Cambodian Islands: Koh Rong & Koh Tonsay
When heading to Cambodia, it was the 1st place on my trip where I knew I would be able to go to the coast. After travelling for 2 months and not seeing the sea, where others had previously gone to the islands and picked up their travellers tan, I was looking forward to monging out on a beach somewhere and getting some colour to my skin. So after staying in Siem Reap for 4 days, exploring Angkor Wat as well as sampling the nightlife…. Twice. We headed in the direction of Sihnoukville, with all intents and purposes of going to Koh Rong. Even before I had come travelling this was the first thing previous travellers had told me to go visit…a must! So after spending a few days in Sihnoukville, we booked an early speed ferry for 8am (usually $25 but we booked 5 at once so it was discounted to $23 each). I really suggest the speed ferry rather than the slow boat if heading to the island, yes you’ll save $10 but you will arrive way before the crowds and be able to find a room with more ease! We stayed to the right of the pier, down an alley at a place called Easy Guesthouse. The rooms were big, bathroom clean and free tea/coffee and set far enough back that you couldn’t hear any noise from the beach bars. A double room cost $10 and a twin (which you can fit 4 people in) cost $20. So it’s a good idea to share if you can! The further right you go, the more expensive places get, but if you stay nearer the pier the more likely you won’t be getting any sleep due to the music blaring from the bars until the early hours of the morning. Unless you are up listening to it, then obviously that doesn’t matter!
The beaches on Koh Rong are something I’ve never actually seen before. Living in the UK, we are used to our beaches being pebbles and the sea being a dark green and of the freezing cold variety! So stepping onto the brilliantly white sand, and looking out to the clear blue water that was literally perfect bath temperature, it was stunning. And I could see then and there why people went on about this place.
Long beach, around a $4 boat ride away from the main beach, is basically a deserted beach. Same white sands, clear waters, but nothing else, except the odd few people sleeping in hammocks! This is also the best place to sit and watch the sun set, as the main beach is facing away from this. And it is nothing short of beautiful. You can also do a night time boat trip to see the plankton, that glow blue when you move for $5, but I was unable to go due to illness.
There are few eating places, mostly just the guesthouses offering food, but for breakfast I would definitely recommend White Rose and if you fancy a pizza go to the Koh Lanta and their McMenu. Yum.
After 6 days on Koh Rong, and after a rather mental Full Moon Party on Police Beach, I managed to pick up a bug, so promptly took myself back to the mainland to dose myself up with antibiotics. The heat and my fever just didn’t go well and I needed air conditioning, stat.
So, after recovering for a few days back in Sihnoukville, we took a bus to the sleepy town of Kampot before heading to Kep another seaside town, popular with Cambodians living in Phnom Penh on the weekends. From there we had been told by a couple of girls that you can go to an island known as ‘Rabbit Island’ – also known as Koh Tonsay – and stay in beach bungalows where the electricity only ran from 6pm – 10pm. After the chaos of Koh Rong, this sounded like something I needed. So we caught a boat from Kep pier with a return ticket for $10 and set off to the island. The boat ride only takes 20 minutes and you land on the beach. We were told to head straight to the ‘place with the blue sun loungers’ as the woman that owned them is awesome. So that we did. We got 2 bungalows between 4 of us, at $7 per bungalow…bargain! And set down for relaxation. The lady that owned them, was an actual legend. Her name was Simone and she does indeed take care of everyone that visits. She’s very chatty and loves to give you a hug every now and then!
It’s quite an odd feeling to know that electronic things only have a certain life span with no electricity to charge them until night. So for 3 days, I read 2 books, listened to my iPod, napped in a hammock and ate delicious fish amok until we were ready to head back to modern conveniences.
There isn’t much to do on the island. Most people head for a day trip, so when the boats pick them up at 4pm, the island becomes extremely quiet. Every restaurant (of the 5 in total that are on the island) have cocktail happy hours, or beers for 75 cents. So, it’s great to sit back, enjoy the gorgeous sunset, eat fresh seafood and drink away the evening with your fellow islanders.
So, if you are looking for the proper ‘backpacker’ scene, then Koh Rong is where all the action is. Lots of people, lots of drinking, and beautiful beaches to spend your hungover days on. Koh Tonsay is for those that want peace and quiet. Time away from the world. But still enjoy beautiful scenery and meet amazing locals.
So, there you have it! Have you guys been to either island? What did you think of them and what would you recommend to do on them? Let me know on the comments below!
Amy is the founder of thewanderlustadventures.com. Currently residing in Reading, UK with a love of adventure travel, writing and photography - she pretty much writes about whatever the hell she wants!