By now everyone probably knows how much I love islands, and Koh Rong certainly didn’t disappoint. Even the cloudy skies and rain showers during my few days there couldn’t bring this tropical little island down.
Arriving at Koh Rong in a slight drizzle, we walked to the right of the pier and checked out a few guesthouses, finally settling on one with private double rooms for just $4 per night. Just to clarify, that equals just two dollars per person per night. My cheapest accommodation yet! It was nothing luxurious, simply a room with a bed & mosquito net and shared bathroom with no hot water, but then again, hot water doesn’t really exist on Koh Rong… In fact, not much at all exists on Koh Rong.
Only recently discovered as a “tourist destination,” Koh Rong was not on the typical backpacking itinerary just a few years ago. There are no real roads on the island, no ATMs (so bring enough cash with you), and oftentimes no power at night unless places decide to use their generator. There used to not even be wifi, but in the past year some restaurants have started to offer it. While it may sound unappealing to some, the lack of development gives the whole island a laid-back vibe that is hard to resist.
The beaches are stunning with clear postcard-worthy water and white sand, and it’s pretty easy to find a beach all to yourself if you’re up for exploring. The only downside to the beaches is the abundance of sandflies, whose bites are much worse than mosquitoes, but coat yourself in coconut oil (available at nearly any business on the island for $3) and you should be alright.
The best thing we did on the island was a snorkel trip offered by some of the locals. While the trip usually goes for $10 per person, we had around 20 people and managed to get the price down to $7 each. Seven dollars for a seven-hour boat trip around the island with snorkeling, fishing, drinks and a BBQ dinner, and swimming with bioluminescent plankton included. Not bad at all. While the sunset dinner was pretty spectacular, the highlight of the trip was definitely swimming with the plankton. Jumping into the sea made the water light up like a twinkling night sky, and swimming beneath the surface was like grabbing handfuls of glittering diamonds. Incredible experience, and that alone would have been worth our money.
If you think you want to visit Koh Rong, the time to go is now. This little island is quickly developing, and there are even plans to build an airport on it. Jay, the owner of one of the restaurants, says that just last year (2014) when he purchased his land, there were only 10 businesses on the island, but now, only 9 months later, there are 39. And while he only paid $10k for his restaurant (in a prime location just off the pier), the cheapest going rate for a property now is around $60k. Looks like the world has already caught on to Cambodia’s “next big thing.”
As always, keep on livin’ pura vida ✌