As you may have gathered from my travel itinerary over the last few months I’m a complete sucker for island life.
Some backpackers like to explore cities, some like to hike – I on the other hand love kicking back on the beach and doing…well…absolutely sod all!
And with Cambodia being my favourite country in Asia so far it is bound to have it’s fair slice of beach life to appease the surfer side of me and despite not having any waves this slice of laid back luxury comes in the form of Koh Rong Island.
Getting to Koh Rong itself is pretty easy, albeit quite time consuming.
There are 3 main places you’ll probably be heading there from – Siem Reap, Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville.
From Siem Reap (which if you’ve overlanded from Bangkok will be your first stop in Cambodia) it’s a case of enduring the sleeper bus for 9 hours to Sihanoukville – try and get the ‘hotel bus’ and a direct one at that if possible. It’ll set you back around $17.
From Phnom Penh you cut down the time slightly to a 5-6 hour mini bus trip to Sihanoukville and cost around $8 – or if you fancy some flash packing or have a good sized group you can grab a taxi or mini bus for around $45.
Once you’ve made it in one piece to Sihanoukville you need to negotiate the tuk tuk drivers and get to the jetty, grabbing your ferry ticket en route. If you’re awake enough to barter you can get the journey for about $6 and split it between 5 backpackers if you’re lucky!
I opted to grab the cheaper ferry via Koh Rong Dive Centre (who I will straight out suggest you don’t dive with though as my experience with them was nothing short of dangerous and unprofessional) to the island which will set you back $5 each way and you might as well buy a return as it’s open dated…you’ll probably spend longer than you first intended anyway!
Luxury Living, Backpacker Budget
The one draw back about being on an island is they tend to come with a hefty price tag. Koh Rong though keeps on track with the Cambodian budget.
Once you’re on the island there’s a variety of accommodation options with a sea view dorm with fan for around $3.
A short walk along the beach and you can up your standard of accommodation and also style – with my personal preference being Monkey Island where you can get a private beach side bungalow for $20 per night, which can comfortably sleep 3 people. The great thing about this hostel is it’s right on the ocean and has an amazing restaurant/ chill out shack, so if you want to kick back with good food, good cocktails and good vibes it’s the perfect spot to base yourself.
For those wanting something a bit more interesting there’s even a treehouse resort where you can kip 20 foot in the air in your own private treehouse shack for about $35.
When it comes to eating a good size western meal will set you back around $3-4, a tasty local khmer dish will be a bit cheaper although places to eat on the island are pretty limited.
And of course kicking back on the beach wouldn’t be complete without an ice cold beer or cocktail in hand – expect a can of Klang to set you back around $1 and a cocktail $3 – the Monkey Island happy hour is 241 though from 6-9pm if you want more bang for your buck.
Island Life, Island Time
One of the biggest draws of Koh Rong for me given the fact I’m a tech addict is the lack of electricity – it’s like a forced detox from modern day life!
The island is generator and solar powered, meaning there is only really solid electricity from 5:30pm until midnight in most places. So pack away your laptop and smartphone, hit the beach and enjoy the downtime and quiet!
That general laid back vibe oozes across the whole places – lazy hammock days, snorkelling and swimming in the sea is the order of the day. Top up your tan, read a book – or simply enjoy doing nothing!
In the evening cocktails and beers are in full force, with reggae tunes and a social atmosphere at the few rag tag beach shack bars.
By midnight you’re either heading to bed after a relaxing evening or stripping down for some skinny dipping carnage if the mojitos have been flowing!
Koh Rong really does run on island time.
If you want a break, a different side of Cambodia, or simply to escape the hustle and bustle of life backpacking Asia for a few days then pencil it in – just don’t pencil in a return date because it’s hard work doing nothing and you might want to stay a little longer than planned…!
And if you want more info on how much to budget for Cambodia check out this post.
Have you been to Koh Rong – what did you think of it? Any recommendations on places to stay or thing to do?