Koh Rong is the largest island in all of Cambodia. About 23 km off the coast of Sihanoukville, it sits peacefully in the Gulf of Thailand and is often touted as the ultimate Cambodian paradise.
With a small population and only established as a tourist destination in the early 2000s, Koh Rong still remains visibly untouched. The luscious greens of the vast, rolling, jungle interior highlight how well-conserved the beautiful beaches are.
There’s also a vibrant but relaxing atmosphere. The calls and noises from the distant wildlife paired with the tranquil sounds of the ocean are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
To uncover this amazing island, you’ll have to take a 45-50 minute boat or ferry ride from Sihanoukville, which will make you feel like you’re really stepping into your own personal remote island.
Just remember: Don’t confuse Koh Rong with its younger, smaller Koh Rong Samloem island sibling. Koh Rong is much bigger! Its impressive 78 km2 area size overshadows Koh Rong Samloem’s 24.5 km2.
Koh Rong accommodation: Where to stay?
Knowing where to stay in Koh Rong is very important. You don’t want to arrive and find nowhere suitable — this can honestly make or break your trip.
In light of this, it’s worth being mindful of two things: where you want to explore and which beach appeals to you most.
The island can be quite a challenge to explore, especially with its dense jungle interior and lack of proper road networks.
With the help of our guide below, your best bet is to pre-plan everything you want to see and do and find suitable accommodation in that specific area.
Tip #1: Avoid staying in Koh Touch
First, we’ll let you in on a little secret hack: don’t stay in Koh Touch.
Despite its popularity as a party place for backpackers, Koh Touch isn’t all blue waters and a clean ocean. The number of people becoming sick there has increased by quite a fair amount.
The reason for this?
The sewerage system isn’t that advanced, which is to be expected from an undeveloped island, but it gets worse. The sewerage is being pumped back into the sea for all of you to splash in. Nice.
We recommend only staying there if your boat or ferry from Sihanoukville gets to the island evening time — it’s near-impossible to get any transport late at night and walking anywhere is too hazardous.
Tip #2: Find your own paradise beach at Long Set, Coconut, or Sok San Beach
So then, where should you go? There are two main options: Long Set Beach and Sok San Beach.
Or if you want to go even more remote, you can visit Coconut Beach, which is the smallest of all the beaches mentioned and sits right next to a tiny rustic village.
Long Set (4K) Beach: An endless white sand beach
Long Set Beach is located in the southeasterly region of Koh Rong, just 3 km north of Koh Touch — about an hour’s walk.
Long Set Beach is often also called 4K beach, referring to the 4 km distance of white sand beach with only a few places to stay taking up this immense long beach.
Coconut Beach: Camping on a white sand beach
Coconut Beach is a little further up the coast, which makes it a pretty long trek in the hot sun along the coastline!
There are a few more accommodation options here on this smaller but still decent beach with perfect white sand.
If you always dreamed of camping on a white sand beach 50m from a blue ocean, this is where you’ll find it.
Sok San Beach: The finest sand that feels like snow
Sok San Beach is on the other side of the island in the west and has one of the most stunning white coastlines in the world. Walking on it feels like putting your feet in the snow.
The superfine grains of sand suck your feet under about 10cm in some parts of the beach!
More remote beaches to stay on Koh Rong
The three beaches mentioned above are simply incredible and all have accommodation at reasonable rates.
But there are also other more remote beaches dotted around the island as well, namely Lonely Beach and Palm Beach. Accommodation is limited, however — you’ll only find one or two places to stay.
As soon as you get to either of these coastline beauties, make sure you crack open an Angkor beer and celebrate living life on the wild side.
How to get to these paradise beaches
If walking isn’t your thing and you want to save your energy for exploring your chosen beach paradise, you have two options:
Option #1: Organize your private longtail taxi boat
Private longtail taxi boats can cost anywhere between $15-$60 for a single trip (nearly double for a return ticket).
If you’re in a group of over four people, they may charge you $5 or $6 more. You can hire these boats directly through the taxi boat owner.
Option #2: A transfer service with one of the ferry companies
Transfer tickets with a ferry company cost $6-$7 depending on where you’re going.
There are five different ferry companies to choose from: Speed Ferry Cambodia, Island Speed Boat Cambodia, Buva Sea, Angkor Speed Ferry, or GTVC.
You can buy these tickets directly through the ferry companies at the main port in Koh Touch.
Prepare to go back in time on Koh Rong
When you travel to Koh Rong, don’t go in there expecting the same creature comforts you’d find on the mainland. The island hasn’t really caught up with modern times yet!
Honestly? Koh Rong feels like Koh Tao in Thailand 30 years ago.
The difference, however, is in both the islands’ area sizes. Koh Tao (21 km2) is roughly the same size as Kong Rong Samloem, making it four times smaller than Koh Rong.
Prep #1: Shopping and necessities
Koh Rong doesn’t particularly spoil you for shopping choices. You’re not going to find any decent shopping areas or markets. In fact, the island only really has a few convenience stores and overpriced pharmacies.
The pharmacies are very basic and stock a limited number of prescription and over-the-counter medicines.
We advise you to buy everything you need on the mainland to avoid the risk that they won’t have it on the island.
Here are a few suggestions of what to bring before you hop on the ferry to Koh Rong:
If you do need to visit a convenience store or pharmacy and you have no idea where one is, don’t hesitate to ask your accommodation staff — they’ll be able to direct you!
Prep #2: Don’t expect to find an ATM in Koh Rong
ATMs don’t exist anywhere in Koh Rong. You also can’t use your debit or credit card to pay for anything. It’s either cash or bust.
If you’re really stuck for money and you haven’t brought money with you, there are a few convenience stores that have payment terminals offering card-to-cash transactions. This usually comes with an eye-watering 10% fee, so please don’t rely on this — only save it for emergencies or if you’ve run out of options.
How much cash do I need to bring?
We recommend planning out what you want to do before getting to Koh Rong and mapping out your budget. At the lower end, we suggest $15-$25 ($30-50 for couples) per day if you’re keeping it basic.
On the other hand, if luxury and activities are what you’re after, you’re probably looking at approximately $40-$50 ($70-$100 for couples) per day. This includes accommodation as well.
But again, this is all down to how much you want to do and see, as well as where you want to stay and for how long.
Prep #3: Get a 4G card to be able to use internet on the island
As for the internet? You’ll find it in some hotels and guesthouses. Unfortunately, it kind of sucks.
Your best bet is to grab a SIM card on the mainland if it’s necessary for you to be connected to the world around you.
In fact, two of the biggest and most popular phone service providers (Smart and Metfphone) offer pre-pay SIM cards that can be recharged in Koh Touch.
Smart pre-pay SIMs cost as low as $0.20 for 1GB all the way up to $10 for 12GB. Metfone does pre-pay sim cards for as little as $0.10 for one night’s use all the way up to $20 for 40GB that can be used for up to 30 days.
Surprisingly, the 4G coverage is pretty good. This will save you a lot of trouble when you’re trying FaceTime with your friends and family back home!
How to get around on Koh Rong
Wondering why you can’t find any info on roads and infrastructure in Koh Rong? Well, there isn’t any infrastructure (unless you could the jungle as one big eco-infrastructure!).
There are practically no roads, and the ones that do exist in the southern part of Koh Rong are wide dirt tracks with hazardous pot-holes and rocks littered all over them.
You, therefore, won’t find any tuk-tuks, taxis, or buses used here for public transport. Boats are the only viable way to get around the island.
How to get to Koh Rong
If you want to travel to Koh Rong, you can book one of the ferries coming from Sihanoukville.
Pay careful attention to which port the ferry will drop you at, though. Most ferries go to Koh Touch, but you may want to consider staying somewhere else.
It will save you a lot of hassle when you choose the right arrival port from the beginning. If you don’t know where you will go yet, Koh Touch will be your safest bet. From here, you can still take private boats to other parts of the island.
The second option is to take a boat from Koh Rong Samloem. Many travellers go from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem first, and then extend their island trip with a ferry ride to its bigger brother Koh Rong.
Check the links below to see the complete route guides.