Apr 09 2013
The beautiful Cambodian island of Koh Rong is hot property. Although the island has been leased to a development company with plans for high-end resorts, it is currently still a haven for backpackers and adventurous tourists who like their beaches white and their bungalows basic. With accommodation to suit most budgets, from cheap homestays to treehouses and solar-powered bungalows, here’s our pick of some of the best.
Most accommodation options are on Koh Touch beach, on the southeast side of the island and serviced by ferries from Sihanoukville. Cheap charlies should turn left off the ferry pier into Koh Touch village, where a basic ‘homestay’ at one of the three guesthouses will set you back $10-$12. If you’re a fan of village life, and don’t mind a bit of stagnant water, some litter and more cute puppies than you can fit in your backpack, this is for you. Away from the village, another budget option is AKA’s Guesthouse at Corner Bar, about 150 metres along the beach — seven basic $10 rooms with a shared bathroom, supplied with a mosquito net, safety box, and plenty of shelving and hooks. The rooms are breeze-cooled, which means you’ll be grateful for the gaps in the wooden walls.
If you’re really watching the cash, dormitories are also available. Although we admire Koh Rong Backpackers‘ dedication to providing cheap accommodation ($7 for a dorm bed), we were slightly less enamoured of the ‘Shitfaced Saturday’ sign promoting cheap drinks and general raucousness. Perhaps the idea is that you don’t care about sharing when you’ve had three too many tropical themed cocktails. If that’s your thing, enjoy. Just don’t expect any sympathy from us on the beach the next day.
For those who like the backpacker scene but prefer a bit of privacy, head to Coco’s or Monkey Island for bungalows ($25-$35) with views and beachside restaurant bars to swap stories in. Coco’s is just off the pier closest to the village, where your boat will likely come in. The bungalows are well designed and constructed, sleeping up to four in two beds. For Monkey Island, walk about halfway along the beach away from the majority of guesthouses for a bit more tranquility and a choice of beachside or jungle setting.
There’s a reason why old favourites continue to be popular. Paradise Bungalows is as sophisticated as it gets on the island, with solar powered bungalows in a tropical garden. The standard of accommodation is a few notches above anywhere else, with ensuite pebble-floored bathrooms, decent storage and tiled balconies. The prices reflect the quality, ranging from $35-$100 depending on size and location. This is definitely not a place where you can just rock up and expect a room — advance booking are recommended, particularly around highdays and holidays when you’ll be competing with expats and returning visitors in the know.
At the end of Koh Touch beach, down a little jungle path, Treehouse Bungalows offer, yep, bungalows and treehouses. Set on a small beach not shared with any other guesthouses, the bungalows are decorative and the ensuite treehouses just awesome. You may never have realised that what you really wanted was to sleep in a tree, over a tropical beach, with unending beautiful views. But you do. Especially for $35 a night.
For a truly secluded getaway, Koh Rong has even more resorts tucked away on beaches around the island. You’ll sacrifice a choice of bars and restaurants for minimal company and plenty of peace. Sok San beach, at the end of seven kilometres of blinding white sand, has two resorts next to a pretty village boasting a pool hall on the beach. Both resorts offer shoreside bungalows for $20 which will sleep four. Angkor Chum is newer and the standard of the bungalows is a little higher, but you’ll be happy enough in the Sok San Bungalows next door if you can’t get in here.
To the north of the island is the very chi-chi Song-Saa Private Island (check rates on Agoda.com), luxury with a price tag to match. If you don’t have the required $2,000 a night for an all-inclusive stay, let us direct your attention across the water to Palm Beach Resort. Arriving by boat to the jetty, it’s difficult not to catch yourself singing Club Tropicana. Newly built varnished wood bungalows ($25) are dotted around a sandy volleyball court, with an uncountable number of palm trees providing shade and a place to sling your hammock. Perfect for couples and those in need of some peaceful R&R.
Koh Touch beach, Koh Rong. T: (081) 7227 353
Koh Rong Backpackers
Dive Shop pier, Koh Touch beach, Koh Rong. T: (087) 653 100
Coco’s Bungalow Resort
Koh Touch beach, Koh Rong. T: (081) 466 880
Koh Touch beach, Koh Rong. T: (081) 830 991
Koh Touch beach, Koh Rong. T: (092) 548 883
Access from Koh Touch beach, Koh Rong. T: (016) 594 177
Sok San village, Koh Rong. T: (078) 559 959
Sok San Bungalows
Sok San village, Koh Rong. T: (092) 676 646
Song-Saa Private Island
Koh Rong, northeast side. T: (023) 860 360
Palm Beach Resort
Koh Rong, northeast side. T: (015) 485 865
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