Koh Rong Samloem Island 2019

Best Beach Destination in Cambodia

Unspoiled Tropical Island Paradise In The Gulf Of Siam

Koh Rong Samloem is a small tropical island featuring picture perfect white sand beaches fringed by palm and casaurina trees. Inland the rain forest supports a diverse ecology ready to be explored and off shore the coral reefs are teeming with marine life

View of Saracen Bay
Saracen Bay – Koh Rong Samloem

The island is situated eighteen kilometres due west of Sihanoukville, the country’s largest mainland beach resort and is regarded as the premier beach destination in Cambodia. This is in part due to being a peaceful ‘getaway’ destination which is more tranquil and also much less developed than the larger island known as Koh Rong situated about a ten-minute boat ride to the north. Samloem also attracts those searching for pristine white sand beaches with the convenience of less than an hour’s ferry journey to the mainland and high quality accommodation all set amongst stunning ecology including the amazing bio-luminescent plankton that makes the warm waters glow and sparkle at night

Aerial view of the southern end of Saracen Bay
Aerial view of the southern end of Saracen Bay

Samloem’s clean beaches suffer substantially less of the noise and light pollution that has become a problem on both the mainland and Koh Rong island due to the extensive construction work taking place in 2019 as well as the all-night bars and party music that blasts out to attract the budget travelers dancing through the night

Sol Beach Resort and Moonlight Resort on Saracen Bay
Sol Beach Resort and Moonlight Resort on Saracen Bay
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The highest quality accommodation is found on Saracen Bay with a number of small scale resorts typically with around fifteen bungalows and an on-site quality restaurant. These resorts have a high ratio of staff catering to their guests needs. The bay also has a number of medium-priced bungalows for those that do not need air conditioning or access to a swimming pool

The island is being actively protected by the Wonderful Wildlife of Samloem project to maintain the unspoiled natural beauty of the island, keep the pristine beaches clean and minimize the noise and light pollution that impacts the indigenous animal population

Koh Rong Samloem Island Map
Koh Rong Samloem Island Map

Koh Rong Samloem Accommodation

There are now various levels of accommodation available on the island from luxurious air-conditioned Khmer-style villas right on the beach through to the numerous beach bungalow complexes that dot the shoreline of Saracen Bay and Mpay Bay as well as on a few other secluded beaches. The sunset side of the island is much quieter and has a selection of budget and medium priced rooms and bungalows. For those traveling on a tight budget there are guesthouse rooms available in Mpay Bay fishing village

Currently Koh Rong Samloem is trending on social networks and has been recently named by the Huffington Post as one of the
‘Places You Need To See In The Next Decade’

“What the beaches of Thailand were like 20 years ago… utterly serene and beautiful.

Calm, clear water laps lazily on idyllic white sand beaches, and there’s not much else to do but kick back and enjoy the sun, sand and waves.

Word will get out — it always does. So get to these islands before they become overrun with tourists”

– HUFFINGTON POST

bounty boutique hotel on koh rong samloem
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Now that news of the spectacular natural attractions on the island are spreading over the internet and with the growth of the high quality accommodation options right on the beach the island is seeing a large increase in visitors looking for more luxurious waterfront bungalows. This has resulted in many bungalow operations upgrading their facilities differentiating the island from its neighbouring island of Koh Rong which appeals more to the budget conscious all-night partying single travelers

Kayaking on pure turquoise water – Koh Rong Samloem
Kayaking on pure turquoise water – Koh Rong Samloem

There are comfortable bungalows suitable for honeymooners and romantic couples searching for the deserted tropical island experience as well as a growth in accommodation suitable for families with children including resorts that have 24 hour electricity, air conditioning, a swimming pool and family bungalows with multiple rooms

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Experiences in Cambodia

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UNIQUE CAMBODIAN EXPERIENCES

The 2019 high season consists of the period from November through May, which is the usual tourist season for Cambodia, as well as the European holiday season of July and August

Koh Rong Samloem measures approximately nine kilometres long and five kilometres at its widest point although the distance from Saracen Bay on the sunrise side of the island to the sunset side of the island is little more than a pleasant one-kilometre walk through the jungle and boats can be hired for trips around the island to visit the different beaches

Saracen Bay

Koh Rong Samloem Island’s main feature is the white sand enclosed bay named Saracen Bay boasting an unspoiled three-kilometre long beach on which much of the recent high quality development has taken place and is the location of the main boat pier that links the island with mainland. From Saracen Bay there are paths which allow visitors staying in the bay to reach the other beaches on the island and explore the island’s attractions

Panoramic View of Saracen Bay
Panoramic View of Saracen Bay

M’Pay Bay

Mpay Bay is at the north of the island and is now served by boat services from the mainland. It has seen many of the new budget accommodation options from individual bungalows to guest house rooms being built either on or a short walk from the beach. It gets its name from the local fishing community called Village Number 23 as in the Khmer language ‘M’pai Bei’ means twenty-three

Mpay Bay - Koh Rong Samloem
M’Pay Bay – Koh Rong Samloem

The number of boats serving the MPay Bay area of the island has increased rapidly along with the number of accommodation options available in the area and a friendly relaxed atmosphere has grown up around the fishing village with many people choosing to stay longer term

Boat Timetables

Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem

8.00 – 11.00 – 14.00 – 17.00

Koh Rong Samloem to Sihanoukville

7.00 – 9.00 – 12.00 – 15.30 – 16.45

BOOK FERRY TICKETS

Fast Ferry from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem
Fast Ferry from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem

Scuba diving and fishing trips are available from the island and can be arranged through the locals or the bungalow operators. Also there are great places for snorkeling around the island if you tire of lazing on the beach or swimming in the pure turquoise waters

Kayaking, jungle trekking and mountain biking are just some of the organised activities that are offered although the majority of visitors are content to kick back and enjoy the beautiful beaches and amazing views

Aerial view of the northern end of Saracen Bay
Aerial view of the northern end of Saracen Bay

Internet and mobile telephone coverage is available at most places using a local SIM card and the data transfer tends to be quite slow along with the island’s pace of life. It is recommended to buy a Smart SIM card with a data plan for a handful of dollars before leaving for the island in order to get cheap access to the network as this seems to offer the strongest signal and have the greatest coverage although Metfone SIMs also work in some places. An increasing number of bungalow operators are supplying a high speed internet connection although it is currently only available at the more luxurious places as this is expensive for the resort owners

Swing on Saracen Bay
Swing on Saracen Bay
Recliners on the pure sand
Recliners on the pure sand

The Koh Rong Samloem Full Moon Parties have recently been held at the Good Vibz Camp which is located high up in the jungle above and well behind The Beach Island Resort on Saracen Bay although they tend to only take place during the high season. The parties can see an influx of people for the night from both the mainland and Koh Rong plus special Christmas and New Year parties are also held

Boat Pier on Saracen Bay Koh Rong Samloem
Boat Pier on Saracen Bay Koh Rong Samloem

Flights to Koh Rong Samloem

The nearest airport to the island is Sihanoukville airport which is about a 30-minute taxi ride from the mainland pier where the boats to the islands depart from. The cost of a taxi should be around $20 for the twenty kilometre journey. There are currently international flights from Bangkok, Kula Lumpur and China arriving at the airport as well as flights from Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) and Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia

Bangkok – Sihanoukville – Bangkok

Mon / Wed / Fri / Sun

Dep. Bangkok 14.25 – Arr. Sihanoukville 15.50

Mon / Wed / Fri / Sun

Dep. Sihanoukville 16.25 – Arr. Bangkok 17.45

Typically $50 – $100 each way

flights from bangkok to sihanoukville

Kuala Lumpur – Sihanoukville – KL

Every day M.T.W.T.F.S.S

Dep. Kuala Lumpar 12.10 – Arr. Sihanoukville 13.00

Every day M.T.W.T.F.S.S

Dep. Sihanoukville 13.30 – Arr. Kuala Lumpur 14.20

Typically $50 – $100 each way

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Money

There are currently no banks or ATM machines on either Koh Rong Samloem or Koh Rong and credit / debit cards are not widely accepted except at larger resorts so visitors must take US dollar cash with them to pay for food, drink and activities. Business owners appreciate if you can take some small denomination notes as changing large notes can often be problematic

Wide view of Saracen Bay Koh Rong Samloem
Wide view of Saracen Bay Koh Rong Samloem

Samloem, Sanloem or Saloem

In the Cambodian language known as Khmer the word ‘Koh’ means island. There are two main theories behind the word ‘Rong’ with the first being that it was simply someone’s name and the other theory relates to the Cambodian word for ‘cave’. As for ‘Samloem’, while it is the most frequent spelling used, it has no meaning in Khmer whilst ‘Sanloem’ translates in English to ‘far away’ and is seen on some, but certainly not all, official Cambodian maps

koh rong samloem in khmer

So ‘Sanloem’ is probably the correct romanisation of the Khmer text but with the weight of usage ‘Samloem’ is becoming the standard although people and businesses who refer to the island as ‘Koh Rong Saloem’, ‘Koh Rong Sanloem’ as well as various other spellings are still very much present as converting Khmer to romanised script is subjective due to differences in the way consonants are vocalised. That said, picking up a few useful words is simple and often will produce a wide and genuine smile from the warm Cambodian people

The southern tip clad in rain forest of Koh Rong Samloem
The southern tip clad in rain forest of Koh Rong Samloem
koh rong samloem logo

During the high season from December 2019 through to April the best accommodation will be fully booked well in advance as presently demand for beach bungalows is outstripping supply due to the immense popularity of the island on social networks so pre-booking as far in advance as possible is highly recommended