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Koh Rong – The Ultimate Guide to The Maldives of Cambodia

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Once a backpacker’s secret destination, Koh Rong used to be a challenge to visit just a few years ago: there was limited accommodation, no hot water, no wifi, and no roads. It’s no wonder the island hosted the 32nd season of Survivor in 2015!

Although roads are still in the making, the island has long developed into a great destination for all types of travelers and now offers plenty of accommodations and things to do; all while still retaining its magical small island vibe.

Koh Rong Island drone view during sunset

From white sandy beaches and crystal clear turquoise waters resembling the Maldives to lush jungles filled with waterfalls, Koh Rong is the paradise island you can’t miss in Cambodia!

Also see: Top 14 Things to do on Koh Rong

Best Time to Visit Koh Rong

The best time to visit Koh Rong is during Cambodia’s dry season, from mid-November to May, although we recommend the months of December to February for the best weather and water clarity.

How Long to Stay on Koh Rong

Whatever your first plan is, chances are you’ll likely extend your stay here! We recommend at least 3-4 days to explore the island. One week would be ideal.

How to Get to Koh Rong

Koh Rong is the second largest island in Cambodia and it’s located in the Gulf of Thailand. To get there, you must take the ferry from Sihanoukville.

There are currently five ferry companies that officially operate the route from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong and they all cost around $25 for a return ticket and take about 45 minutes to reach the island. We recommend getting a return ticket with an open return date as each one-way ticket will cost you around $15.

Ferries run from 7:30 AM to 5 PM and stop at Koh Touch Bay and Long Set Beach. We recommend booking the tickets in advance using 12Go Asia.

Note: there are a couple of slow boat services that charge only $5-$10 and take 1.5 to 2.5 hours. These services are not professionally run and are not recommended.

Where to Stay on Koh Rong

If you’re not looking for a resort, then there are only two beaches that offer good enough infrastructure for tourists: Kaoh Touch Beach and Long Set Beach. It’s here that you’ll find restaurants and bars and most of every single commercial establishment on the whole island. Here are some of our recommendations in this area:

Note: for a budget stay, we would also recommend the XL Guesthouse, although only if you manage to book the big room upstairs which faces the beach! The other rooms in the guesthouse are very cheap but we’d not recommend it.

If you prefer a secluded luxury resort, here are our recommendations:

Where to Eat at Koh Rong

Most of the restaurants, cafes, and bars are located in the main village of Kaoh Touch Beach. Food on Koh Rong Island will usually cost between $3-10.

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! The Quesadilla Wrap is also delicious.

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! A fruit juice here goes for $1.25 and a medium fruit salad goes for $1.5, so cheap!!

Getting Around Koh Rong

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! Some beaches are still only accessible by boat but you can easily arrange that too. If you’re based at Kaoh Touch or Long Set Beach you can also walk to a few beaches nearby.

🛵 Renting a scooter

You can rent a scooter directly from your hotel or from the beachfront restaurants both at Kaoh Touch and Long Set Beach. It should cost you around $10/day (including gas). Extra gas will cost you around $2 for a bottle, which fills up the tank.

⛵ Boat Taxis

The easiest way to go from beach to beach is to get a boat taxi. You can arrange this more easily from Kaoh Touch Beach as there are shuttle boats running on a fixed schedule from there. Below is roughly what you should expect to pay for each route:

  • Koh Touch to Sok San Beach: $6 per person, one-way
  • Koh Touch to Sok San Village: $7 per person, one-way
  • Koh Touch to Suns of Beaches: $5 per person, one-way
  • Koh Touch to Coconut Beach: $5 per person, one-way
  • Koh Touch to Koh Samloem: $5 per person, one-way

Alternatively, you can get a private long-tail boat to take you around Koh Rong. You can expect to pay between $15-60 one-way per boat depending on the distance, for up to 4 passengers. For each extra passenger, there’s an additional $5 fee.

Things to Do at Koh Rong

Some of the best things to do on Koh Rong Island include:

🐚 Beach hopping: get on a boat tour around the island for $15!

🌿 Waterfall chasing: choose between the Varisan Nureach or the Prek Svay Waterfalls for a refreshing day in nature.

🛶 Kayaking: kayaking on the beach is always an option but on Koh Rong, you can also make your way through a mangrove forest by kayak!

🤿 Swimming with bioluminescent plankton: hop on a sunset boat tour and have a magic experience snorkeling with bioluminescent plankton.

🥳 Partying: the social scene here is very large around backpackers! Ask around and you’ll always find a party happening in one of the many hostels. A good one is the Nestival – an afternoon of social games and drinking hosted by Nest Beach Club every Saturday.

If you want to see an in-depth guide to what to do in Koh Rong, check out our Top 14 Things to Do on Koh Rong guide!

Daily Budget

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.

Note: 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.

Koh Rong on a Budget:

🛏️ Accommodation: the cheapest accommodations start at $5-9 a night for hostel dorms and $15-20 for budget private rooms.

🍔 Food: different from mainland Cambodia, you won’t find anything cheaper than $2 here. Food will usually cost between $3-10, averaging $5 per dish.

🚌 Transport: the ferry to and from will cost $25. Renting a scooter costs $10 per day including gas. If you plan on taking taxi boats, consider at least $15 per day.

🎟️ Activities: it’s totally possible to visit the island without paying for any tours, but if you plan on doing at least one boat tour you should consider the $15 from the tour on your budget.

Note: we visited Koh Rong on a budget for a week during the high season. We managed to stay at a budget of around $20 per person per day.

Sandbanks on Koh Rong Island

Koh Rong Travel Tips

  • 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
  • Wi-Fi is terrible 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.

See more from Cambodia here!

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We’re Nick & Bruno, two creative souls who decided to set off to explore the world while sharing authentic experiences, travel resources and tips, and inspiring adventures online. We hope you can find inspiration and motivation from our posts to chase your travel dreams too. Come decide Where to Flow with us!

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