Koh Rong is undeniably home to some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Southeast Asia! Known as the Maldives of Cambodia, this pristine destination hasn’t yet made it to the mass tourism radar and retains a magical small island vibe. It might not stay like this forever, but while it is, here are the best things to do on this secluded paradise island!
Top 14 Things to do in Koh Rong
Make sure to check out our Koh Rong – The Ultimate Guide to The Maldives of Cambodia for more information to help you plan your trip to Koh Rong in 2023!
1. Rent a scooter and explore the island
We visited Koh Rong in February of 2023 and although roads are still in development, we had no problem getting around the island on a scooter!
A good one-day itinerary by scooter would be starting from Kaoh Touch Beach to Long Beach, Sok San Village and Varisan Nureach Waterfall, Song Saa Bay, Prek Tasok Ecotourism Community, Pagoda Beach, and Long Set Beach.
The road from Long Set back to Kaoh Touch Beach is still under construction so the only way back by scooter is currently the same way you used to get there in the first place.
2. Enjoy the pristine Long Beach
With powdery white sand and turquoise water, this is one of the most beautiful beaches in Koh Rong in our opinion!
We recommend you visit this beauty early in the morning before the boat tours start arriving bringing flocks of tourists with them. The best place to swim and enjoy the day here is close to the cross-shaped pier on the South of the beach.
3. Watch the sunset at Sok San Village
On the very North of Long Beach is Sok San Village, a traditional fishing village famous for its seafood restaurants (very good-priced!) and for being the best sunset spot on the island.
You can reach Sok San Village by getting a boat from either Kaoh Touch or Long Set Beach for about $7 per person, one-way. Alternatively, you can also rent a scooter and drive there. The road is ready up until Sok San Beach Resort, after that you have a dirt road that leads to the village.
4. Explore the sandbanks at Song Saa Bay
Some beaches at Koh Rong are so shallow that they form sandbanks when the tide is getting lower. When that happens it becomes super easy to understand why this island is called the Maldives of Cambodia!
Our favorite place to see sandbanks is at Song Saa Bay, in front of Song Saa Private Island. The bay is more of a mangrove beach than a sandy one, and not that easy to access but if you want to spend some time swimming and walking around sandbanks with almost no one around, this is the perfect place.
To get here you need to drive the main road up to this entrance. Take the dirt road down to the seaside and park your scooter under the palm trees. Walk to the left and across the bridge, then take the right path up to here, where you’ll find an opening that leads to the sea. Here’s how you enter the water and walk to the sand banks!
The best time to visit is between high and low tide. During low tide, the beach dries up and during high tide, there are no sandbanks so make sure you go in between those times. You can check Koh Rong’s tide forecast here.
5. Walk and relax on the beach
Chances are you’ll spend most of your time here relaxing by the beach, eating some fresh fruit, and interacting with the lovely Cambodian kids. Here are the beaches you can easily walk to:
If you’re staying at Kaoh Touch, the best part of the beach is located in front of the White Beach Bungalows. You can also easily walk to Long Set Beach, and stop at Nest Beach Club on the way. Police Beach is also really close to Kaoh Touch but the beach is not that nice.
If you’re staying at Long Set Beach, you can also walk to Suns of Beaches and the other bay after it.
Note: We highly discourage swimming near the pier as it’s where the sewage is discharged.
6. Go waterfall chasing
Koh Rong is also home to lush jungles and waterfalls you can trek to!
The Varisan Nureach Waterfall, in Sok San Village, is an easy trek that can be done without a guide. It takes about 5-10 minutes from the village to the rocky bottom part of the waterfall and then you have to climb the rocks up to the main fall.
The Prek Svay Waterfall, on the other hand, is a much more impressive waterfall hidden deep in Koh Rong’s jungle. The trail is not well marked so a guide is recommended and can be arranged with your hotel.
Note: Whatever waterfall you choose, note that there won’t be much water in the dry season.
7. Take a day trip to Koh Rong Sanloem
Koh Rong has a smaller sister island that you can also visit on a day tour. Koh Rong Sanloem is also home to some stunning white sand beaches and is quite famous on the backpacker route for the Mad Monkey Party Hostel.
You can take a quick 15-20 minutes ferry to the nearby island for as little as $5 one-way. Check beforehand to which pier the ferry is heading – you should head to Saracen Bay instead of M-Pai Bay to properly enjoy the island!
8. Swim with bioluminescent plankton
Koh Rong is home to the pretty cool natural phenomena of bioluminescent plankton, which are definitely one of the highlights of a trip to the island!
The glowing plankton can be seen by getting into the water in the dark, with snorkels, and splashing your hands under the surface.
Although being quite abundant on both Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, it can only be seen in places with very little light pollution and so taking an evening boat tour is the best option to spot them. These night tours are also sold at Kaoh Touch Beach, and it costs around $5 (leaving at 7 PM).
9. Go beach hopping around the island on a boat tour
Probably the best way to explore Koh Rong is to hop on a boat tour around the island!
You can find stands selling boat tours all over Kaoh Touch Beach, and a day tour should cost no more than $15. Tours usually start in the afternoon, stopping at several remote beaches and snorkeling points around the island, and finish after sunset so you can also swim in the dark with bioluminescent plankton!
10. Kayak over to Koh Toch Island
Right in front of Kaoh Touch Beach, there’s a small island named Koh Toch or Pagoda Island – it consists of only a pagoda, a couple of monks, and nature. Being so close to the beach, it is a great place to explore by kayak!
Kayaks can be rented from the beachfront restaurants and hotels on both Kaoh Touch and Long Set Beach and should cost around $5 per hour or $10-15 per day.
11. Kayak on the mangrove forest
Kayaking on the beach is always an option but at Koh Rong Island you also kayak through a winding river surrounded by thick mangrove forest!
The mangrove forest is located at Prek Tasok Ecotourism Community, around a 20-minute drive from Kaoh Touch Beach, and is easily accessible by scooter. The kayak rental cost $10 per hour, per double kayak (fits 2 people).
Note: Make sure to explore the boardwalk through the forest too!
12. Go Snorkelling & Scuba Diving
In 2018, Cambodia announced the establishment of its very first marine national park which takes in the seven islands of the Koh Rong archipelago and the web of coral around them. Although not considered high-grade by the diving community, this incredible conversation area is home to some really cool snorkeling and diving spots!
Snorkeling on Koh Rong Island
The main tourist areas of Koh Rong (Kaoh Touch and Long Set Beach) are unfortunately not great for snorkeling. The easiest and cheapest way to snorkel if you’re based here is to go on a day boat tour around the island.
Alternatively, you can get a private boat to Lonely Beach, on the northern side of Koh Rong, where the snorkel is said to be the best on the island.
Note: The roads leading to this Lonely Beach are still under construction, but roads are getting ready pretty fast so we recommend you check with the locals if you can already drive there.
Now the best snorkeling trip you can do on Koh Rong is by hiring a private long boat to Pineapple Island. The island is practically uninhabited and is surrounded by some fantastic snorkeling locations! A private boat trip here should cost around $70.
If you want to go snorkeling at Koh Rong Samloem, we recommend Lazy Beach and Sunset Beach on the western side of the island.
Diving on Koh Rong Island
Being so close to the mainland, the visibility around the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem is unfortunately not the best, but you can still spot very colorful corals, sponges, and anemones, as well as different types of sharks (even whale sharks if you dive during December and May).
Fun Dives cost around $95 per two dives, and you can also get your PADI training done for around $450 (Open Water Certificate).
In case you have some extra time, the Dive Shop Cambodia and the Scuba Nation Koh Rong on Koh Rong Samloem both offer an incredible adventure: a liveaboard trip to the remote islands of Koh Prins and Koh Tang, which offer a much better diving experience. We didn’t have the chance to do it on this trip, but this is an experience we will happily come back for!
13. Party and make some new international friends
The social scene at Koh Rong is very large around backpackers and the island used to host some big Full-Moon-like parties a couple of years ago. The beach club that used to host this big party has been long closed but ask around and you’ll always find a party happening in one of the many hostels on the island!
A good one is the Nestival – an afternoon of social games and drinking hosted by Nest Beach Club every Saturday.
14. Try the local food and get a fruit shake
Most of the restaurants, cafes, and bars are located in the main village of Kaoh Touch beach.
We highly recommend the Happy Family restaurant: both Khmer and Western menus, a clean kitchen, safe-to-drink ice (so important when in Cambodia), and the best Lok Lak on the island!
Right next to the Happy Family restaurant, you’ll also find the famous Fruit Shake lady (you can trust her ice too). Everyone gets shakes and fruit salads here and they’re cheap, fresh, and delicious!
Koh Rong Travel Tips
- Koh Rong is a bit more expensive than mainland Cambodia and there are no ATMs on the island. Only a few places accept cards too so you should plan your stay carefully and bring enough cash with you.
- A few places offer a cash-out service where you can get cash by paying with your credit card. Note that the service fee for this is way more expensive than an ATM fee, but it’s an option in case you run out of cash while on the island.
- There are no hospitals on the island, only a small pharmacy.
- You can get a boat to Koh Rong’s sister island, Koh Samloem, for as little as $5 per person one-way
- Power outages are common on the island, especially at night
- Wifi is very bad on the island, we recommend getting a good SIM card (we used Smart and it worked perfectly on the island)
- Sandflies are said to be a problem on some beaches here. We didn’t experience it, but in case you do, coconut oil is a great way to avoid their bites.
You can find everything about Koh Rong here: Koh Rong – The Ultimate Guide to The Maldives of Cambodia