Hello fellow travelers! My name is Marine and welcome to my travel guide on Koh Rong Samloem – a beautiful island in Cambodia. I’m 26 and come from France. With my boyfriend, Anthony, we took our backpacks last September to discover the world! I didn’t have the opportunity to travel much when I was young, so this trip that I’m on is a dream come true.
In the past, I could only travel through the stories of my father who explored Europe. As a teenager, I promised myself to set foot on every continent before starting my own family. In 2020, when the pandemic hit, we had our freedom snatched from us, and in December of that same year my father passed away. I understood then that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed and you need to make the most of life while you still can.
When I met Anthony, just after the death of my father, we had exactly the same dream. A year and a half later, we gave it life. We left France in September of 2022 for a 20 month trip around our dear planet. We really wanted to travel across Asia by land. In fact, we ended up doing the classic journey: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and then returned to Thailand.
We heard a lot about the temples of Angkor Wat and the kindness of the Cambodian people, and so these things essentially motivated us to visit – and it turned out to be a fantastic experience! Both my boyfriend and I were touched by the friendliness and smiles of the Cambodian locals.
In this country we visited Phnom Penh, Koh Rong Samloem (spending one night in Sihanoukville, which isn’t recommended), and then set sail for Siem Reap and finally Battambang. In total, we spent just 15 days in Cambodia. Unfortunately, we were a bit short on time so we didn’t get the chance to go to places like Kampot or Kep – which we would have loved.
Five Great Days in Koh Rong Samloem
After much research, we chose to go to Koh Rong Samloem. We considered Koh Rong but our decision went to Samloem for its more natural character. We linked up with another couple of travelers who we met in Laos to celebrate the New Year and to stay for five days. We developed a real crush on this island, with its human scale and no vehicles. The water is warm, turquoise, and so clear that you can see endless colorful fish and corals.
Our favorite place on Koh Rong Samloem was Sunset Beach. To get there you have to walk a good thirty minutes through the forest. You literally have to cross the island’s width. You then arrive on a long beach with some shaded zones, which is perfect for protecting yourself from the sun. There are a few huts where you can eat but they don’t distort the landscape.
The beach is calm, the water is beautiful and the sunsets (as the name suggests) are stunning. At night, when the restaurants close, you can see plankton glistening in the water. It’s an incredible feeling having this light show around you. The sky on Sunset Beach is not as polluted as the mainland as well. You can easily observe the stars before crossing the forest again (you need a headlamp though because the path back is perilous).
Best Things To Do in Koh Rong Samloem
- Go Snorkeling
- Observe the planktons at night
- Visit the viewpoint near Military Beach
- Disconnect from the world and bathe in the sun
- Taste fresh fish that is served at the island’s restaurants
- Stroll across the island to discover the best beaches (our favorites were Sunset Beach and Lazy Beach).
Staying at Samloem Laguna Resort
We stayed at Samloem Laguna Resort which offers great value for money for backpackers on a budget. It’s a bit far from the main beach, but the room has a nice view of the sea from a balcony and a large window. The restaurant also offers cheap dishes while being extremely tasty!
However, we spent all our evenings with our friends at Onederz on the main beach. This is a hostel that has dorms and rooms. It’s also good value for money – as it’s conveniently located on the main beach, next to superettes and the path to the island’s other side. There are several games (billiards, football table, etc.), a bar and the atmosphere is cool!
How to Get to Koh Rong Samloem
You can easily reach Koh Rong Samloem from Cambodian cities like Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. Various travel agencies offer a combo (bus + ferry ticket) that is more financially advantageous than if you buy a bus ticket and then a ferry ticket separately. We thought we were saving money by buying an individual bus and ferry ticket, but we turned out to be wrong.
We took a bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, then the next day a ferry from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem. The city of Sihanouk was very displeasing for us for several reasons. Therefore, we highly recommend taking the $34 combo ticket from Phnom Penh while you have the chance.
How Cheap is Koh Rong Samloem?
Our five day stay cost us $367 for two people or $183.5 each. This included accommodation at the slightly increased price for the holiday season, food and the cost of the ferry. Once on the island, we spent very little since we only wanted to do free activities: hiking, snorkeling, swimming, idleness, seeing the plankton, etc. We didn’t need to book any excursions or other tours. This was perfect for our mini backpacker budget!
What You Need to Know Before Coming
- The cell phone network on the island isn’t very good, so just take the opportunity to disconnect.
- It’s better to book accommodation in advance to benefit from the greatest choice, at the best price.
- There is no ATM on the island and restaurants generally charge a 3% fee if you pay by credit card, except at Onederz which is free.
- Koh Rong Samloem lends itself to snorkeling – you can bring your own equipment or rent some at one of the two mini-markets on the island.
- Double check where your ferry drops you off. If your accommodation is far away, you may need to take a taxi-boat. There are no vehicles here.