Koh Rong Sanloem is still this relatively untouched island, with lush jungle and clear water bays with white sand… a basically beautiful place, where you lose track of time.
Here are our must do on the island, and a few advice!
What to do on Koh Rong Sanloem
Koh Rong Sanloem is a great place for snorkeling. While the bays have endless white sand beaches, the “rocky” areas are a great refuge for fish and other marine life, as well as coral growing.
You can either swim around and found your own spots, go on a boat trip, use access from the cliff hostels such as The Lookout or The Cliff Hostel which have stairs down to the sea, or take the “waterfall path” down to the sea as well. This area is really rich in wildlife and we had a great time swimming around. Most places will rent you snorkels and goggles so there is no need to worry about it.
Our advice: beware of sea urchins! They are big, they are everywhere, and they hurt.
Many places (such as the Mango Lounge) will rent you kayaks. Go either in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the heat and go for a stroll! Take snorkel equipment with you so you can check out reefs.
The Waterfall Hike
The waterfall hike is a 10 minutes walk through the jungle and gets you to the shore, where you can check out a small waterfall. However be advised that there is only water in the wet season! It is completely dry the rest of the time, but this allows you to go for a swim. The start of the hike is being the dorm of the Cliff Hostel (there is a small sign on a tree). Ask your accomodation for more hikes to do around!
Go spend the day at Clear Water Bay
Clear Water Bay is this beautiful sand beach with incredibly crystal clear water, a real postcard! You can access it from M’Pai Bay by an 1h30 walk (half of it on the beach, and the other half through the jungle).
Check this article about how to get to Clear Water Bay from M’Phai Bay (it can be a bit confusing without knowing where you are going).
Bring your food and drinks, as there is nothing there. Two little girls were selling drinks last time we spent the day, but I doubt they are doing this all the time. On google map, you will see Driftwood Lounge, but don’t trust it, it looks like it has been closed for a while and that people now live in the common areas.
Take the opportunity to clean the beach from plastic… for a free beer!
On your way back from Clear Water Bay, take the opportunity to clear the area from plastic and garbage… as unfortunately there is quite a bit in some areas.
Koh Rong Samloem Eco Retreat (formerly Koh Rong Samloem Villas) is the last stop at the end of the M’Pai Bay beach, before entering the jungle. In order to keep the area clean from the plastic brought in by the tide, they have a great initiative: any person bringing back a bag of garbage picked up on the way back from Clear Water Bay can drop it to them… and get a beer on the house!
A good action… and a nice reward!
Go on a boat tour
There are many boat tours available, offering lunch, dinner, snorkelling, fishing, etc. The cheaper options will be with locals for 10 dollars, while other companies will offer you tours for 20 dollars or plus.
The best option is to go around and ask, as the offer will be different depending on the time of the year.
Check out the other bay (M’Pai Bay or Saracen Bay)
The two main bays on Koh Rong Sanloem are M’Pai Bay and Saracen Bay. M’Pai Bay is a bit more authentic, cheaper, and also a bit more into drinking and partying (quite the backpacker spot). Saracen is a little bit more expensive, with a more “resort” atmosphere and facilities.
However both bays have a lot to offer, and new places to check out, and beaches you can reach. Take a taxi boat in the morning (5$ per person, per way), go explore, and come back in the evening!
Swim with bioluminescent plankton
Koh Rong Samloem host bioluminescent plankton all around the island, all year long. It is a wonderful experience to go swim and light up the water!
Light is created by the plankton, when there is movement, so you would not see it from the beach, but need to get in the water and see it happening.
To see it, you need as little light pollution as possible. Any light around, even the moon, might ruin the experience. Find a beach away from light (such as the end of M’Pai Bay for example), avoid a night of big/full moon as it will be very bright, and go there when it is completely dark (2-3 am is the best time). Then, go for a swim and admire the water all around you sparkle!
Where to stay
The Cliff Hostel
Cliff Hostel is a super chilled out place, at the top of a cliff (obviously). They have a big sundeck, which is probably one of the best spot for watching the sunset. A big flight of steps gets you down to the sea, where you can snorkel all you want. They have dormitories, as well as private rooms. It is quiet as away from the village, but it only takes 10 minutes to walk down, so you get the best of both.
If you want to party, this is the place. You won’t sleep much, and you will drink a lot. They have a great set up, a great atmosphere and are well located, with direct access to the beach.
Check out some of these places on booking.com below
Where to eat (M’Phai Bay)
The Best Breakfast on Koh Rong is at The Sea Pony
Breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day, and we kept being disappointed. Not enough food, expensive or just not very tasty… until we found The Sea Pony.
This hostel is hidden away in the village, and offer a all day breakfast menu, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. And they make their own bread! Everything is really affordable and this will probably fill you up for lunch too. This was the best breakfast we had in Koh Rong, but also the best we had in all Cambodia.
Fresh fish and Khmer food at the local restaurant of Khuntea and Hadrien: Khuntea Khmer Kitchen
This little restaurant has a very traditional set up: open kitchen and plastic chairs in the sand, you will get a warm welcome from Khuntea and Hadrien. They offer a small menu, which changes with the fish they get from the market, with high quality ingredients, and using local recipes. After the second dinner we had there (they had
You won’t find it on Google, so walk all the way up the main street (continuity of the pier) where you will pass establishments such as Two Ducks, then Yule at the very top of the road. Khuntea and Hadrien’s place is next, on the left.
The Hornbill Guesthouse
One morning, we got breakfast at The Hornbill Guesthouse. We got a really warm welcome by the staff, and felt like we were meeting some friends.
There was no menu, but we were offered some pancakes (made on the spot) with a choice of toppings, and some healthy muesli/fruits/yogurt for the gluten-free one. We also had some great coffees to go with that.
It was delicious, fresh, and served in such a chilled out and friendly atmosphere. They’ve got some cool swings and a lot of board games.
The Sultan’s Kitchen
You won’t find it on Google because it only opened quite recently. There are only two tables in the sand with an open kitchen, the green lights and the music create a great atmosphere.
On the menu you’ll find skewers, kebabs, hummus and the like, absolutely delicious. It isn’t cheap, but you will enjoy yourself, and you certainly won’t go hungry after that!
Sorry we got no pictures, we got way into our food!
Travel tips on the island
No ATM and only cash accepted!
Before you get to the island, be aware that there is no ATM, and pretty much nobody on the whole island has a credit/debit card terminal, so you better get plenty of cash before arriving.
If you didn’t know and it’s too late, or if you run out of cash while there, check out this article about how to get cash on Koh Rong Sanloem, there is always a way!
All saved in one map
Check out the map below where we saved all of the above recommendations. You can save it in your Google maps and use it later on!
Let us know in the comments if that helped!