach is for the nature lovers amongst us. Koh Thmei is just off the Ream National Park, teaming with the same wildlife the park is renowned for. The beach and island is near deserted. But, this does not mean that there is nothing to do. There are opportunities to snorkel and dive at sites right off the island. Even more cool, when you consider the general lack of beaches like such in Southeast Asia, is the surfing that you can do! The waves are serious though, so pack your courage. The island has no Wi-Fi and no electricity after 11pm, which leaves very little to distract you from the incredible surrounds. The stars shine bright at night and make for one special opportunity to grab some snaps of the Milky Way.
Getting to the island requires a short boat trip from the mainland. The trip is around 3km and shouldn’t cost more than KHR 70,000.
4. Coral Beach – Short term stay
Coral Beach seems like the perfect beach to plan your holiday around when you have but a few days at your disposal. The beach is located on Koh Ta Kiev, an island near the Ream National Park. The beach is stunning, long and perfectly tropical. There are several beach resorts that can provide the perfect base from which to thrust yourself into the scarcely valuable moments of your holiday. The resorts by the beach can ensure that you are very comfortable with beach chairs, drinks and food no further from your reach than the thought of them. Hours of the day can also filled with adventurous activities like cliff-diving or spearfishing, which is pretty darn cool.
5. Victory Beach – For everyone
Victory Beach was one of the original hubs of Sihanoukville. The beach was, and still is to some degree, a popular backpacker hangout. The north end of the beach is well accommodated for families and those not looking to go too far for a day at the beach. Good restaurants, many shady spots under overhanging palm trees, and a central location makes this a great beach to visit at the drop of a hat. Getting to the beach is easy. Take the direct narrow road down from Victory Hill, or head along the scenic coast until you arrive, making your way past Ochheuteal, Sokha and Independence Beach.
6. Koh Pos – An easy escape
Koh Pos couldn’t make an island escape any easier. Make you way across the Techo Morakat Bridge and welcome the paradise vibes. The island and beach is really simple, but it is its amazing accessibility that puts it onto this list. Fill your stomach to the brim with some of the best seafood in Cambodia and head off for a quiet stroll along the beach. Whether your aim is to find them or stay out of their way, keep a look out for snakes and monkeys!
7. Sokha Beach – Serenity and beauty
Sokha Beach is one of the quieter beaches in Sihanoukville. Being privately owned, you'll need to pay an entrance fee to spend the day there. This shouldn't deter you though, as the beach is quite fantastic and may just be the most picturesque of the bunch. Photographers and those looking to curate the perfect image for their Instagram feed shouldn't think twice. There is some great snorkelling to be done just off the beach, as well as some good seafood joints to fill up on afterwards. If the snorkelling and sun tanning aren’t enough, there is a great hike that takes you between Serendipity Beach and Sokha Beach, and it goes right along the coast to offer remarkable views.
8. Otres Beach – Activates and food
If want to escape the hustle and bustle of Serendipity and Ochheuteal in Sihanoukville, Otres Beach is a great alternative. It is just south of the more popular coastal spots in Sihanoukville, but it is less crowded, a little quieter and a lot more relaxed. There is a row of bars and accommodation options before you reach a long stretch of beautiful shoreline. Otres Beach is great for soaking up the outdoors, and activities include kayaking and windsurfing. On Saturday nights, Otres Market is the place to be. The market is home to food stall and live music that carries on until the early hours of Sunday morning.
9. Serendipity Beach – Cheap, busy and beautiful
At the rocky end of Ochheuteal Beach is the trendy Serendipity Beach. Worthy of an appearance in an in-flight magazine, the beach is a picture that should be named ‘Holidaying right’. There are several bars and resorts that have seating just meters away from the tumbling of waves and the shadows of nearby fishing boats. While it is not the cleanest, quietest or most relaxing beach, the drink and food specials, a tangible vibe, and the collection of other backpackers draw in the young and restless.
10. Koh Totang Island – Off the grid
Of course, in these parts of the world some small places remain off the grid. In a world that is perpetually becoming more connected, the value of complete seclusion is increasing by the day. Koh Totang is a tiny lump of land that has little more than the essentials for life. The beaches are unspoiled, existing entirely as nature intended. A few hours on this beach, or if you're lucky, days, are enough to reset your frame of reference, enough to shake some life into your tired bones. It is a haven for those seeking rest, meaning, and authentic adventure. Getting to the island will take a little while. You will need to get the Royale Ferry to Koh Sdach, a small fishing village. From here you can then arrange a short private boat ride to Koh Totang.
3 Best Beach Resorts for a Memorable Stay
1. Independence Hotel Resort and Spa
The Independence Hotel Resort and Spa is really something else. The resort has two infinity pools, its own pier and its own private beach. If this doesn’t make something inside your stomach jingle, you may need to go for a check-up. Each of the rooms at this most magical of resorts has something unique to offer. Some rooms seamlessly integrate elements of the traditional Khmer culture, while others have jaw-dropping views out of, quite frankly, ridiculously large windows. None of the rooms are cheap, but none of them aren't perfect. Rooms begin at around KHR 650,000 and peak at around KHR 3,300,000.
2. Sokha Beach Resort
Possibly the most beautiful of the lot is the Sokha Beach Resort. The resort is set amidst palm trees and shrubbery immediately off the beach. The rooms are so incredibly wistful with light streaming in through the large balcony windows. Wooden floors and furnishings and long flowing curtains finish the rustic yet elegant feel of the rooms. The resort has several swimming pools, a spa, a fitness center and even a salon. While the resort isn’t cheap, the views and atmosphere are easily justify the price tag. Rooms start at KHR 650,000 and head up to around KHR 8,000,000.
3. Tamu Hotel
The Tamu Hotel is comparatively less impressive than the previous two resorts, especially when you consider that standard rooms go for a similar price. However, it is by no means unappealing. The hotel has taken inspiration from Balinese architecture and has got a barefoot chic feel to it. The rooms, furniture and architecture have a calming feel to them. The pool area goes even further to create a calming ambiance with deck chairs, umbrellas, and the sea just a stone's throw away. The rooms cost around KHR 650,000 and top out at around KHR 1,000,000.
It should be clear, after just a small bit of research, that the beaches of Cambodia (with some really outstanding ones) are easily able to rival those at other islands scattered across this part of the world.