Asia Cambodia

The two sides of Koh Rong

Koh Rong is a Cambodian island located west of Sihanoukville. From Sihanoukville you can take the speed ferry to get to this popular Cambodian island within an hour. We spent a week at Koh Rong, and I loved it as much as I hated it. Here’s why…

Loved: white beaches and crystal clear waters
As soon as the boat arrives at Koh Rong you realize you’re in paradise. Koh Rongs beaches are amongst the whitest beaches I’ve ever seen and the turquoise waters look inviting. The boat arrives at a cute little village with lovely restaurants and bars where the relaxing vibe is pleasantly contagious.

Loved: a tropical island like ‘back in the days’
There are plans to turn Koh Rong into a second Koh Samui (Thailand) with an airport and loads of luxury resorts. But so far mass-tourism and big commercial resorts haven’t found their way to Koh Rong yet, giving you a hint of what the Thai islands must have looked like back in the days. There are no roads on Koh Rong (you walk to your hostel by foot) and most of the accommodation is quite basic. We stayed in a beach bungalow, a treehouse and a jungle bungalow – all little wooden structures with the basic needs: a (bucket) toilet, a cold shower and a bed.

Loved not so much: the big open sewage system
…aka the ocean. Yup, that’s right. Hygienic standards are not very high at Koh Rong, and everything that leaves your body from your bottom ends up in the ocean. When you’re in the main village you can clearly smell the stench, and it also makes you wonder where the tap/shower water comes from. I’ve been told that every 2 out of 3 tourists fall ill at Koh Rong which unfortunately included me and my friends.

Loved not so much: not an awful lot to do
If you love spending your days worshipping the sun until you get a nice, glowy tan then Koh Rong is the place for you. Other than that, there is not an awful lot to do. Since I was ill I spent most of my days in bed, but my friends went canoeing and snorkeling. You could also go on a jungle trek and explore some otimg_0693her pretty beaches but that’s about all the action there is.

Would I recommend going to Koh Rong? Yes, but no longer than three days. Just wander around the beautiful beaches, enjoy a fresh coconut and get up early for the sunrise. I heard Koh Rongs neighboring island Koh Rong Samloem is very pretty as well, so maybe swap islands and spend a couple of days there 🙂 Take care and enjoy!

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  • Hilary

    UGH…. Getting sick is no fun and the sewage issue is no joke. Looks lovely but there are many lovely islands out there that don’t put public health at risk. Thanks so much for a great post. Sorry you fell ill.

    • evelienlangeveld

      Hi Hilary!
      Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog 🙂 It is really too bad it is such a disgusting island, otherwise it would’ve been the perfect paradise!
      Thanks again for dropping by 🙂

  • Cambodia – My trip through the land of The Khmer – Eef Explores

    […] you always read my blogs you know I developed a love/hate relationship with this paticular island (more here). Koh Rong is beautiful but many tourists don’t get to experience it to the fullest because […]

  • How Koh Rong gave me Reactive Arthritis – Eef Explores

    […] stunning island, but looks are deceiving as it is also one of the dirtiest places I have ever been (read more about the two sides of Koh Rong here). Apparently every two out of three backpackers get ill at this tropical Cambodian getaway, which […]

  • Monica Robinson

    Hi, I desire to subscribe for this post to obtain most up-to-date updates, so where can i do it please help.

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