If you’re dreaming of a Cambodian island getaway, it’s not too early to start planning!
There are a number of islands that are an easy trip from Phnom Penh via Sihanoukville — here are my top choices:
This island is one of the most beautiful in Cambodia, or the Gulf of Thailand. On Koh Rong placid turquoise waters lap against sparkling white sand beaches. The island is remarkably undeveloped and there’s not a lot to do — you’ll have to be content with jungle hikes, diving, snorkeling and sitting on the beach drinking Cambodia beer. For food there’s a Thai chef offering her native fare and not one, but two Italian chefs who’ve made the island home and dishing up pasta and pizzas out of a wood-fired oven for visitors. You can also get inexpensive seafood dinners for very little. Check out the best places to stay on Koh Rong.
Also known as Bamboo Island, Koh Russei is only an hour by boat from Sihanoukville, which makes it one of the easiest islands to get to from Phnom Penh. Accommodations are very basic and all bungalows have shared toilets. But if you’re looking for a crowd and a party, this old favorite is the place to go.
Koh Rong Sanloem
My two favourite places to stay are on opposite sides of Koh Rong Sanloem and offer two very different experiences. Lazy Beach is where embassy employees go to get away — the bungalows are large, clean and well-maintained and even picky types will have a hard time finding fault with their setup. They’ve also got a badminton net, volleyball setup, lots of board games and table tennis. The bungalows at M’pay Bay are more rustic and less relaxing — you stay just next to a fishing village and will almost definitely get woken up by roosters crowing. But that’s the appeal of the place, getting to see a rural Cambodia village up close without being on some weirdly invasive danger trip.