Probably the most popular of the islands, Koh Rong is also the most developed. But thankfully there are still uncrowded stretches of white sand beaches to discover, like the pristine Long Beach. If you’re looking for some action though, Koh Touch Beach has earned itself somewhat of a party reputation. There are also plenty of companies hawking water sports activities like diving, snorkeling, and kayaking there, as well as bicycle rentals.
Foodwise, there are various bars and restaurants serving both traditional Khmer dishes (try Chai Family Restaurant, the Moon, or Elephant Guesthouse) and Western food—for Italian try Enocafe, Da Matti?, or Treehouse Bungalow, get burgers at Koh Lanta, and vegan and vegetarian food at the Rising Sun. Sea and Lake or Sigi’s offer solid Thai food. If you’re looking to sample Koh Rong’s nightlife, check out Nest Beach Club, Skybar, Vagabonds, and Monkey Island. The island’s very first bar, Dragon Den Pub, is still going strong.
When you’re ready to get some shut-eye, there are plenty of options at various price points. Most of the hostels are concentrated in Koh Touch, but there are lots of beach huts and resorts along the rest of the island. For budget hostels between $5 and $30, we recommend Sunflower Guest House, Unicorn Guesthouse, and Coconut Beach Bungalows. If you can splurge a bit ($100 to $200), Sweet Dreams Koh Rong, Tamu Koh Rong, and Long Set Resort are well worth it. If you can splurge a lot (like $500 and up), the Royal Sands Koh Rong is a full-service resort with oceanfront villas.
Koh Rong Samloem
Koh Rong’s sister island is smaller, quieter, and less developed. Most of the infrastructure is concentrated on sunny Saracen Bay, thanks to its sparkling white sand beaches. Best of all, snorkeling is stellar here, and the waters sparkle at night when millions of bioluminescent plankton illuminate the water. You can also see some waterfalls and mangroves on the northern end of the island, and there is an old lighthouse on the southern end.
Get breakfast at Seapony Bungalow Café and Sara Restaurant has a good reputation for Western and Khmer food with a view.
The best upscale accommodations have a small number of bungalows (some of which are quite modern) and include Sweet Dreams Samloem, Sara Resort, Pipes Resort, and Secret Paradise Resort. More affordable non-hostel hotels include Cita Resort, Moonlight Resort, and GreenBlue Resort, while Longvek Hostel and Easy Tiger Bungalows are very cheap (about $10).
Koh Ta Kiev
There are ambitious resort plans for the northern part of this island, which has been leased by a French company who also lease part of Koh Russey (and have already opened a resort there—see below), and construction is already underway. A Chinese Malaysian firm also leased a large swath of land and have built a road that unfortunately cuts through the lush jungle. But for now, there are three yellow sand beaches that are mostly untouched, with just a few budget accommodations. Be sure to bring everything you might need because there are no ATMs here and you won’t be able to buy much once on the island (think sunscreen, beach towels, bug repellent, and shampoo). And don’t expect much in the way of electricity or WiFi—this is definitely the place to unplug.
Bird watchers will enjoy spotting the more than 150 species that fly around the island and rare orchids and carnivorous pitcher plants can also be found here. There are a few paths marked in the jungle and one will take you to a small fishing village where you can buy a freshly caught fish or crab lunch, while another takes you to Naked Beach on the south side of the island. There are a couple of places to rent a kayak and most guesthouses have snorkel gear. Or rent a boat to Elephant Rock and jump from the top of a 26-foot tall cliff at sunset. Then go for a night swim among bioluminescent plankton.
For the ultimate nature experience, bring or rent a hammock or tent and set up camp near one of the resorts (be sure to ask first). Otherwise, accommodations are limited to a few bungalows and beach shacks: Koh Ta Kiev Bungalows, Ten103 Treehouse Bay, Crusoe Island, Kactus, and the Last Point.
Part of Ream National Park, this unspoiled island of 15 square miles is only home to a small fishing village of about 200 people and a few small bungalows. However, the government allowed foreign companies to purchase long leases of several parts of the park in 2010, so expect resorts to arrive here soon—and possibly a bridge to the mainland.
When you dock at the pier there’s a beach filled with iridescent seashells and the eastern beach has golden sand. There are several mangrove forests and tons of bird species, as well as a few endangered animal species like the brahminy kite, fishing cat, and wetland feline. There are several marked trails through the jungle and the center of the island has two peaks on it. There are some local guides offering cheap (about $10) tours of the island and there are also bikes for rent. Like Koh Ta Kiev, you won’t be able to buy anything here and there is no WiFi or much electricity.
Currently, the only place to spend the night on the island is the Koh Thmei Resort, which has a private beach and garden along with simple but clean bungalows that use solar energy for electricity.