Rightfully, Koh Rong is regarded as Cambodia’s corner of paradise. Koh Rong is the second largest island in Cambodia, Koh Kong being the largest. Koh Rong is an island near The Gulf of Thailand. It is situated 26 km west of Sihanoukville’s coastline is a rare treat for any traveller.
When It Feels So Right, How Could It Not Be Koh Rong!
This dazzling tropical island is only a short boat ride from the mainland in Sihanoukville. The ferry to Koh Rong takes around two hours arriving at Koh Tuich (Touch) village, the main tourist beach on the island. Another option is going by speedboat which takes just 45 minutes and also drops you in Koh Tuich. It is the most expensive option but still only costs about $20.
Koh Tuich village is the liveliest part of Koh Rong with a few bars and restaurants. The island, as yet, is mainly undeveloped giving visitors the single option of a simple way of life. It is, undeniably, a real break away from all the comforts of home. This, alone, is hugely attractive to many backpackers and visitors in general.
Electricity isn’t available 24 hours a day but some businesses do run generators during some of the hours when electricity on the island is rationed. This may appear disappointing for WiFi lovers but the reality is you’ll quickly appreciate the benefits gained from putting your phone or tablet away and relaxing in peace surrounded by the glories of nature.
Koh Rong, not only lacking in electricity but also roads too. This island remains more or less untouched. To the many people who have visited this tropical getaway claim, they’ll never regret the adventure.
The inland, away from the coast, is undeveloped and remains to be a dense jungle. Untouched by man, this area abounds with wildlife.
Accommodation along the beach consists of –
⦁ Beach bungalows
⦁ One 5 Star resort
There are a number of bungalows and guesthouses to choose between. A double room should cost in the region of $10 – $20 (U.S dollars) a night.
Food and Drink
-Meals usually cost between $3 – $5.
-Beers should cost about $1.
-Other alcoholic drinks cost $3 or more.
Good advice is to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Long beach is utterly magnificent, found on the opposite side of the island, and is not accessible by road. This leaves you two options, you can either hike through the jungle or hop on a boat. Either route has its own appeal. The boat trip gives you the opportunity of seeing this divine island from the sea and is the fasted way to get there.
Opting to hike takes you along a dirt path leading from Koh Tuich village and through the jungle. When you reach the first peak, it’s truly a treat to get your first glimpse of all that lies deep down beneath. It is certainly one hike that is worth all the effort. Long beach is possibly best described as the closest example of a perfect beach you are ever likely to find. Few could rival this one.
The exquisite turquoise water is crystal clear making it incredibly inviting for a swim. This is especially so if you opted to hike through the jungle. Accompanied by white sandy beaches that stretch along the coast for miles, this beach is among the most desirable of all in the whole of southeast Asia. The sand is so fine it feels like powder to walk on. Perfection incarnate.
Camping on Long Beach
Anyone who’s been to Long Beach will assure you that its a safe place to camp. It’s not uncommon for someone to simply leave you their spot when they leave. You too are likely to do the same for next people to arrive as you leave. The beach is scattered with small tents. Yet, there aren’t crowds of people, the beach appears to be endless, giving you all the space you would like.
As evening approaches you will be greeted by sunsets that are out of this world. It’s magical watching the sun as it sets and sinks below the horizon. In addition, there are locals who come to beach selling cold beers which, for some, may make it all the more enjoyable. (If you plan to make a campfire it is advisable to have it ready before the dark night approaches.) Now, it’s time to enjoy a small campfire, lie back and look at the starry skies above.
If you prefer not to spend the night camping on the beach then you can always catch a ride (for a small price) with one of the many local fishing boats that arrive at sunset which will take you back to Koh Tuich. This is definitely more appealing than hiking back in the dark. Even more so if you are one of the ones who hiked all the way there in the first place.
Tips for Long Beach visitors and visitors in general
There’s only one place to buy food and water but don’t rely on it always being open. Take some with you.
Wear shoes fit for hiking. Flip-flops are not recommended.
The heat is exhausting, make sure to take along plenty of water to drink as there is none to buy on the way to Long Beach.
Wear a hat as there isn’t much to shade you from the burning sun.
If you plan to spend the night, tents and hammocks can be hired in Koh Tuich to take with you.
Finally, stay for the sunset. It is, without a doubt, won’t be something you will regret.
Things To Do
Surprisingly enough there are a number of activities on offer on this small island. For example, paddle-boarding, kayaking, snorkelling, boat trips to other islands or you may even like to trek across the island.
Boat tours offering different activities, such as fishing, snorkelling or BBQs.
It’s probably worth mentioning the wondrous sight of the glowing plankton that can be seen at night. (Best viewed away from well-lit places.)
There are bars that play music, some staying open until the small hours.
There are two seasons in Koh Rong, the wet season and the dry season. It lies in the tropical monsoon climate zone.
The average temperature is between 24 °C – 30 °C.
January is generally the coolest month with temperatures typically ranging from 14° upwards. April is typically the warmest month with temperatures often over 30°C.
Finally, unfortunately, Koh Rong is very possibly about to experience some dramatic changes.
The Royal Group has acquired a 99-year lease for Koh Rong Island. A royal decree granted to the Royal Group has made Koh Rong available for development.
This is a devastating blow to the Island’s Cambodian population. Locals fear the same fate awaits them as the residents of the neighbouring province, Koh Kong. In Koh Kong, the UDG (China’s Union Development Group) having been granted a 99-year lease, on land which includes 20% of Cambodia’s coastline, evicted thousands of residents from their land (according to a 2012 report by the United Nations). Thousands more residents agreed to receive compensation in return for their land. A deal nearly all of them now regret bitterly. They claim that the offer of compensation was also accompanied by threats, giving them little choice of turning it down.
The Royal Group (RG) have plans to construct a hotel resort, golf courses, roads and even an airport on Koh Rong.
The Royal Group, despite planning massive developments on this small tropical island, declare themselves to be environmentally responsible developers.
The RG argue that they will preserve the previously untouched natural wilderness whilst simultaneously turning the island into a construction site. RG has made promises to maintain and manage the island’s unique environment that is the natural habitat of countless living creatures, flora and fauna.
Therefore, it requires a considerable stretch of anyone’s imagination as to how, exactly, they are planning on doing it. How will they synchronise the systematic destruction required to for such a massive development with preserving the natural wilderness?
So long Koh Rong. I fail to see how something can be right when, in my opinion, is so wrong.