Saracen bay

Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia – Travel Guide

Koh Rong Samloem (also sometimes spelt Kaoh Rong Sanloem) is an island in Cambodia. Confusingly, it sits in the Gulf of Thailand, just off the coast of Cambodian seaside town cum casino haven, Sihanoukville. This place might be less visited than its sister island Koh Rong but it is no less beautiful! 

This island paradise is known for its white sandy beaches, warm crystal waters and exquisite underwater life, including the magnificent glowing bioluminescent plankton. Koh Rong Samloem is breathtakingly beautiful and with no transportation on the island, other than taxi boats; it’s the perfect place to escape reality.

Koh Rong Samloem Map & Resources

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Best Time to Visit Koh Rong Samloem

Koh Rong Samloem has two seasons; the monsoon season and the dry season. However, due to the tropical climate, the temperature stays warm all year around. 

The best time to visit Koh Rong Samloem is between October and January when the weather is not too hot and the humidity levels are lower, making the climate more comfortable. This is a great time to enjoy the pristine beaches, and activities such as snorkelling, diving and kayaking.

Where to Stay in Koh Rong Samloem

Saracen Bay

This area is busier than other parts of Koh Rong Samloem. As well as fancy accommodation and budget hostels, there are also lots of beach restaurants and chilled-out bars here. Saracen Bay is the best place to stay on Koh Rong Samloem for convenience. Not only is it just a short walk away from the two main piers but it is also the main jumping-off point for boat trips.

Saracen bay
Saracen Bay is one of the most popular areas to stay.

M’Pai Bay

Located in the north of Koh Rong Samloem, local fishing village M’Pai Bay doubles up as the backpacker hub of the island. The beautiful cove is surrounded by many stunning beaches and accommodation here is the most affordable on the island. 

There is great nightlife and cheap places to eat and drink nearby. This is the area to stay if you are a backpacker who wants to meet new people and socialise. However, if you are part of a couple or a family, Saracen Bay is likely more suited!

Sunset Beach

Located on the western side of the island, this area is a favourite among hippies and divers. It’s great for travellers who prefer a quieter setting and a slower pace of life, as well as those who like to have unique experiences in the places they’re visiting. 

As you’re likely to have gathered from its name, this spot is a fantastic place to catch one of Koh Rong Samloem’s sunsets! It’s important to note that you have to walk 40 minutes to get there and the journey can be slightly challenging in places. Therefore, it is not recommended you stay here if you’re travelling with a suitcase.

Best Hostels in Koh Rong Samloem

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Lazy beach
Koh Rong Samloem is full of budget-friendly digs.

1. Mad Monkey Backpackers Resort (Saracen Bay)

Situated in its own private bay, this resort is the perfect paradise made for backpackers! Perched right on the beachfront, you’ll feel relaxed soaking up the Cambodian sunshine with other backpackers from around the globe.

2. Onederz Hostel (Saracen Bay)

Located in the middle of the beautiful Saracen beach and within walking distance from the piers, this place is the perfect tropical setting to chill out in with your fellow travellers! The rooms are clean and comfortable, making it a great choice.

3. The Cliff Hostel (M’Pai Bay)

This hostel is a favourite among backpackers and is considered to be one of the best spots to watch sunset on the island! It’s super affordable and there are chillout areas on the sea-facing balcony lined with outdoor beds, hammocks, and swings. To add to this, there’s also an on-site bar and restaurant – what more could you want?!

4. The Big Easy Koh Rong Samloem (Saracen Bay) 

Offering dorms and private rooms, this brand-new hostel is highly rated by guests. There is a bar with happy hour cocktails and they host different events each night. Don’t miss the chance to eat here, the food is delicious!

5. Lucky Sun (Saracen Bay)

This affordable hostel also offers cheap food and beers, along with the best nightlife on the beach! They have a bar which hosts fire shows and pumping parties (including dancing on the bar!). Lucky Sun also offers group boat trips around the island for fishing and snorkelling. Choose between a basic but comfortable private room or dorm bed!

Snorkelling trip
Heading off on a boat trip is a great way to make friends!

7 Things to Do in Koh Rong Samloem

1. Visit the Old Lighthouse

If you’re looking for the best views that Koh Rong Samloem has to offer, set off on the trail towards the old lighthouse. To get there, first head to Dolphin Bay Resort in Saracen Bay and follow the track for five kilometres. 

The hike is pretty easy and best done in the morning when it’s cooler. It should take around an hour for someone of an average fitness level. 

When you reach the lighthouse you will come across the man who lives there. You’ll need to pay him a dollar (US) entrance fee to head to the top. The viewing platform boasts fantastic views!

2. Take a Boat Trip Around the Island

There are many kinds of boat tours available around the island including snorkelling and fishing trips. On some of them, you can even choose where you stop off along the way!

The locals will show you how they fish using plastic bottles and fishing wires. If you’re really lucky, they may even fire up a BBQ on the boat and cook the fish fresh for a truly tantalising taste experience! 

Fishing and cooking fish on BBQ on boat trip
Traditional Khmer fishing is harder than it looks!

The best part is that when night falls, the bioluminescent plankton light up the sea beneath you; an enchanting spectacle. 

3. Swim in the Waterfall

Look out for the fantastic waterfall close to Saracen Bay’s main pier and Freedom Island Resort. It’s surrounded by tropical green jungle and you can sit in the refreshing water at the bottom to cool off on a hot day… very inviting! It’s important to note that the waterfall can dry up during the middle of the hot season.

4. Snorkel or Scuba Dive

Take advantage of the amazing underwater life at Cambodia’s first Marine National Park with a spot of diving or snorkelling. There is a scuba diving centre located near Orchid Resort in the middle of Saracen Bay which is highly recommended among travellers. For the best experience, head to the waters around Sunset Beach on the west side of the island!

Snorkelling trip
The waters around Koh Rong Samloem are a marine lover’s dream!

5. Watch the Sun Set at Sunset Beach

If you love chilling by the beach and watching the sun disappear beyond the ocean, don’t miss the vibrant pink and purple hues at Sunset Beach! 

This gorgeous golden sand beach is quiet with just a few guesthouses along the beachfront and only a handful of places to eat and drink, giving it a secluded, castaway island feel! 

The accommodation here provides an array of activities to keep you entertained, including volleyball, paddleboarding and pool! To get there, instead of a left turn, take a right turn at the fork in the road on the same trail to Lazy Beach. 

6. Hike to Lazy Beach

Based on the west side of the island, Lazy Beach is nestled away from the busier parts of Koh Rong Samloem, offering a secluded and peaceful vibe. There are no restaurants or bars, apart from the one at the beachside bungalows, so factor this in when planning your visit. 

Entrance to lazy beach trail from saracen bay
The start of the trail to Lazy Beach.

To get to this beautiful golden sand beach, you have to trek across the island. Starting behind Tree Bar in Saracen Bay, follow the signposted trail until you reach a fork in the road and then turn left until you reach the bay. The walk takes around 25 minutes at a gentle pace.

7. Treat Yourself to a Beachfront Massage

Imagine lying in the shade on a white sandy beach, with waves crashing in the distance and the smell of the sea on the breeze… Doesn’t that sound like paradise? 

Now imagine that you’re getting a massage at the same time! A skilled masseuse isn’t hard to come by on Koh Rong Samloem and when daylight dawns, massage shops begin to pop up all along the beach!

Food and Drink in Koh Rong Samloem

If you’re on a budget, you’ll be saddened to hear that eating and drinking on Koh Rong Samloem does tend to mean splurging more than in other parts of Cambodia and Southeast Asia. On average, you can expect bills to come to around $5-$12USD for a meal and a drink. 

This isn’t to say there are no shoestring options though. Cheaper alternatives exist, you just need to find them! The following places are a few of our favourites on the island. 

Titanic Restaurant: Most of the beachfront restaurants along Saracen Bay cook up barbecues right on the sand, preparing the most mouthwatering seafood and meat feasts! Although there are many to choose from, Titanic is one of the most popular options, serving barbecued food for $6-10USD a plate. 

Saracen Bay
With stretches of sand like this, why wouldn’t you eat beachside every night?

Octopussy Bar: From beach games to movie nights and a range of vibrant and creative cocktails – this place has it all! Great beachside bar and restaurant which you definitely shouldn’t miss on your visit to the island. 

Fishing Hook: Located in M’Pai Bay, this eatery serves some of the finest food on the island, such as traditional Khmer curries and an all-you-can-eat buffet for $6-8USD!

Mom’s Home Cooking: This local restaurant in M’Pai Bay is a favourite with budget travellers. Meals start from as little as $2USD. Eat here for some delicious authentic Khmer food!

Sweet Time: This is the most affordable restaurant in Saracen Bay and the best place for the famous Cambodian dish; Chicken or Fish Amok! They serve good portion sizes for a great price compared to other nearby restaurants, making it an ideal place for budget backpackers!

Tree Bar: Located in the centre of Saracen Bay, stop here if you’re after that authentic, rustic beach bar vibe. They serve ice-cold drinks which do a great job at quenching your thirst on a hot day! 

Saracen bay beachfront Restaurant
There’s nothing more refreshing than an ice-cold drink on a hot day!

The One Resort: This place is a little more on the fancy side but if you want to treat yourself, it’s a no-brainer. Located right on the beach with an infinity pool overlooking the white sand and azure sea, this place is pure bliss! Head here for some tasty cocktails and delicious food. The restaurant serves a range of dishes including Thai, Cambodian and European.

Huba-Huba: On the secluded Sunset Beach surrounded by jungle, this beach restaurant features a bar made from the bow of an old boat! It serves cold beer, cocktails, wine, and of course, it doesn’t skimp on the classic beachfront barbecue experience.

Street shakes: Along the beachfront, you’ll find many fruit shake stalls which are a refreshing treat on a hot day! For just a dollar each, they won’t break the bank! 

How to Get to Koh Rong Samloem

To get to Koh Rong Samloem, you need to head to Sihanoukville which is a southern city on Cambodia’s mainland. You can get to Sihanoukville by flying into a nearby airport such as Sihanoukville Airport (KOS) which is 12.2 km away or Phnom Penh. The latter is further away (177.8 km), however, it is the only other major airport nearby(ish). 

From Sihanoukville, catch a ferry to Koh Rong Samloem but make sure you know whereabouts on the island you are going. Getting from Saracen Bay to other parts of Samloem can be pricey! Ask at the ticket office which ferry will take you to the part of the island you are staying on to be safe. The ferries take around 30-45 minutes and cost around $22USD. 

Sunset on boat trip
Ferries are the only way to get to the island.

Where to Go Next:

Koh Rong: If you want more island paradise, head to the nearby popular backpacker pick, Koh Rong. The island is similar to Koh Rong Samloem, with pristine white sand beaches, however, Koh Rong boasts a livelier party atmosphere!

Phnom Penh: Head to Cambodia’s capital to experience the historical architecture and attractions, such as the various temples, Royal Palace and vibrant local markets. You can also learn about the awful history of the Khmer Rouge regime by visiting S-21 or the Killing Fields.
Kampot: Head to the southern town of Kampot, known for its high-quality pepper and salt fields. Placed in the middle of a magnificent winding river, it’s the perfect spot for a riverside getaway!

Sophie Varney bio pic
Sophie Varney | Ty & Soph

Sophie has dreamt of travelling the world ever since she can remember and so finally decided to book that flight, pack her bags, travel to Southeast Asia with her partner. She’s a huge foodie and loves the beach but also loves going on adventures and hikes! Together, Sophie and her partner create travel content with lots of helpful tips and inspiration which you can follow on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok!

Find her on: YouTube | Instagram | TikTok

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