Our destinations,  South East Asia

A Guide to the Koh Rong Islands

The Cambodian islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem are extremely popular destinations with tourists from all over the world. People from as close as South Korea and as far as Canada flock to see the beautiful beaches. We visited in February/March 2022, the weather was amazing and the beaches were even better! This post will provide you with everything you need to know to visit the Koh Rong Islands.

Disclaimer: Some of the links included on our website may contain affiliate links. We may receive some commission from purchases made via these but it will NOT affect the price you pay. This is to allow this site to stay online and ensure that readers use, what we believe, are the best products possible whilst travelling.

Is Cambodia Open For Travel? 

The short answer is yes. 

At the time of writing (April 2022), Cambodia is open for tourism and is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. 

If you’re fully vaccinated, you only need to present your proof of vaccination to enter Cambodia. If you’re not fully vaccinated, however, you must quarantine at a hotel arranged by the Cambodian government OR at a pre-booked hotel. 

We’d recommend checking out Cambodia’s official covid-19 entry requirements for more information.

Getting a Cambodian visa 

There are two ways of getting a Cambodia visa; before entry or on arrival.

You can apply for a Cambodian visa via the Cambodian government’s website. A visa costs $30 plus a $6 processing fee per visa; it takes between three and seven days for your application to be processed.

The Cambodian government has also reinstalled the Visa On Arrival service for all international travellers. However, foreign nationals are not guaranteed a visa on arrival as the government reserves the right to deny entry to individuals that do not meet all the Cambodian visa requirements.

Check out our 13 Top Tips for Travelling Cambodia in 2022 for more information on getting a Cambodian visa in both instances.  

Top Tips for visiting the Koh Rong Islands

Cash is King

  • As you’ll know from our 13 Top Tips for Travelling Cambodia in 2022, these islands have no ATMs so before visiting, make sure to have enough cash to last your whole stay. This includes cash for accommodation as well as for food and activities. 
  • If you’re planning on visiting the islands for around a week, make sure to bring at least 1.3 million Riel per person; with this, don’t keep your money all in one place in case the worst happens.

Never leave your belongings unattended

  • It sounds stupid but people do this more often than you think. We found this particularly common on Koh Rong. 
  • It is common for locals to wait in the bushes whilst westerners leave their belongings on the beach. If they don’t take all of your personal items, they’ll definitely take your phone. 
  • What makes this amusing is that the village on Koh Rong has a shop where you can buy second-hand phones. However, these are just phones that have recently been stolen where they’re wiped before being re-sold.
  • It’d be wise never to put yourself in this situation so make sure to never leave your belongings unattended. 

Be prepared for power cuts

  • Given the lack of modern technology on the islands, all the electricity is run by a few (sometimes singular) generators on the islands. As a result, power cuts often occur and can last anywhere between a minute and half an hour. 

How to get to the Koh Rong Islands

Before embarking on our trip to the islands, we really had no idea how to get there as all of the information online was quite outdated. Thankfully, we ended up bumping into other travellers who’d already visited the islands and confirmed the information with the hostels.

As the Koh Rong islands are a very popular destination in Cambodia and due to the difficulty in getting there, we’ve dedicated a whole separate post on How to visit Koh Rong & Koh Rong Sanloem.

Best time to visit the Koh Rong Islands: January/February 

When we visited in February, we found it to be the ideal time as the temperature was bearable (around 30C) and no way near as hot as it could get up to 40C (or more in April and May. 

We didn’t visit in the rainy season so it rarely rained and if it did, it was only for five minutes. It is worth noting that mosquitos are notoriously bad during the rainy season so visiting in January/February will mean you escape the worst; however, they’re still incredibly annoying. But we know that anytime between November and April will absolutely suffice and you’ll have an amazing time! 

Recommended stay: 3-10 days

Now, this entirely depends on how long you’re staying in Cambodia and what you’re looking for out of your trip. If you’re visiting Cambodia for two weeks, we’d recommend staying between three and five days. This will allow you to get some experience of how amazing Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem are. 

However, in order to fully appreciate the beauty of the Koh Rong islands, we’d recommend staying for about seven days. Obviously, if you love sitting by the sea reading a book (sounds good doesn’t it?) and have the time, you can also spend up to 10 days here. 

We ended up staying about 10 days on the islands and whilst we definitely enjoyed ourselves, we did reach the point of wanting to be back on the mainland; this was mainly down to the limited food choices and too much drinking! 

Within these 10 days, we spent six of these at Nest Hostel on Koh Rong which was FAR too long. We’d recommend about three or four days here unless you like to party; in which case you can spend as long as you want here! 

On Koh Rong Sanloem, we spent a day and a half at Mad Monkey Hostel before heading to Onerderz. Given the lack of any WiFi/signal at Mad Monkey, we’d recommend staying one day here as that’s plenty of time. Conversely, we found two days at Onederz Hostel, on Saracen Bay, was the perfect amount of time. 

If you’re unsure about how long to spend in Cambodia, why not check out our Perfect Two Weeks in Cambodia or our Perfect Month Itinerary in Cambodia?

Where to stay in Koh Rong

Nest Beach Club Hostel

Nest Beach Club is literally the only hostel on the island and there isn’t anywhere else you want to be. As a result, the hostel gets booked up quite quickly so make sure to book in advance to secure a bed. However, definitely try to visit over a weekend as the hostel hosts “Nestival” every Saturday. We personally found the night before was a more enjoyable night and we met some really nice people. Having said that, pretty much every night there is a DJ on so there is always some music playing. 

Nest have essentially two types of dorm rooms; a single or double bed. We ended up staying in the double bed because it worked out cheaper for us (30,500 Riel pp, per night); unfortunately, this meant being quite hot all night as there were just two fans and no A/C in the room. Both types of dorms have adjoining toilets and shower facilities and it’s safe to say they’re not the best. Even though people can look into the cubicles due to the angle of the slats, it’s not very reassuring. I ended up using the shower-only facilities opposite the kitchen as it felt more like a proper shower. Regrettably, hot showers are also very rare so if you’re staying for some period, I hope you like cold water! 

The other noteworthy thing is the food. We’ll be honest, the food at Nest was overpriced, poor quality and took AGES to come; understandably this put a bit of a downer on our stay here. However, by the looks of their Instagram, Nest has hired a new chef which has led to the food looking a lot more appealing.

Despite the obvious negatives, we’d still absolutely recommend staying here; it was great fun and we met loads of people, even if the accommodation isn’t the best. 

BeachWalk Hotel

BeachWalk Hotel is a really really beautiful hotel situated at the north end of Kaoh Touch Beach; basically a mini-resort! Whilst we, didn’t get the chance to look inside the rooms, you can get a sneak peek via Booking.com; from the outside, they looked like very upmarket beach huts. Regarding the price, it is by far the priciest hotel at around 305,000 Riel per night but you do get what you pay for. 

However, as the pictures will surely demonstrate, the pool is the main attraction. The water was really nice and cool and a great contrast to the heat of Koh Rong. When you’re not in the pool, there are many sun loungers around its perimeter and all with their own umbrella so you don’t burn to a crisp. 

We actually visited this place to escape from Nest and it was an amazing place to relax and chill! If you can afford to stay here, you’ll find no better place. Alternatively, definitely come here for the day as the food is out of this world and very well priced considering.

If neither of these options tickles your fancy, why not check out these options: 

You&Me Resort

While we didn’t stay at this resort, it is one of the highest-rated resorts on the island and is a very reasonable price. If you are after that resort-style holiday, this might be one to check out.

Where to stay on Koh Rong Sanloem 

Mad Monkey Koh Rong Sanloem

As I’m sure you’re aware, Mad Monkey has a variety of hostels across South-East Asia and Koh Rong Sanloem is no different. Situated on its own private bay, this particular hostel is surrounded by golden sands and azure blue waters. I can assure you it is one of the most beautiful places we’ve stayed in Cambodia. 

As we’ve highlighted in our How to visit Koh Rong & Koh Rong Sanloem guide, you can only access Mad Monkey via longboat which leaves daily from Nest Beach Club and Saracen Bay. Saracen Bay is the main beach on Koh Rong Sanloem. 

Regarding our stay here, we absolutely loved the location; it was faultless and is the perfect place to relax with a book in hand. I say book in hand because there is literally no WiFi or signal whatsoever. Thus, we’d only recommend one or two nights, depending on how easy you can cope without such luxuries. Having said that, we met people who’d been there two weeks and they were loving it; how long you want to stay totally depends on your preferences. 

It is also worth noting the food, which was really good, especially having come from Nest. There is a great selection, from Khmer cuisine to salads and more traditional western food and it’s all really affordable. 

At this hostelonyl, Mad Monkey operates a pretty weird payment system. Essentially, in their attempt to handle less money, you’re required to put money onto a wristband and use that throughout your stay to pay for your accommodation (4,600 Riel pp, per night), food and drink. However, people are constantly handing over money in order ” top up” their wristbands so the same amount of money gets exchanged anyway. Nonetheless, that’s their system and any leftover money on your wristband when you check out is reimbursed to you. 

Furthermore, the dorm rooms themselves are understandably quite basic. They were just two bunk beds in wooden huts with a pretty basic bathroom, although a surprisingly good shower. Whilst it was very nice to have mosquito nets with the beds, this made it incredibly hot at night and was made worse by the existence of two basic fans. We ended up staying in a hut with one other person but rooms at the time were hardly full; there were about 20 of us staying here whilst peak season can apparently lead to over 100 people per night. It can definitely be another party place if you have enough people!  

Onederz Hostel 

In similarity with Nest, if backpackers are visiting Saracen Bay, they’re likely to be staying at Onederz Hostel. It’s also close to a variety of eateries and has a really good comfy workspace for people to relax in. Moreover, it has a pool table and everyone loves a pool table (apart from Alex when I kept beating him). 

We particularly enjoyed our stay here; partly due to the fact we’d come from Mad Monkey so having good WiFi, a range of food and “normal” dorm rooms was very pleasing. The dorm rooms themselves had A/C and were always kept clean, and the showers even had a hint of hot water; what luxury!

Genuinely, if you’re going to stay on Saracen Bay and you’re on a budget, you can’t go wrong with Onerderz Hostel!

Sara Resort

Whilst we, unfortunately, didn’t stay at Sara Resort, we did eat here quite a lot and the restaurant area was very nice. Again, we weren’t able to see the rooms but booking.com shows how nice the rooms look. The resort is slap bang in the middle of Saracen Bay and the perfect base to explore the beach or other amenities. 

Whilst the 22,400 Riel per night is quite steep, this does also include free breakfast for guests; with my appetite, can definitely lead to the price being more affordable. 

What to do on Koh Rong 

Nestival

This “festival” is put on every Saturday by Nest Beach Club. It is essentially just one massive party and people come from all over Cambodia to attend; it really is good fun and it’s a chance for you to meet loads of people from all over the world. In addition, “party games” like a sack race and beach volleyball are set up with prizes for the winning team. 

Beach Volleyball

As per the above, Nest has a beach volleyball net and it is great fun! I personally love doing exercise and can’t sit still for a minute so having this here was absolutely perfect. We also made many friends from just playing with others so it’s a great way to meet people. 

Snorkelling and Fishing Tour 

Organised through Nest, this local boat takes people over to Kaoh Toch island for a day of snorkelling and line fishing. As the tiny island is uninhabited, it is definitely the best place for snorkelling and you get to see some beautiful fishes. Once you’re exhausted, you can relax on the beach before embarking on some fishing where the catch is then cooked and turned into dinner free of charge. The boat/experience does cost $15pp and includes the promise of dinner (no matter if you catch anything or not). Whilst you may think it is quite expensive, it really is worth the experience as there is no better place to snorkel in Cambodia. 

Hiking

As Koh Rong has very few inhabitants and is a small island, it’s the perfect place to explore the uninhabited parts of the island. Hiking is a great way of exploring Cambodia’s beautiful environment and it gives you a chance to properly relax, catch up on a podcast or read your book; all whilst simultaneously giving yourself that much-needed detox. Popular locations include Coconut beach; Lonely beach; Pagoda beach; and Prek Tasok viewpoint. 

Trip to the village

Admittedly, our trip to the village was centred around finding our evening meal. However, the village is a great place to go if you want to book your boat off of the island, although we’d recommend our article above. Other than this, there isn’t really tons for you to do in the village; we mainly found a laundrette. However, it’s definitely a nice place to visit if you want to escape Nest for a day.

Relaxation

As it is arguably one of Cambodia’s most beautiful islands, there is no better place to sunbathe. As a result, potential relaxation activities are endless; if you’ve read our Ultimate Amazon Shopping List then this will be a perfect place to read your Amazon Kindle which is the perfect device if you’re a bookworm or taking reading up whilst travelling. Alternatively, there is always the crystal clear sea just metres away which you can dip into to cool off; water sports are also great fun if you’re travelling in a group/couple. 

What to do on Koh Rong Sanloem

Fishing 

If you’ve never tried fishing or absolutely love it, Sanloem has some great fishing spots to enjoy. Firstly, at the end of the main pier on Saracen Bay, there is a shack where you’re able to rent a fishing rod and bait for around $8.

Whilst you can choose from anywhere on the island/beach, we walked to the north end of Saracen beach towards the fishing village. At this end, there is an unused pier where we decided to set up camp and it turned out to be a really good idea; we found plenty of fish and we were undisturbed for the whole time we were there. Even though I was an absolute novice, it was fun having a go, even if I have. very little patience.

Kayaking

You can hire a kayak for the day for around 25,000 Riel and it’s a really good way of seeing Koh Rong Sanloem’s best bits. Plus, you can row at your own pace and you don’t have to be surrounded by any annoying people; simple bliss! Just remember to make sure your boat is in working order, to put sunscreen on and keep all your belongings in a dry bag in case the worst should happen. 

Sunset Boat Tour

Whilst we didn’t end up doing this, we had planned to rent a boat with some of our friends around to the west side of the island for the sunset. One of the stumbling points was the hiring of the boat which cost around £80. Therefore, in order to get the cost down per person, you needed more people on the boat; we had 10 people willing to go so the price wouldn’t have been bad for a lot of great fun! There wasn’t a particular company or individual that offered this service, you just have to ask around; this absolutely epitomises Cambodia. 

Relaxation 

Exactly the same activities available as Koh Rong but arguably better. For example, the private beach at Mad Monkey is absolutely incredible, so warm and just absolutely stunning; as the pictures will hopefully attest. 

Pier Party

This party is only available at Mad Monkey Hostel and in our opinion, is totally worth experiencing. We were lucky enough to have it happen when we visited as there is no defined schedule. However, given the frequent comings and goings, I would presume it occurs every couple of days as the weather is always so nice.

In order to make the pier party happen, staff will essentially move the bar onto the pier so there is no need to go back to the hostel itself. They also have a huge speaker to play some music whilst you’re relaxing, socialising or doing whatever you wish. To top it off, the pier has diving platforms and swings for you to have great fun with. Moreover, there is no better place to watch the sunset over the island, just beautiful 

Bioluminescent Plankton

From what we’ve heard, the Koh Rong islands are the only place to see this type of plankton in Cambodia. You will also only be able to see this at night and it’s a really really cool phenomenon; just hop on into the water, no matter how deep, and splash your arms about under the surface to watch the plankton glow. It’s really very cool and the water is pleasantly warm also. 

Where to eat & drink on the Koh Rong Islands

BeachWalk Hotel

As the pictures will hopefully attest, the food here was utterly amazing. Given our location, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and immediately wished we’d eaten here more often. In addition, it wasn’t even that expensive; we essentially had two sides, two main meals and two drinks for just £18. In our opinion, you can’t find anywhere better on the island so you HAVE to make sure you visit here. 

White Rose Guesthouse & Restaurant 

White Rose is the place to be. We found that everyone staying at Nest Beach Club would always eat here in the evening. As with a lot of restaurants, they served both western and Khmer food which is why we went back so many times. The prices are really affordable and if you’re craving western food, it’s the place to go. 

N.B. White Rose is located in the main village on Koh Rong (by Koh Rong Community pier) which means a 20-30 minute walk if you’re staying at Nest. However, don’t let this put you off as it’s nice to have a change of scenery and it’s worth trying different food.

Enocafe Coffee & Restaurant

Located further up the alleyway from White Rose, Enocafe’s Italian restaurant is another place to check out. We particularly enjoyed the sandwiches, pizza and pasta whilst their coffee was also very refreshing! Admittedly it is slightly on the more expensive side of Cambodian prices but the food is very tasting and another place to visit if you’ve had enough of Khmer cuisine. 

Nest Beach Club

As we said above, our experience of the food here was pretty poor as it was always a long wait, overpriced and underwhelming. Having said that, the food does look a lot better now the new chef has come in; hopefully, all of the problems we experienced will have disappeared so you can enjoy some amazing food in a beautiful location. 

Mad Monkey Sanloem 

For a remote hostel on a private beach, we didn’t have high hopes. However, we were really surprised by the quality and price of the food, especially as there was literally nowhere else you can eat whilst staying here. We particularly enjoyed the chicken salad and the beer was nice and cheap. 

Sara Resort 

We were SO glad we found Sara Resort on Saracen Bay as we felt the island’s other options were pretty limited; especially with Leah being gluten-free. As a result, we pretty much ate here the whole time we were at Saracen Bay. The breakfast was good portion size, well priced and it has a great range of western food to cure your cravings. The only downside was the portion size on some of the meals; you couldn’t go wrong by getting a burger or pizza and the sausage and mash were amazing, probably as we hadn’t had such a meal in ages. Just be careful if you’re hungry when ordering a pasta dish as you may still be full afterwards. 

Onederz Hostel

Admittedly, we didn’t quite enjoy the restaurant here as the food was quite basic and vastly overpriced. Having said that, the hostel frequently does barbecues and they’re really tasty and a lot better price! Moreover, definitely make sure to visit for Happy Hour (6pm-8pm) as the cocktails are all 2-4-1 and the seating area (and pool table) makes it a great place to relax. 

If you’re thinking of visiting the Koh Rong Islands, make sure to check out our guide on How to get between Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem in 2022. 

To conclude, the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem are 100% worth visiting, no matter how long. These islands are incredibly popular with backpackers and those looking for a relaxing holiday. Despite their relative obscurity in its location, there are lots of activities to occupy your time with and the perfect place to sit back, relax and genuinely feel like you’re on another planet! 

There you have it; our visitors guide to the Koh Rong Islands, giving you all the best places to stay, eat and see BEFORE you visit so you won’t be left disappointed.

Feel free to add any of your own recommendations in the comments!

Follow us! 

Disclaimer: Some of the links included on our website may contain affiliate links. We may receive some commission from purchases made via these but it will NOT affect the price you pay. This is to allow this site to stay online and ensure that readers use, what we believe, are the best products possible whilst travelling.

29 Comments

    • leahtierney14

      Thank you so much Anita. You’ll absolutely love it! Definitely go to Cambodia and the islands of Ko Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao in Thailand.

  • Kate

    The Koh Rong Islands look like paradise! The Beach Walk hotel seems like a gorgrous place to stay and spend time on the beach. Added the Koh Rong Islands to my bucket list!

    • leahtierney14

      They really are Kate and we LOVED Beach Walk! So glad we’ve been able to help and feel free to ask us any questions you may have.

  • Alaina Thomas

    I think kayaking and snorkeling would be the first half of my day and then some beach volleyball and the Nestival would be the second half! Talk about a perfect vacation day.

  • Jenn

    What a beautful place! I had to laugh at your warning against leaving belongings unattended and the stolen phones being sold secondhand – after growing up in a 3rd world toursit country, I can totally see that happening! The Koh Rong islands look like a unique destination.

    • leahtierney14

      Ahah yes! Whilst I completely understand (but don’t agree) it, I’m amazed people are stupid enough to do that.

  • Erin

    Wow, you have some gorgeous photos on here. I would love to stay at the Sara Resort, and enjoy those views. Prices don’t sound too bad. I was surpised that you could get a rod and bait for just 8 bucks. You could enjoy a day fishing and make a meal of it later! Sounds like an ideal trip.

  • Lasma

    Planning a huge trip to Asia and this is exactly what I needed – an updated article with all the necessary tips. Great work, like always!!

    • leahtierney14

      Thank you so much Lasma; pleased we’ve been able to help! Would love to hear about your big Asia trip.

  • Gail

    This looks like a gorgeous place to visit. Walking on the beaches and relaxing would easily eat up most of my days. Your guide is very detailed and helpful! Thank you.

  • Marianne

    The Koh Romg islands are absolutely beautiful. I had never heard of them before, but they look like they should definitely be on my bucket list!

  • Emma

    I love that it seems like you pretty much had the place to yourselves. Such a beautiful spot, and such lovely looking accommodations. I could happily relax here for a few days

  • Kay

    This was incredibly helpful, and I also had no idea that there weren’t any ATMs!! A1 tip right there! I would love to be able to see the bioluminescent plankton

  • yy

    We haven’t been able to visit Cambodia yet, but we are glad we waited because we had no clue about Koh Rong Islands. They look beautiful and we cant wait for all the outdoor activities like snorkeling!

    • leahtierney14

      Snorkelling is amazing; you get to see so many beautiful fish! Definitely make sure to visit, its super easy.

  • Bea Pinnegar

    Cambodia has been on my list for the longest time. Thank you for introducing me to Koh Rong Islands. Added this to my list, hopefully, I get to visit super soon – shall definitely come back to this post for research 🙂

    • leahtierney14

      You should definitely visit Bea; we absolutely loved it in Cambodia and on the Koh Rong Islands. Feel free to drop us a message if you have any questions!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *