In a nutshell
Koh Rong Samloem looks like a tiny spot on the globe lost somewhere in the Pacific. It’s a place to hide from all the routine and fuss and deepen into the ocean of self-discovery and intimate emotions.
Why go to Koh Rong Samloem
Koh Rong Sanloem is one of those inhabited islands with touristic infrastructure lacking a single sealed road. Sounds almost incredible, does it not? It is; and it is better to hurry up to catch this island’s purity and essential beauty.
And now we will dispel the myth about electricity. Each hotel have several generators of their own to feed the whole building network. They do not provide electricity 7/24, alas, but they do inform the guests about the times electricity is available beforehand.
Well, but frankly speaking after staying on the island for a while and dropping into its innate rhythms you’ll tend to prefer cicadas’ buzzing than listening to generators’ rumble. Being out in this unusual tropical wild and pristine atmosphere opens up new edges of your own self. A chance not to be missed, guys!
Getting in and out
So, let’s get our trip started. Getting to the island is very easy. There are only two things to bother about: you have to decide where you wish to start your journey in Sihanoukville (Serendipity beach pier or Sihanoukville port) and which operator you want to travel with. All of them provide very similar level of comfort and sell tickets at similar prices, too.
– Buva Sea Cambodia to KRS (Saracen Bay): 8.00am, 11.00am, 2.00pm, 5.00pm; return: 7.00am, 9.30am, 12.30pm, 3.30pm; from USD10 one-way; duration 45 min.
– Speed Ferry to KRS (Saracen Bay): 9.00am, 11.30am, 3.00pm; return: 10.00am, 12.30pm, 4.00pm; from USD10 one-wa; duration 45 min.
– Island Speed Ferry Cambodia or TBC to KRS (Saracen Bay): 9.00am, 12.00pm, and 3.00pm; return: 10.15am, 1.15pm, 4.15pm; from USD10 one-way; duration 45 min.
– GTVC Speed Boat to KRS (Saracen Bay): 8.00am, 11.00am, 2.00p.m., and 4.00pm; return: 8.30am, 11.30am, 2.30pm, 4.30pm; USD20 return ticket; duration 45 min.
– Party boat to KRS (Saracen Bay): 9.30am; return: 3.30pm; USD20-25 two ways; return date might be open; route usually includes hopping some islands on the way, snorkeling and buffet lunch; check the info beforehand; duration 2.5h
– local slow ferry, aka supply boat providing islanders with fuel for generators, construction stuff, water, some food and etc. is also an option to get to the island; leaving early in the morning from Sihanoukville Pier 52; return: 4-4.30pm; USD5 one way; duration 2h.
While in Sihanoukville, you can pop into Koh Rong Dive Center offices on Serendipity Beach Rd. and on the island pier – they are usually well aware of the situation with the boats and can help arrange your trip.
Please double check info about dates, departure point and time, transfer duration, cost and etc.
Before buying your ticket to Koh Rong Sanloem, check which beach you want to land on as the boats bring passengers to four different beaches around the island. If you end up on the wrong beach you may need to take a boat to travel to another beach, though taking a tuk-tuk is also possible.
Accommodation on Koh Rong Samloem
Most boats coming to KRS dock at Saracen Bay aka the central pier. It’s an amazing heart-shaped creek full of rich colors and sparkling-to-blindness sand on the endless beach gradually melting into green jungle line on the horizon.
There are 9 first-line bungalows on this side greeting you on behalf of Saracen Bay Resort and a bunch of others, such as Leng Meng Beach Bungalows, Sweet Dreams Samloem, and Moonlight Resort. All of them have their own restaurants and/or beach bars, pool tables, volleyball playgrounds, swings, hammocks and open lounges with patios.
Accommodation price varies from USD10 for a bunk in a dorm to USD150 per night in a luxury resort with all the possible modern conveniences you would expect to have for that price including but not limited to aircon, electricity, Wi-Fi and much more.
There is a nature trail passing close to Jungle Bar & Hostel on Saracen Beach. It crosses the jungle-covered island leading you to its western side where you find another beach known as the Lazy Beach. You won’t get lost making your way through the jungle: it’s a well-beaten path, which will take you around 25 min. There you’ll find a dozen of bungalows mixed with random bars and cafes and stalls standing along the coast with unobstructed vistas of endless seas. It feels like lost-in-the-ocean movie!
One of undeniable advantages of this side of the island is the feeling of the ocean it gives to you. You feel as if it were the ocean but not the sea in front of you. Saracen Bay faces mainland and when scanning the horizon you clearly understand that there’s big land quite close to you. Thus the main beach of Koh Rong Sanloem actually fails to give you that precious feeling of isolation, alas! – though it is still a great choice for feeling relaxed and peaceful.
It’s all different in case with the Lazy beach. To reach it, you’ll pass through the jungle finally bumping into the beach edge which has nothing further on for hundreds of kilometers around, not even a tiny piece of land, but only ocean winds. The mere thought of it is overwhelming!
Love the picture? Well, stay on Lazy Beach, then! The namesake Lazy Beach resort has bungalows which are a perfect choice with all you need for USD30. They offer board games, books, badminton and volleyball courts, table tennis, snorkeling gear for rent.
Moving further north from the Lazy Beach you come to one more beach logically named Sunset Beach and for a good reason: like the Lazy Beach it faces west but boasts unobstructed sea views and the best sunset panoramas on the island are found here. There is a scattering of bungalows mostly with European owners. The facilities you find here are similar to what other beaches offer, so expect usual restaurants and bars. The beach is really lovely with more than acceptable pricing of USD5 for a dorm in Huba Huba up to high-end wooden Robinson bungalows for USD90.
In the western part of the northernmost bay of the island there is the fourth main area to search for accommodation called M’phei Bei. It is a local workaday fishing village with all its charms. M’phei Bei has the most budget-friendly accommodation options on the island; dorms start from USD5 and bungalows go for USD20. Though much more low-key than, e.g., Saracean Bay, this areas offers all the usual sea-related activities including fishing, snorkelling, diving, kayaking, all in keeping with the best traditions of island vacation.
Activities on Koh Rong Samloem
No wonder, that sea-related activities are on top of the list on Koh Rong Sanloem. And now we’re gonna say something you would be confused with. The best way for snorkelling on Koh Rong Sanloem is night. Why so, you wonder? The reason is plankton. Due to no lights it’s so dark in here at night that sparkling plankton can be distinctively seen in the water. Hardly entering the sea knee-high, excitement and elation are burning fire. Each movement is accompanied by thousands of blue flashes. Is seems like your body is charged with electricity and you became a flashman.
If simple pleasures of island vacation are not enough for you, make a trip to the south end of the island to the old lighthouse. The road goes all the way through the jungle but it has direction markers and signs. Look out for insects and snakes, wear appropriate clothes; wide-flapped hat, long pants and long-sleeves– and you will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views. From the viewpoint on top of the lighthouse the whole island can be seen from above. On clear days the neighbouring Koh Rong surrounded by mind-blowingly blue waters all around is an unforgettable sight, too.
If you need some kind of ‘sightseeing’ you actually do not need go as far as that, though. In Central port area, look for a small river estuary in the right part of the spacious bay. In some places the river flow forms small cascades. The owner of the nearest hotel built a sort of a dam which formed a natural pool with sea nigh at hand. Now it is a nice place to kick up heels and get a free natural massage. Tables are installed in the water area and drinks are served right there. Enjoy!
Safe travel on Koh Samloem
Good news: statistics says that the region to which Koh Rong Sanloem belongs is considered to be SEA’s most seismically stable areas and tsunami is unlikely to came here.
Even better news: it may seem crazy but people are not scared to leave their stuff unsupervised in this little paradise of an island. We’ve seen laptops left on beds in dorms and cells lying over the towels on the beach while guys were swimming or snorkelling. You think, oh come on, are we in Cambodia or what? But apparently remoteness from the 'big world' dictates new rules. This feeling when you can just relax and feel safe is quite rare these days, is it not?