Koh Rong Samloem: 7 x things to do on the most beautiful island in Cambodia

Koh Rong Samloem is the ultimate tropical destination in Cambodia! If you thought you couldn’t find tropical beaches with palm trees and clear blue sea in Cambodia, you are wrong. This authentic islet is just 30 minutes by boat from the coast of Cambodia. Once off the ferry, you land on a small piece of paradise still spared from mass tourism. Koh Rong Samloem is not big and there is not an awful lot to do, yet it is a place where people often stay longer than they had planned. Here you can read the 7 best things to do on the island, and who knows, you may never want to leave!

Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem?

Located 25 kilometers from the coastal town of Sihanoukville, Koh Rong Samloem is the little sister of the nearby island of Koh Rong. Some travelers combine both islands as boats run daily between the two. But if you are limited in time you will have to choose. Not to worry, you can’t make a wrong choice! Koh Rong is bigger and has more luxurious resorts and entertainment options. You will find that Koh Rong is already a bit more “developed” than Koh Rong Samloem, but it is also livelier here and this is more of a destination for the party-goer. Koh Rong Samloem, on the other hand, has more of the real island vibe, everything is still authentic and more “back to basics. Both islands have unseen beautiful beaches and nature, so no matter what you choose, you will definitely experience that paradise feeling!

TRAVEL TIP: There are no ATMs on Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem. So be sure to bring plenty of cash!

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7 fun things to do on Koh Rong Samloem

Even though Koh Rong Samloem is not big, you can easily enjoy yourself there for several days! Koh Rong Samloem is home to a close-knit community, which is a mix between locals and people who found their way to the island over the years and never wanted to leave. Everyone here lives in harmony and is always there for each other. You’ll notice references in this article to nice little addresses that sometimes have a Western operator. These operators make a huge commitment to the local people. When you eat or drink something here, a small amount always goes to the local community!

koh rong samloem pier
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island of cambodia
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1) Stay in the local fishing village of M’Pai Bay

Koh Rong Samloem consists of two parts: Saracen Bay and M’Pai Bay. When you visit the island, we recommend staying at M’Pai Bay. In this local fishing village, you will still experience the real, authentic Cambodia. The few dusty streets connect everything, where you can see the children playing with the dogs. On the beach, you can watch the fishermen leave and arrive at the pier or just enjoy that wonderful, laid back atmosphere that prevails on islands. Stay at Beachhouse Cambodia, where you literally sleep on the beach. Nothing better than waking up in the morning and being able to drink your coffee less than 10 meters from the sea, right?

m'pai bay koh rong samloem
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beach house cambodia
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2) Go for brunch at Seapony

Seapony is a true household name in M’Pai Bay. Everyone calls this the best breakfast on the island, and we can only agree. From 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. you will find a wide range of delicious dishes. Think hot oatmeal with turmeric, a bagel with smoked salmon or fresh smoothies and juices. The best way to start your day off right and explore the island!

seapony koh rong samloem
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breakfast cambodia
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3) Visit the most beautiful beaches and go snorkeling

Did you know that National Geographic made a listing of the 21 most beautiful beaches in the world, and one of the beaches on Koh Rong Samloem is among them? Neither did we, so we were pleasantly surprised when we discovered Lazy Beach. It is not the typical pearly white beach with palm trees, but a golden yellow beach bordering the jungle. Other than one little restaurant, you won’t find anything else here either, which may just make it more fun. Furthermore, Sunset Beach is also highly recommended, where in addition to beautiful sunsets, you can go snorkeling or diving.

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lazy beach koh rong samloem
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4) Take the cab boat to Saracen Bay

Koh Rong Samloen is still so unspoiled that there are no connecting roads between different parts of the island. So when you stay in M’Pai Bay, you can only reach the other part of the island by cab boat. For $10 per person, you sail there and back to Saracen Bay. There you can spend the day on the snow-white beach, have a nice cocktail at one of the beach bars or go hiking in the jungle. When we were there in February 2023, we did notice that many hiking trails had been excavated by bulldozers. So this was not pleasant hiking, but hopefully the trails will recover after the work is done.

cab boat koh rong samloem
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boat koh rong samloem cambodia
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5) Enjoy the sunset

The sunsets on Koh Rong Samloem were perhaps the most beautiful we were able to experience in Cambodia. An ideal place for this is The Cliff Hostel . This hostel has a cool bar with all kinds of fun seating and a hanging net that overlooks the ocean. Furthermore, Bar Bok Bowie is also highly recommended. This new bar is operated by a Dutch couple who know how to serve the best gin tonics and make you feel right at home on this beautiful island.

sunset koh rong samloem
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6) Discover the local cuisine

Cambodian cuisine is not as popular as Thai or Indonesian cuisine, but it is certainly not inferior. Cambodia has several, delicious dishes you must have tried such as Amok (steamed fish curry) or Lok Lak (a meat stew). On the island, we ate delicious food so many times, and especially Spicy 23 Hostel was our favorite. Here you will find all kinds of local dishes prepared with love by a Cambodian family. Be sure to try the ‘fried eggplant’ here!

local food cambodia
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7) Swim among luminous plankton

One of the most special things to do on Koh Rong Samloem is swim among luminous plankton. You won’t see much of this during the day, but when it’s pitch black and you go swimming you can be a spectator of this magical natural phenomenon. By making movements in the water, the plankton will begin to glow, giving you a beautiful sight of neon luminous waves. You can join a boat tour for this, but at M’Pai Bay you can just walk there yourself! Walk right down the beach and cross the bridge. Walk far enough until you are away from any lighting because it must be really pitch black. It is also best to go on an evening when there is not too much moonlight.

m'pai bay koh rong samloem
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Other fun things to do on Koh Rong Samloem

Are you like us pleasantly surprised by this little piece of paradise in Cambodia and don’t want to leave right away? Trust us, you can easily spend several days there! Besides enjoying the relaxing atmosphere, there are other fun things to do on Koh Rong Samloem:

  • Rent a kayak from your accommodation and go sea kayaking
  • Take a day trip to the nearby island of Koh Rong
  • Do you like diving? Then you can definitely join the local diving school for a fun freedive.
  • Make the one-hour hike to The Old Lighthouse
  • Go on a full day boat tour around the island
beaches koh rong samloem
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Where to stay on Koh Rong Samloem

As mentioned earlier, on Koh Rong Samloem you can stay at M’Pai Bay or Saracen Bay. At Saracen Bay you will find more resorts, white sandy beaches and you can easily hike yourself to Sunset Beach and Lazy Beach. Then again, at M’Pai Bay you have that authentic feeling of Cambodia, can swim among luminous plankton and visit fun bars like Bar Bok Bowie or the Cliff. The only transportation between the two is by boat, but it sails daily. Here is some inspiration for the best accommodations in Koh Rong Samloem:

  • Beach House Cambodia: wake up on the beach overlooking the sea in M’Pai Bay! You can do yoga there daily and has a delicious menu.
  • Lazy Bones: cozy, wooden bungalows right on the beach in M’Pai Bay with a cool, communal area.
  • Onederz: a cool hostel right on the beach in Saracen Bay. You can also play billiards, ping pong or have fun outings with fellow travelers!
  • Bamboo Jam: Brightly colored bungalows on the pearly white beach in Saracen Bay including delicious breakfast!
  • Sara Resort: beautiful resort with infinity pool and modern rooms overlooking the white sandy beaches. In the evening you can join us for a delicious BBQ on the beach.

How to get there

Koh Rong Samloem is a small island off the coast of Cambodia. To get here, take a boat from the coastal town of Sihanoukville which is a half-hour boat ride away. Just buy a boat ticket at the pier or easily online through 12GoAsia. Several ferries run daily to the island for $25 round trip. Sihanoukville is easily reached from the cities of Kampot or Phnom Penh by bus. You can easily arrange a bus ticket at your accommodation or you can also book online.

koh rong samloem in cambodia
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Still have questions about a trip to Koh Rong Samloem or Cambodia in general? Let us know in a comment below! Looking for more information about your next trip? Please do not hesitate to contact us or send an email to snoezelsontheroad@gmail.com

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