Sihanoukville And the Cambodian Islands
We took quite a while to decide where we wanted to stay in Sihanoukville. Should we stay on the coast or go to one of the Cambodian islands? And if yes, which of the many islands should we visit?
We eventually came to the following conclusion:
- If you want to party without spending that much money, you may stay in Sihanoukville. Sihanoukville is not very beautiful, but it’s full of cheap bars (and seemingly full of cheap sex, as well). If you want to stay here, do yourself a favor and at least don’t stay at Serendipity Beach. Otres Beach II, a little out of town, is much nicer.
- If you’re up for party, but also want a decent beach, Koh Rong is the place for you.
- If you like quiet beaches, nature and a relaxed hippie feeling, you should go to Koh Rong Sanloem.
- If you are heavily into smoking weed, you’ll find good company on Koh Ta Kiev.
We were up for a relaxed nature experience, so we decided to go to Koh Rong Sanloem.
Relaxing on Koh Rong Sanloem
After checking the reviews on Booking.com, we decided to stay at Sleeping Trees Hotel on Koh Rong Sanloem. The hotel offers bungalows ($49), large tipis ($29) or its signature tents that are hanging between the trees ($19). I’d recommend booking the tipis, as they offer the best price-comfort-ratio.
Sleeping Trees is located at Sunset Beach, one of the peaceful bays on Koh Rong Sanloem. You can get there with the Buva Sea Speedboat ($25 retour) or with any of the boats that go to Saracen Bay on the other side of the island ($20++ retour). If you land in Saracen Bay, you have to hike 25 minutes through the jungle to get to the resort. While the hike is pretty cool – you see lots of lizards, birds, and monkeys – I would not recommend doing it with a large backpack.
On Sunset Beach itself, life is very relaxed. There’s just a bunch of resorts on a beautiful beach, nothing less or more. (Cold) water in the showers comes from recycled rainwater, and you have to walk all the way back to Saracen Bay to find Wifi.
We spent our days mostly chilling on the beach with a good book. You can also take snorkels (free) to go snorkeling at the coral reef just off the coast. The reef is full of beautiful, colorful fishes, corals, colour-changing octopusses and other sealife. One of the fishes even fell in love with my bathing shorts and followed me for 150m until I got back on the beach. 🙂
If you’re up for games, you can also play pool billard, table tennis, boule, or beach volleyball. The evening on Sunset Beach is – surprise – all about the amazing sunset. There are even tourist boats from Koh Rong who come just to see the sunset and have a couple of drinks at the bar.
Most of the resorts on Sunset Beach are run by Frenchmen. The staff at Sleeping Trees is just as laid-back as the entire place itself and helps to keep up the friendly hippie atmosphere. In the evening, you can join a Family Dinner ($5-6) with staff and other backpackers, or you can eat à la carte. I can warmly recommend the salted crêpes with cheese and bacon. 🙂
Overall, we enjoyed our stay so much that we prolongued for one additional night.
Jungle Rave and Other Koh Rong Sanloem Beaches
While walking through Koh Rong Sanloem’s jungle, we discovered that there’s a Jungle Rave every two weeks at full moon and new moon. Unfortunately, we missed it by a couple of days, but it seems to be a unique experience. You can find the dates for the rave here: Jungle Rave on Facebook.
We also checked out some of the other beaches. Lazy Beach, M’Pay, Clearwater Bay and all the other secluded bays seem to offer a similar experience to Sunset Beach. The only exception on the island is Saracen Bay, the largest and best developed beach. The Chinese recently bought the area, and they have already begun chopping down 150m deep into the rainforest to build an armada of bungalows and Chinese-style hotels.
I would definitely recommend staying at one of the other beaches – if you can, at Sunset Beach. Enjoy your island escape!