No real roads. No traffic. No worries. Instead, one will be given a rare opportunity – to experience the ultimate freedom – quite literally. Narrow pathways cut through a thick jungle, made by the locals so they can get from one coast to the other, passing wild water buffaloes, and a few simple bamboo huts. Nothing really disturbs the delightful peace there is not a thing which would not belong to the islands.

Saracen Bay

Saracen Bay, Koh Rong Sanloem

KOH RONG ISLANDS – CAMBODIA`S BEST KEPT SECRETS

The big one – Koh Rong, is increasingly popular with backpackers. With plenty of guesthouses, beachside huts, seaside taverns and powdery beaches dotted with hammocks and swings, it is the ultimate chill-out hub in Cambodia.

The smaller sister-island Koh Rong Sanloem might be less visited yet, it is hiding secret places of an untold beauty. There is hardly any internet connection on the island and to book a beachfront cottage ahead is virtually impossible. Most of the travellers would simply hop on a boat and take their chances, walking down the beach and asking around. There are not many places like this left on Earth.

It seems there is not much to do on the islands. In fact, one can spend days just chilling – it is truly hard to leave the tiny tropical paradise of Koh Rong!

Beachfront taverns on Koh Rong

5 THINGS TO DO IN KOH RONG

1.LEARN to dive in Koh Rong. It might not be Koh Tao but it is less busy and more unwind. It will enable you to see the island from a different angle and you can enjoy a whole day trip on the boat, catch your own fish and cook it on the spot. Don`t forget to swim with the glowing plankton.

2.TREK around Koh Rong, which is the second largest island of Cambodia and it is hiding plenty of great jungle and beach treks. If you are not afraid of heights try one of the zip-lining options. This is a great way how to break the laze and get some adrenaline. Obstacle course in the air with lots of swings, rope bridges and ladders, create an outstanding “jungle gym”.

3.WALK to the stunning Long Beach and stay for its legendary sunset. It is a one-hour jungle trek from the end of Sok San Beach and you will need some good shoes. Enjoy the sea swing!

4.TAKE a boat to get to the other side of the island and get lost on the remote Lonely Beach. It is considered to be the most glorious beach on Koh Rong

5.HAVE a lazy evening at sunset – find a nice spot at one of the seaside taverns, try Amok curry, Angkor beer and chill.

Lonely Beach, Koh Rong

Lonely Beach, Koh Rong

5 THINGS TO DO IN KOH RONG SANLOEM

1.READ a book in one of the free hammocks along the Saracen Bay unless you fall asleep while swinging in the rhythm of waves. Free your mind of all worries and live the moment!

2.SNORKEL with diamond fish, yellow boxfish, jumping fish, seahorses and rays. Get active and dip in the emerald sea of Koh Rong Sanloem to explore its underwater world.

3.HIKE through the jungle to find a lighthouse. It is a 2-3 hour return trek which will take you to the very southern point of the island. You can climb up the old lighthouse and appreciate the staggering views from the bird`s eye perspective.

4.WATCH the impressive sunset on the Lazy Beach. If you stay on the main beach in Saracen Bay you will have to cut the island through jungle to get to the other side. There is a lovely bar on the Lazy Beach where you can have a drink or two while waiting for the sunset.

5.ENJOY doing ‘sweet nothing’ alone or with friends while barefoot sipping on a freshly squeezed fruit juice or a cocktail in one of the beachfront taverns.

Snorkelling in Koh Rong Samleon

Snorkelling at Koh Rong Sanloem

DID YOU KNOW?

At night, you can swim with sparkling plankton. This magical phenomenon is often overlooked. No one really tells you that the Koh Rong islands have some of the best conditions for the bioluminescent plankton in the world. This is an absolute miracle! Best on a cloudy night (the darker the better), slowly walk into the shallow waters of the sea and try to swirl the water with your hands and feet as plankton reacts to movement only. That is how the magic starts! The more you move the more sparkly it becomes. So, keep swimming and dancing and enjoy your personal Avatar world 🙂

Good locations where to swim with glowing plankton are: Saracen Bay in Koh Rong Sanloem and Long Beach on Koh Rong

Remember to bring some goggles and feast your eyes on the underwater glittering tornado!

Be advised that the plankton bites! 🙂

Glowing plankton, Koh Rong Islands

Glowing plankton, Koh Rong Islands

NOTE

Tourism development on Koh Rong Islands is rapidly growing.  The pristine paradise might well very soon turn into a different place.. Nonetheless, it is still a sanctuary and a peaceful escape from the busy towns of Cambodia, and for many travellers, one of the best kept secrets of South-East Asia. Hurry up!


TRAVEL TIPS

Make sure you have enough cash with you as you might want to extend your stay and there is limited ATM service (for an extra fee) on the island.

Take a good repellent, very intrusive insect is the flip side of Koh Rong islands

Pack some good trekking sandals/shoes with you since there are no proper roads and you will often need to walk through the jungle

Do not forget to get yourself a nice book for this trip

Add some extra days to your itinerary! Most of the visitors will want to extend their stay 😉

View from the lighthouse in Koh Rong Sanloem

WHEN TO TRAVEL

The best time to visit is probably between November and January when the islands get the least rain. However, a shower or two will not make any difference as the untouched paradise is as much enjoyable when wet and maybe even better for some reasons (the lightening plankton is best to see by cloudy nights).


HOW TO GET THERE

Fly To Phnom Penh and catch a local or a shuttle bus to Sihanoukville (4-hour drive). Here take a boat to Koh Rong. Boats depart 3 times a day, they stop on both islands and the ride takes about 45 min. Any guesthouse or travel agency in Sihanoukville will happily help you to book the trip.

For all international flights go to www.skyscanner.com or www.momondo.com

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Eva Bodova

By Eva Bodova

Monday 9 July 2018

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