There are not many places of this kind left on Earth; untouched silken sands, hammocks and beach swings, scattered seaside bamboo huts, warm azure shallows, surreal sunsets and after dark one can dive into the sea of stars – quite literally. Glowing plankton is one of the best-kept secrets of Koh Rong Sanloem.

Koh Rong Sanloem


When the Koh Rong archipelago was discovered, the first visitors would endlessly rave about this mind-blowing, idyllic fairyland and they compared it to the fictional island in Alex Garland`s novel ‘The Beach’. Truly, these Cambodian islands remind of Thailand 20 years ago – utterly pristine!

While the bigger one – Koh Rong, features fast-growing development and a well-established backpackers scene, his tiny sister-island – Koh Rong Sanloem, is an idyllic tropical hideaway perfect for couples.

Saracen Bay, Koh Rong Sanloem


There is a good range of accommodation on Koh Rong Sanloem – from simple beachfront bamboo bungalows is M`Pay Bay to luxurious eco-villas in Saracen Bay, and there are numerous lovely seaside taverns along the beaches.

Local boats can take the visitors around the island and various boat tours are available at any resort or guesthouse. In fact, a ferry is the only way to reach the island from Sihanoukville. 

Koh Rong Sanloem, a ferry from Sihanoukville takes the tourists to the island

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  • TAKE A BOAT TOUR around the island to see the best of Koh Rong Sanloem.
  • SNORKEL with diamond fish, yellow boxfish, jumping fish, seahorses and rays. Dive into the emerald sea of Koh Rong Sanloem to explore its abundant underwater world.
  • LEARN TO DIVE – it might not be Koh Tao but it is cheaper, less busy and more relaxed. It will enable you to see the island from a different angle and you can enjoy a whole day on a boat, catch your own dinner or even swim with the glowing plankton!
  • GET ACTIVE  – book a tour with your guesthouse or resort (mountain biking, jungle trekking and sea kayaking are worthy)
  • EXPLORE the Robinson Beach on the other side of the Island. Put on some good footwear as you will need to get through the steep jungle to get there. Enjoy the tree swing by the beach!
  • HIKE TO THE  LIGHTHOUSE – it is a 2-3 hour return trek through the jungle 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 ey perspective.
  • READ A BOOK in one of the beachfront 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!
  • WATCH SUNSET  (from the Lazy Beach) – if you stay on the main beach in Saracen Bay you will have to cut the island through the 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.
  • SAVOUR THE KHMER FOOD – find a nice, comfy bar, try the local Amok curry, Angkor beer and take pleasure in a complete serenity.
  • HAVE A WALK along the Saracen Bay & enjoy the lazy moments while barefoot sipping on a refreshing cocktail in one of the beachfront taverns – you truly won`t need shoes in Koh Rong Sanloem 😉
  • SPEND A DAY doing totally nothing. Relax, sunbake and wade in the warm shallows. Koh Rong Sanloem is a perfect place for that! For instance, the Leng Meng Beach, Sweet Time Bungalows and The Pipes Resort have fabulous beach swings to enjoy for all couples.
  • BONUS – take a day trip to Koh Rong – the neighbouring island. There are daily ferries that operate between the islands – ask at your guesthouse.

Saracen Bay is dotted with cute beach swings and hammock


Jungle Trekking, Mountain Biking, Sea Kayaking, Snorkelling and Scuba Diving can be arranged in any resort or with your guesthouse, as well as a boat tour around the island and ferry to Sihanoukville.

Snorkelling in Koh Rong Samleon

Snorkelling in Koh Rong Samleon


This magical encounter is a big secret of the Koh Rong Islands. No one really tells you that the Koh Rong islands provide some of the best conditions for the bio-luminescent plankton in the world. This is an absolute miracle!

Best on a cloudy night, slowly walk into the shallow waters of the sea (Saracen Bay & Lonely Beach are ideal for their calm and shallow waters) 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 🙂

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

Be advised that the plankton bites (just gently)!

Glowing plankton, Koh Rong Islands

Glowing plankton, Koh Rong Islands


Tourism in Cambodia is rapidly growing and soon roads and more resorts will be built on Koh Rong Sanloem and possibly an airport on Koh Rong. Therefore hurry up! In a few years “the secret islands of Cambodia” might be no secret anymore…


  • Make sure you have enough cash with you as you might want to extend your stay and there is no ATM 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
  • Book your accommodation ahead as it there are very few resorts and during the peak season (Nov-May) get quickly fully booked
  • Add some extra days to your itinerary! Most of the visitors will want to extend their stay ;

For more information about Koh Rong Sanloem visit the official website

The Moonlight Resort is a fusion of French and Khmer hospitality (Saracen Bay)


The best time to visit is between November and May when the island gets 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 lightning plankton is best to see by cloudy nights).

The funky Pipes Resort offers unconventional but cozy beach bungalows


Fly to Sihanoukville.

Catch a ferry from the Serendipity Beach Pier in Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Sanloem. 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 or

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Eva Bodova

Wednesday 2 May 2018

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