Cambodia Beaches, Islands and the Coast
Your Cambodia travel would be incomplete without a trip to the beach. Sadly, the coastal town of Sihanoukville has become a victim of Cambodia’s rapid development. Once a popular destination with tourists seeking some beach action, Sihanoukville has seemingly been handed over to Chinese tourism. The city centre is under construction as more than 80 casinos are being built, signs in Mandarin sit above restaurants, shops and bars, and accommodation rates rapidly rise as land value skyrockets.
Even the quieter beaches of Otres and Otres II have been unable to escape, with huge development in the midst of transforming the area from tranquil getaway to almost mega-city scale. Grand plans claim Sihanoukville is on track to becoming Southeast Asia’s alternative to Macau. Thankfully, Cambodia still has a collection of relatively undeveloped tropical islands, meaning there is still plenty of postcard perfect beach action to be found.
Koh Rong, Cambodia’s largest and most developed island, is where the majority head. Speed boats connect Sihanoukville with Koh Rong, before going on to Koh Rong Sanloem. On Koh Rong, passengers are dropped off at Koh Toch pier. While the island has garnered a reputation as a party spot, we’re certainly not talking the extremes of the raucous full moon parties found on the Thai island of Koh Phangan. However, the stretch of beach next to the pier is where the majority of party-seeking backpackers and travellers head, with no shortage of guesthouses, basic bars and restaurants packing the area.
If you are searching for tranquillity then Lonely Beach fits the bill – the clue’s in the name
While Koh Rong is Cambodia’s most developed island, basic infrastructure is lacking. Electricity is run off generators so many spots switch it off at night, there are no roads running through the island’s jungle-hugged centre, internet is sketchy and getting from one side of the island to the other involves a fisherman’s boat taxi. On a plus side, this means that seeking a quieter spot on Koh Rong is easy – it’s home to 28 beaches in total.
If you are searching for tranquillity then Lonely Beach fits the bill – the clue’s in the name. Located in the north, the palm-fringed beach is home to just one guesthouse and nothing else but nature. Southwestern Coconut Beach boasts powder white sands that contrast with the lapping turquoise waters and is home to a small but steadily growing collection of accommodation. While Long Beach, previously called Sok San Beach, is home to a miles-long stretch of powder-white sand that crunches below the feet. This was where the 32nd series of reality TV show, Survivor, was filmed. It is home to Sok San Beach Resort, and further along the beach the island’s first five-star resort opened in the form of The Royal Sands Koh Rong.
Koh Rong Sanloem is Koh Rong’s smaller sister and where intrepid travellers attempting to escape Koh Rong’s growing crowds head. Of course, this has led to more development on the island’s shores and a boom in visitors. Island activities include kicking back and doing nothing in a tropical paradise setting, or snorkelling, diving, kayaking and trekking for the more intrepid.
As more visitors head to Koh Rong Sanloem, those seeking true solace are heading to Koh Ta Kiev
M’Pay Bei is a traditional fishing village nestled among the palm trees and tropical forest that cover the island’s northern tip and boasts a handful of simple shacks and guesthouses. To the east is the more exclusive Saracen Bay, with a cluster of eco tents and boutique bungalows on the edge of the pristine beach. The western side is an hour’s trek along jungle paths from the east or by boat. Three stunning beaches await, with Sunset and Lazy beach having accommodation.
As more visitors head to Koh Rong Sanloem, those seeking true solace are heading to Koh Ta Kiev where, apart from a few basic guesthouses and small fishing villages, the island remains idyllically deserted, with limited facilities so don’t expect any pampering, or too much hot water and electricity.
If planning on including the islands in your Cambodia travel plans, then it’s worth noting a few things. There are no ATMs on the islands so bring plenty of cash, although Green Ocean and White House guesthouses and Koh Lanta on Koh Rong’s Koh Touch have Eftpos terminals, which accept most bank cards. It comes with a 10 percent charge and the machines often run out of cash, so only use as a last resort.
Bring plenty of mosquito spray and also be aware that sand flies are rampant on some beaches, and, boy, do they bite.