Avid traveller and tour guide Benjamin Johnson has seen pretty much every “paradise beach” in Southeast Asia. Here he describes his favourite, a Cambodian island that he says has everything except the crowds
An hour by ferry off the south coast of Cambodia, there is place that can be considered an adult playground paradise.
Now I know exactly what you’re thinking, this place must be filled to the brim with hookers and disappointing beaches, but this couldn’t be less true.
The place is devoid of prostitutes and boasts white sand beaches that can easily rival the best beaches of the tropical world.
Koh Rong and its smaller sister island Koh Rong Samloem are two jungle draped reef-encircled islands with a reputation for the best snorkelling and the best parties in Cambodia.
The island is similar to how the Thai islands of Koh Phi Phi and Koh Pha Ngan were 20 years ago.
With the police presence on the island limited to the aptly named police beach, this place offers all-night beach parties or quiet escapes, it’s up to you.
The main beach area, where ferries land, offers all types of accommodation, food options and of course (most importantly) a plethora of bars to cater to all tastes.
If you want to be where the action is, then staying here is a must, especially when you make that sloppy drunk walk (or boat ride) of shame back to bed as the sun rises. The bars in this area have a fairly basic set ups and all offer stunning beach views.
While drinks are slightly more expensive than the mainland (only very little, and that’s understandable due to transport costs) they add something you can’t find in the dusty alleys of Phnom Penh or the hooker riddled streets of Sihanoukville.
Bar crawls are run nightly, which trawl down the beach exploring the unique nooks and crannies of the main beach front. Some of our favourites were Vagabonds, Island boys, Bong’s and of course the long-standing Q bar.
If you’re looking for something a bit more chilled out, the rest of the island can offer you just that hosting pure white sand beaches and pure untainted serenity. Four-kilometre Beach and Coconut Beach, both a short boat trip from the main beach are secluded and untouched.
But of course, this place won’t remain untouched for long, with the future bringing more development to the island, the days of being a lush hippy paradise will surely not last forever.
While Koh Rong remains a bastion of psychedelic freedom, we recommend getting there as soon as possible. The best time is to go is dry season, from January to April. This time of year weather is at its coolest (about 32C) and the water its clearest, which makes for great snorkelling and diving (if you manage to make it out of bed before the sun sets, that is).