Often overshadowed by big brother island Koh Rong next door, Koh Rong Samloem has begun making a name for itself. Read on for our picks of the bunch when it comes to selecting the right hideaway to enjoy your down and out time on one of Koh Rong Samloen's glorious beaches.
Gently lounging in the Gulf of Thailand, the island has good snorkelling and diving possibilities and is only two hours by boat from Sihanoukville. There are a selection of beaches to choose from, but they primarily come in come in two shades -- golden or white -- and the accommodation is eco, funky, rustic, canvas or romantic.
The biggest choice of accommodation is now found at Saracen Bay, the rising star of Koh Rong Samloem and the quickest beach to get to from the mainland. Dorm doyennes will be happy with the open-air sleeping at The Beach -- $5 gets you a comfy mattress on a platform, nice linen and a view to die for, directly on the sand. If you like your walls to go all the way around, the imaginative circular huts come with shared or ensuite bathrooms, made from thatch and pebbles.
At the other end of the budget spectrum, Saracen Bay Resort has carefully designed bungalows, which look like standard beach buildings until you get close up. That's when you notice the insect screens, sparkling tiled floors, full Western bathroom and attention to detail with furniture and cleaning. Considerately spaced at a distance away from the restaurant, generator and each other, these lovely rooms are perfect for romance without waking up the neighbours. All this care and comfort comes at a price, but $45 a night for bug-free sleep and a glorious view from the veranda when you wake is certainly not extortionate.
Always dreamt of camping on the beach, but worry about ablutions or too lazy to put up a tent? Sun Island ECO Village has the answer: permanent tents pitched under thatch roofs, with a private bathroom shed right next door. Solar panels generate 24-hour electricity and the tents come with lounge furniture, mattresses and rugs for you to play house. Further along the beach, Ataman's Bungalows are well-sized with some of the best views due to their elevated position. The design may be lacking in finishing touches, but they're a reasonably priced option for beach bunnies.
Because it's still relatively undeveloped -- no internet, no roads, no motor vehicles -- Koh Rong Samloem has its fair share of 'private' beaches. At the end of Saracen Bay, accessed by a short path, Freedom Bungalows have their own beach, pier and spring water pool, which comes with a handy drinks table in the middle. The bungalows are not traditional wood and thatch, instead having metal roofs and tinted glass fronts behind a good-sized deck raised off the ground. The interior decor is a little heavy-going but overall it's a good place to enjoy the peace or join in the parties.
Old favourite Lazy Beach, on the western side of the island, have golden sands and magnificent sunsets on their piece of paradise. Well made bungalow accommodation is spread out for privacy in the bush behind the bay and even when the resort is full, which it often is, it never feels overcrowded. Arrive on the Lazy Beach boat, spend a few days, and you may forget the rest of the world exists. Board games, snorkelling, sunset walks and table tennis will ensure neither your brain nor your body gets too slothful. Bungalow and restaurant prices mean this is not for the budget conscious -- clientele tend to be expat friends, couples and families.
For similar sunsets at half the price, Robinson Bungalows on the next bay around offer basic cabins nestled into the edge of the jungle, overlooking the rocky end of the beach. Bathrooms are shared and there's no luxury extras such as fans, pool tables or solar power. Instead you get the real deal on a natural stay, falling asleep to the sound of monkeys and sharing your accommodation with Tokai gekkos.
If sunsets are you thing, but you prefer some proximity to other people, the aptly named Sunset Bungalows at M'Pai Bei village are just the ticket. Services are limited at the beautifully built bungalows, but the fishing village is a two-minute walk for breakfast or beers, and sandy Long Beach is a seven-minute wander away. On the way, the popular M'Pay Bay Bungalows give a taste of village life with basic budget huts and friendly staff. Like the beach but want to put some distance between you and the early morning cockerels? Koh Rong Samloem Villas have just opened up halfway down Long Beach, with a focus on diving and relaxation.
Wherever you decide to stay, we recommend booking in advance, especially around Cambodia's public holidays or in the high season. Nobody wants to be obliged to make an undignified scramble to get off the boat first and run down the beach looking for a bed. Koh Rong Samloem is for relaxing, smiling and saying "Ahhhhhhhh!" a lot.
By Abigail Gilbert
Last updated on 25th August, 2015.