Take a boat ride from Sihanoukville to explore any one of the dozen gorgeous islands off shore. Boat trips depart every day and can be booked from many guest houses and travel agents in town. Mostly undeveloped and unspoiled (although this is set to change – and in some cases, sooner rather than later), some of the islands have very few facilities in the way of hostels or resorts (and we repeat – yet!).
Traditional fishing villages, beautiful beaches and some unexplored dive sites await discovery! All these islands are easily accessible from Sihanoukville and can be factored in as part of a day trip (a popular 3-island trip comprises of a short stop at two places for a spot of snorkeling, with Bamboo for lunch neatly sandwiched in the middle).
Well worth the two and a half hour boat trip from Sihanoukville, one of the most beautiful things about this island is that most of the bungalow operations (bar one) are built on sunrise beach. What can be better than waking up bleary-eyed, opening your bungalow door then settling straight back down in your hammock to watch it emerge?
There are loads of great choices on sunrise beach, from budget dorms at Koh Rong Backpackers to flashpacker options such as Paradise Bungalows and Tree House Bungalows. A great mid-range option is Monkey Island, as well as Coco’s Bungalow Resort (where a party is usually kicking off at least a few nights of the week). Three rooms are also available (from $6 a night) at La Mami on the pier, which is absolutely worth a visit, even if it’s just for one of the best Italian meals you’ll get during your whole stay in Cambodia.
On the blissfully serene sunset beach on the other side of the island, the only accommodation option is called Broken Heart Guesthouse (BHGH). Even if you don’t stay here, it’s well worth doing the 45 minute trek over to it via the jungle. Word of warning though – it’s definitely more of a trek than a walk, so wear sturdy shoes (they’ll come in handy – as we wish we’d known – for the short periods you’ll be semi-abseiling down rocks). Also, don’t forget your torch for the journey back (unless you’re like us, conveniently misplace it and have to opt for a taxi-boat back instead).
The Full Moon Party on Koh Rong Samloem – If you’re on Koh Rong, there’s a party boat that leaves for Samloem at 4.30pm and gets back at 8am the following day. No doubt there’s a similar trip from Sihanoukville itself.
Koh Ta Kiev
Another breathtaking island, with only three bungalow operations available: Ten 103 Treehouse Bay, Koh Ta Kiev Island Resort (both suitable for ‘flashpackers’), and Crusoe Island Beach Camping & Bungalows (which offers the nice touch of everyone eating dinner together at 7pm). Koh Ta Kiev is just one hour away from Sihanoukville!
Koh Russei (Bamboo Island)
A tiny little gem, you can visit Bamboo from Sihanoukville as part of a 3-island trip (with lunch at Bamboo neatly sandwiched in the middle). It’s less than an hour away from Sihanoukville, and you arrive back on the mainland at 4pm. A good trip, but we’d heartily recommend staying at least one night at the only bungalow operation on the island. A 15 minute walk through jungle over to the other side, Koh Ru offers basic but clean bungalows with the all-important hammocks outside, and a great communal space to chill, eat and practice your poi! The staff put on a fire poi show every night at 10pm.
Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island)
Just a 25 minute boat ride from the old colonial beach town of Kep, the sight of it as your longtail boat approaches – all fringed with palm-trees swaying in the breeze, and speckled with hammocks on the shoreline – is sure to be a highlight. Picture-perfect with warm, gentle waters, Koh Tonsay is usually pretty secluded (don’t expect any mad parties here!). Accommodation-wise, expect a choice of basic bungalows on stilts for anything between $5-$10 per night for a double. The food – particularly the seafood – is gorgeously fresh (don’t forget to add a generous helping of that famous Kampot pepper!). There are two beaches, plus some good hiking to do here, too – although I don’t think anyone would blame you for deciding to stay in your hammock for just… one… more… hour…