As you may have gathered from my travel itinerary over the last few months I’m a complete sucker for island life.

Some backpackers like to explore cities, some like to hike – I on the other hand love kicking back on the beach and doing…well…absolutely sod all!

And with Cambodia being my favourite country in Asia so far it is bound to have it’s fair slice of beach life to appease the surfer side of me and despite not having any waves this slice of laid back luxury comes in the form of Koh Rong Island.


Getting There

Getting to Koh Rong itself is pretty easy, albeit quite time consuming.

koh rong island cambodia south east asia

Island Paradise – Just Off The South Coast

There are 3 main places you’ll probably be heading there from – Siem Reap, Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville.

From Siem Reap (which if you’ve overlanded from Bangkok will be your first stop in Cambodia) it’s a case of enduring the sleeper bus for 9 hours to Sihanoukville – try and get the ‘hotel bus’ and a direct one at that if possible. It’ll set you back around $17.

From Phnom Penh you cut down the time slightly to a 5-6 hour mini bus trip to Sihanoukville and cost around $8 – or if you fancy some flash packing or have a good sized group you can grab a taxi or mini bus for around $45.

Once you’ve made it in one piece to Sihanoukville you need to negotiate the tuk tuk drivers and get to the jetty, grabbing your ferry ticket en route. If you’re awake enough to barter you can get the journey for about $6 and split it between 5 backpackers if you’re lucky!

I opted to grab the cheaper ferry via Koh Rong Dive Centre (who I will straight out suggest you don’t dive with though as my experience with them was nothing short of dangerous and unprofessional) to the island which will set you back $5 each way and you might as well buy a return as it’s open dated…you’ll probably spend longer than you first intended anyway!


stray asia travel passes epic gap year


Luxury Living, Backpacker Budget

The one draw back about being on an island is they tend to come with a hefty price tag. Koh Rong though keeps on track with the Cambodian budget.

koh rong island cambodia monkey island hostel

Not A Bad Place To Sleep

Once you’re on the island there’s a variety of accommodation options with a sea view dorm with fan for around $3.

A short walk along the beach and you can up your standard of accommodation and also style – with my personal preference being Monkey Island where you can get a private beach side bungalow for $20 per night, which can comfortably sleep 3 people. The great thing about this hostel is it’s right on the ocean and has an amazing restaurant/ chill out shack, so if you want to kick back with good food, good cocktails and good vibes it’s the perfect spot to base yourself.

For those wanting something a bit more interesting there’s even a treehouse resort where you can kip 20 foot in the air in your own private treehouse shack for about $35.

When it comes to eating a good size western meal will set you back around $3-4, a tasty local khmer dish will be a bit cheaper although places to eat on the island are pretty limited.

And of course kicking back on the beach wouldn’t be complete without an ice cold beer or cocktail in hand – expect a can of Klang to set you back around $1 and a cocktail $3 – the Monkey Island happy hour is 241 though from 6-9pm if you want more bang for your buck.


Island Life, Island Time

koh rong island cambodia monkey island hostel

Kick Back, Relax And Enjoy The View

One of the biggest draws of Koh Rong for me given the fact I’m a tech addict is the lack of electricity – it’s like a forced detox from modern day life!

The island is generator and solar powered, meaning there is only really solid electricity from 5:30pm until midnight in most places. So pack away your laptop and smartphone, hit the beach and enjoy the downtime and quiet!

That general laid back vibe oozes across the whole places – lazy hammock days, snorkelling and swimming in the sea is the order of the day. Top up your tan, read a book – or simply enjoy doing nothing!

In the evening cocktails and beers are in full force, with reggae tunes and a social atmosphere at the few rag tag beach shack bars.

By midnight you’re either heading to bed after a relaxing evening or stripping down for some skinny dipping carnage if the mojitos have been flowing!

Koh Rong really does run on island time.

If you want a break, a different side of Cambodia, or simply to escape the hustle and bustle of life backpacking Asia for a few days then pencil it in – just don’t pencil in a return date because it’s hard work doing nothing and you might want to stay a little longer than planned…!

And if you want more info on how much to budget for Cambodia check out this post.


Have you been to Koh Rong – what did you think of it? Any recommendations on places to stay or thing to do?


koh rong island cambodia water buffalo

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51 Responses

  1. ajai

    Thank you for your great insight into Cambodia. I like to express my sincere gratitude for all the info’s you are sharing. my fav Asian country is Maldives btw..please check out this website on converse backpacks. if you are into travel gears.

    • Chris

      awwwww gutted Tammy! I’ve just left Cambodia actually, spent 4 days exploring Phnom Penh which was good fun! Maybe next time hey!?

  2. Inahas Lina

    Bumped into your site while browsing about Koh Rong. Thank you so much for the valuable info! enjoy browsing your site!

  3. Justin

    This place sounds perfect! May I ask where you flew from and how you found booked the accommodation please?

    • Chris

      It is Justin!
      I actually went overland from Bangkok (although you can fly into Phnom Pehn or Siem Reap and do the overnight bus to Sihanoukville before grabbing the ferry) accommodation wise I booked it on the ground in Siem Reap, but you can also book it direct through the Monkey Island website.

  4. Justin

    Thanks Chris,
    Is it fairly easy to book on the ground? I’m hoping to fly in via Phnom Penh in July.

    Also are the day trips etc from the Island?

    • Chris

      Yeah pretty easy to book most stuff on the ground – and 9/10 times you can sort it at the same price through your hostel/hotel/guest house too. Day trip wise from the island you can do diving and snorkelling trips, it’s just a nice place to kick back and relax on though!

  5. Steve

    Typical backpacker vermin! Probably haven’t washed in months, and trying to tell us to go into the jungle!


  6. Dan

    Great post mate. I am currently in Thailand and heading to the islands in a few weeks, but only have 4 weeks away from teaching (in Thailand) would you recommend sacrificing some of the Thai islands to go to Koh Rong? If not I will have to wait until Feb to visit and I don’t know if I can wait that long. As people say, it’s changing so get there fast!

    • Chris

      Hmmmm…that’s a tough one! I really enjoy Phi Phi and Koh Tao in Thailand but Koh Rong is such an amazing place to kick back and relax on. If you have 4 weeks maybe bounce around Cambodia for a bit and fit the KR in too? Somewhere different to explore given Thailand is on your doorstep all the time!

  7. Jessica

    Sitting at the airport to continue my world tour…Cambodia bound. I must admit I am clueless about the country but that’s how my travelling for the past 8 months has been, each day at a time. Great blog, now sitting here getting giddy. I thought Borneo was beautiful and relaxing and now this island sounds ideal, especially after 2 months working with crazy husky dogs in the Yukon.
    Thanks for taking the time, great positive attitude. All the best and safe travels.

  8. adam

    Hi Chris
    Cheers for taking the time to give such valuable info .. just sat on beach next to jeti in sehanoukville and tapped into here.. was leaving for phenom Penh tomorrrow … You have actually changed my mind .. will be buying my return boat trip after finishing my beer .. cool .
    Much appreciated.
    All the best

  9. Triston

    I have been recommended this place by another world traveller friend of mine, but there is one hitch:

    I am a journalist and I need to work on my laptop at least for a few hours every day. Is there NO electricity/WI-Fi there or are there a few reliable places there that I can work?

    • Chris

      Hi Triston,

      I went back again last year and the electricity and wifi situation where a bit more stable. As a blogger I had to do the same on both occasions so it’s certainly achievable!

  10. Katherine

    Hey Chris,

    My boyfriend & I are thinking of taking 2 weeks (poss 2 1/2 – 3 weeks if we can get the time off work!) and heading to Cambodia.
    What are your recommendations in the short amount of time?
    We’ve done Thailand before and loved Chaing Mai for the chilled vibe but also Phi Phi and Koh Tao.
    Amazing blog btw!

    • Chris

      Hey Katherine, stoked you’re liking the blog!
      In that time period I’d say Siem Reap, Koh Rong, Kep/Kampot and Phnom Pehn are the main spot to hit up if you get the full 3 weeks – if it’s closer to 2 I’d say Siem Reap, Koh Rong and Phnom Pehn. Those options give you temples, cities and island life, so a solid cross section of everything! Let me know how you get on!

  11. Fran

    Hi Great, read. I was wondering how bad the sand fly situation is on Koh Rong, did you find them a menice or didnt notice them at all? I’ll be heading there mid Feb.

    • Chris

      Hey Fran,
      To be honest I didn’t really notice anything or realise they were an issue! I guess that might depend on the time of year you’re heading out there – I’ve always ventured to Koh Rong later in the year

  12. AJ

    I am planning to go there, I as one is a beach/island lover! I love how peaceful it is at day time, but would like to know if the whole island would be very quite or very ”chill” during night time? What I mean is, is it like Tonsai, Krabi? Have you been there? I love the place but too laid back for me. Too chill. Is Koh Rong similar? Cheers!

    • Chris

      Hey AJ,
      Depending on where you stay Koh Rong has a fun nightlife, although no where near as chaotic as place like Phi Phi, Tao or Koh Phangan. Monkey Island was always good fun in the evening but I wouldn’t go there expecting to do pub crawls or anything like that!

  13. Luuk Reinalda

    Still a quiet cheap paradise?? Planning on going there this summer.

  14. Hafiz Noor

    Hey Chris,

    I’m planning to do Cambodia this Aug, I’ve detailed out my itinerary but met a friend in Chiang Mai and he told me about Koh Rong. At 1st I thought of doing Koh Ta Kiev for my last leg in Cambodia before heading to Saigon. But now I’m having reservations whether to do a more mild manner, serene Koh Ta Kiev or more a party atmosphere Koh Rong . Im in my late 20s, love partying too but I envision having a relaxing moment during my final days in Cambodia before heading to Saigon. Btw is Koh Rong cheaper than Koh Ta Kiev, for drinks I’ll probably buy a bottle of vodka from sihaknouville.


    • Chris

      Hey Hafiz,
      To be honest you can find party or relaxation on Koh Rong – I spent my days there lazing in the sun and kicking back on island time. Sure the party is there if you want it but you can also avoid it and chill out! I haven’t actually explored Koh Ta Kiev so unfortunately I cant compare them!

  15. Luuk Reinalda

    Haha love that word ‘heaps’, find myself using it now and then after reading your blog ;). Got any advice on where to stay? The reviews are all very contradicting…

  16. Helen

    Hi. My partner and I are heading to Cambodia in Nov for 2 weeks. I am thinking of doing the following does it sound possible to you? 2nights Bangkok then fly to Phom Penn 2 nights Phom Penn 4 Nights Sihanoukville 4 nights Kaoh Rong 2 nights Siem Reap then fly Siem Reap to Bangkok 1 night Bangkok fly home. Will it be possible to do all this via busses etc? Thanks

    • Chris

      Hey Helen,
      Shouldn’t be too much of an issue if you do night buses, so you may have to cut a couple nights down to accommodate those…

  17. marilyn

    Hey. Thanks for the info! Great read. Question. Solo female going towards that way in November. Do u suggest I book a place ahead of time or I’ll be fine and find something when I get there to the islands?

    • Chris

      Hey Marilyn,
      Stoked to hear you’re heading that way, I’m going back soon too! I’d book ahead of time if you have a particular place in mind to avoid it being booked out!

  18. sara

    hi chris,
    by chance do you remember the name of the cheap accomodation at koh rong for 3$?
    I am travelling with my dad, probably from Siem Reap :)

    • Chris

      Unfortunately I don’t off hand Sara – let me know if you discover it though and I’ll add it in! Mad Monkey have just opened up a place there too so check that out, I think dorms are around $7 per night

  19. Winry

    Hello there! Thanks for the info :)By the way is the night bus ride safe or even the place? We are planning to go there after Siem Reap. We are a little bit worried because we are young travellers.

    • Chris

      Hey Winry,
      The bus down from Siem Reap was no worries at all, if you’re travelling together ask for a bunk together – most hostels can easily arrange this for you! Enjoy!


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