Koh Rong & Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia: Comparing both islands
Updated: Nov 7
Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem are small islands located off the coast of Sihanoukville in Cambodia. Known for their white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush rainforests, these islands are the perfect destination for travelers who are looking for a relaxing and secluded getaway. In this travel guide, we compare both islands, including how to get there, which area to stay, and things to do.
Check out our video about the Koh Rong Islands to see what you can expect!
How to get to the Koh Rong islands
To get to the Koh Rong islands, you must first travel to the seaside city of Sihanoukville. This can be done by plane, train, or bus depending on where you’re coming from. Once in Sihanoukville, you can take a ferry to either island. Ferries depart multiple times per day and the ride takes about 30-45 minutes. All ferry services will charge roughly $25 return, though prices can vary depending on the time of year, special offers, etcetera.
You can also take a ferry between the two islands, but you have to buy a separate ticket for this route. Once you arrive at your accommodation on the island, your host can help you arrange your journey to the next one.
Where To Stay on Koh Rong Sanloem
There are three main areas on the island where you can stay. These include:
Saracen Bay: This is the most popular beach on the island, and it is where most of the tourist infrastructure is located. Saracen Bay has a variety of accommodation options, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxury accommodations. It’s also where we stayed and we highly recommend this area! These are the hotels we recommend:
Onederz (where we stayed - $): This hostel has dorm- as well as private rooms. Facilities include a bar, restaurant, and games area (with pool table and ping pong table)
Sara Resort ($$): This mid-range option also has a swimming pool
M-pai Bay: This is the main village where locals live. It has some budget accommodation options and restaurants, but it is less developed than Saracen Bay.
Lazy Beach and Sunset Beach: These beaches are located on the opposite side of the island. They are currently only accessible by walking, so they are quieter and more secluded. There are a few beach accommodations with limited facilities here as well.
What to do on Koh Rong Sanloem
Relaxing on the beach: The island has some of the most beautiful beaches in Cambodia. You can spend your days swimming, sunbathing, and reading a book.
Afternoon boat tour: You can take a tour to do some snorkeling, fishing, watching the sunset, and seeing the illuminating plankton. The waters around Koh Rong Sanloem are teeming with marine life.
Walking: The island has a number of trails that wind through the rainforest. You can walk to waterfalls, viewpoints, and hidden beaches, or simply go for a beach walk.
Watching the sunset: The best places to watch the sun go down include The Cliff at M-pai bay, Sunset Beach, and Lazy Beach
Enjoy the facilities at the accommodation: we stayed at the Onederz hostel, which had a nice bar, restaurant, fire show, and games. Some hotels also have a swimming pool. We included some great accommodation options for this island in the description below the video for you.
Where To Stay on Koh Rong
There are various areas to stay on the island, but the most common ones include:
Koh Touch: This is the main town on the island filled with bars, restaurants, guesthouses, and bungalows. It is the most vibrant and lively part of the island.
Long Set Beach: This is a more laid-back area located on the north side of the island. Long Set Beach has a long stretch of white sand beach with a selection of budget- and mid-range beachfront accommodations, restaurants, and bars. This is where we stayed and it was our favorite area on the island.
Recommended places to stay:
Scarlet Sails Resort ($$ - where we stayed): they have both budget- and mid-range rooms. There's also a big swimming pool, restaurant, and gym.
BeachWalk Koh Rong (mid-scale): a bit fancier than the Scarlet Sails and also has a swimming pool
Pagoda Beach: This is a quiet and secluded area located on the east side of the island. Pagoda Beach has a few luxury resorts.
Long Beach & Sok San Beach: This is a high-end area located on the southwest side of the island. There are a number of luxury resorts and private beaches here.
What to do on Koh Rong
Relaxing at your accommodation and enjoying the beach: This is really what the island is about.
Snorkeling and diving: You can find colorful fish, coral reefs, and other marine creatures in the waters around the island and there are a few dive centers that offer such tours.
Going on a boat tour: Similar to Koh Rong Sanloem, you can also do a boat tour from this island. This includes some snorkeling, fishing, relaxing at the beautiful Long Beach, and seeing the illuminating plankton. The boat tours seemed to be more expensive here than on Koh Rong Sanloem.
Renting a scooter: Explore the island by land and stop at the fisherman’s village to see the local life, the mangrove forest (Prek Ta Sok Eco-Tourism Community), and the beaches in the other areas. Just be aware that there are quite some abandoned places as well as public beaches with lots of trash.
Koh Rong vs Koh Rong Sanloem: which one is better?
Both Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem are idyllic escapes for travelers seeking relaxation, rejuvenation, and natural beauty. But there are few main differences:
Koh Rong Sanloem, the smaller and lesser-known of the two sisters, exudes a more intimate and laid-back vibe. Backpackers are drawn to its affordable prices and serene beaches, making it a budget-friendly paradise.
Koh Rong, on the other hand, has gained a reputation as a party island. However, its diverse landscape offers something for everyone. Koh Touch, the island's main hub, boasts a bustling nightlife scene, while secluded beaches like Long Set Beach, Pagoda Beach and Sok San Beach offer a tranquil oasis.
Both islands are undergoing rapid development, with new roads and resorts sprouting up all the time. It's best to consult with your accommodation host for up-to-date information and recommendations.
For us, we liked Koh Rong Sanloem the most for its more relaxed vibes overall and it felt like a more intimate experience on a secluded jungle island. But everyone has different preferences, so choose the one that is best for your travel style.
Map Koh Rong Islands
Find all the places to go, eat, drink, and stay on the Koh Rong Islands on Google Maps. To follow and save the list, do the following:
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If you follow the list we made, all our saved places of the Koh Rong Islands will show up in Your Places. The places will also appear as suggested locations in Google Maps.
Use These Websites To Save Money On Your Trip To the Koh Rong Islands
Booking.com for places to stay
Skyscanner for cheap flights
GetYourGuide for local tours
Rentalcars.com for affordable car rentals
Are you having a hard time planning your trip to the Koh Rong Islands? Get our Interactive Travel Planner to keep it all organized.
Need more travel inspiration? Check out our other destinations and articles about Cambodia: