What To Do in Koh Rong
Before you can even start planning out what you want to do in Koh Rong you first need to get yourself to Sihanoukville and then take a boat from there.
Sihanoukville is full of backpackers as many people go there to spend a few days in the town and then head over to the island of Koh Rong. If you’re going to Koh Rong anyway you might as well spend a bit of time in Sihanoukville before or after too.
Sihanoukville is full of beach parties, which you’d never realise on first arrival. If you just walk round the main streets of the town it’s all seems pretty quiet. But head down to the beach at about 10pm and it will all be kicking off there. In fact the only night I got drunk in Cambodia ,apart from on my last night in Battambang, was in Sihanoukville (and I was very drunk!).
They sell large bucket like portions of rum and coke for a dollar or two a pop at the beach parties so it’s really hardly surprising that happened (their buckets are just less fancy than the Thai ones and instead of being an actual bucket consist of large soda bottle with the top third cut off).
There is also another beach about 20-30 minutes from the center of Sihanoukville called Otres Beach that’s supposed to be beautiful and a popular place with backpackers to chill for a bit too.
Where to Stay in Sihanoukville
We stayed at One Stop Hostel because a lot of friends had recommended it. It’s got a pool in the center of it, the rooms have good air con and the wi-fi is strong. It’s also just off a roundabout, where on the other corner there is a great Pizza place and located close to the rest of the town.
A lot of people also stay in Monkey Republic and we tried to go on our way back from Koh Rong just to see something different but Monkey Republic didn’t accept advance bookings at the time, seems they now do, and were full so we went back to One Stop, which was great anyway so it wasn’t a problem that we couldn’t switch.
They also have cheap good food at the Monkey Republic bar and it’s a fun social place to hangout.
Maybe not for the squeamish of eaters though as we did see a rat scuttle across the middle of the bar floor while eating there one night so if something like that is going to make you distrust the hygiene of all food in the establishment you might be better off going elsewhere. Although that’s not exactly a rare occurrence in bars or restaurants in Asia, even the Western ones as so many places are exposed to the outside it’s just impossible for any establishment to keep all potential critters out.
And there are a lot of critters in Asia (just you wait till you see a huntsman ?).
Getting from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong
There are a lot of boats that go from Shianoukville to Koh Rong so it’s cheap and easy, just book at your hostel for the journey. You can also leave your big bag at the hotel if you’d like to while you go to Koh Rong so you don’t have to lug it there and back if you’re just going for a couple of days.
What to Do in Koh Rong
Koh Rong has one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen in my life. The sand is crisp white and it makes a completely unique crunching sound as you walk on it.
It just feels different to other sand.
Waking up each morning in a hut on the beach, being able to wander down to the sea is amazing and you can have an incredibly calm and peaceful time there if that’s what you’re looking for.
We didn’t go out and party but there is a happening bar scene in the evenings too (I just re-read this sentence 2 years after I wrote and it have realised I’ve clearly become an old lady, who says “happening bar scene” fml).
Day Trips from Koh Rong
We went on a snorkelling day trip from Koh Rong which we booked through the place we were staying. The snorkelling was average but one of the main draws of Koh Rong is the fact that at night the sea is lit up with glow plankton. I’d seen glow plankton for the first time when I went on a boat tip in Thailand off Phi Phi but it was NOTHING in comparison to the glow plankton in Koh Rong.
The boat waits till it gets dark then you all jump off with your snorkels and it’s like you have your very own private disco ball spiralling around you in the water.
Alternatively you could just wait till it’s night time and wander into the sea yourself to see the amazing spectacle as the glow plankton fill every inch of it there. I hear it’s particularly fun to do some mushrooms and then wander down to the water to play with the plankton. But just be careful if you are going to do that as water and drugs don’t seem like the safest of combinations to me!
Where to stay in Koh Rong
We wanted to stay at the bungalows that are run by the Monkey Republic hostel in Sihanoukville so before we left for Koh Rong we went and booked a bungalow from Monkey Republic. We were really lucky and go the last room so book as soon as you get to Sihanoukville if that’s where you want to stay.
I wouldn’t have stayed there if I wasn’t traveling with two friends from home for that part of the trip and if you’re on your own staying in one of the bungalows probably isn’t the easiest way to meet people, you’d likely be better off in a hostel.
I liked the bungalow and the bar they had attached to it but my friends, having just arrived in South East Asia and not having become as accustomed to the heat yet, struggled with it since there is just a fan and the rooms get WARM. If you can’t sleep when too hot you’re likely to have an uncomfortable time on Koh Rong as I don’t think anywhere there has air con.
If you do stay in a hostel just make sure you triple check the dorm bed before putting any of your stuff down or sitting on it. A lot of people I know have ended up with bed bugs from hostels in Koh Rong.
How Long to Stay in Koh Rong/Sihanoukville
It’s best to allow at least a night in Sihanoukville before heading to Koh Rong and one on your way back if not more depending on how much you want to explore the actual area of Sihanoukville. I stayed on Koh Rong two nights as my mates really weren’t enjoying the sweaty bamboo bungalow but most people end up getting stuck there for a week or two they enjoy the atmosphere so much.
If you’d like to get an experience of island life, but a slightly less sweaty experience the neighboring island of Koh Rong Sanloem is more built up while still being incredibly beautiful.
Getting from Koh Rong/Sihanoukville to Koh Kong
Having said there are lots of boats to and from Koh Rong and Sihanoukville when we tried to book our boat back to Sihanoukville we were told we couldn’t get the slow boat for another day so we had to upgrade our tickets to take the fast boat. The price difference really isn’t a lot though so if you end up having to do it it’s not the end of the world.
We booked our bus onto Koh Kong through our hostel in Sihanoukville and they picked us up from there in the morning. That bus did break down on us though.
Whilst that’s the one and only time this has happened to me in Cambodia I hear it happens a lot and waiting at the side of the road when the bus air con no longer works is an extremely uncomfortable experience. For my top tips on how to deal with this situation check out my Cambodia Itinerary post. And remember if it does happen to you, as cheesy as is sounds it really is the journey that matters. Read your book, chat to your friends or even make some new ones.