How to meet your (very) basic needs on the island.
Koh Rong Sanloem expats generally live part-time in Sihanoukville. Even if they don’t, they head to the mainland for essentials like shopping and medical care. Check out our list of list of Sihanoukville expat essentials, from groceries to veterinarians.
Many businesses and expats send their laundry to Sihanoukville, but if you’re only on the island on a short-term basis, there are options there, too. Guesthouses that offer laundry services can be found on all parts of the island. Laundry is done by hand with well water (which can have quite high mineral content), so it’s probably not the best place to have your whites washed. On Saracen Bay you can get laundry done at Homestay Resort. In M’phey Bei there are several shops that offer laundry services for $1/kg and it takes about a day. The cleverly named ’23’ all-purpose restaurant and booking office on Pier 23 (in Village 23, aka M’phey Bei) claims to do the best laundry on the island, and we believe them.
Phone and internet
Depending on which phone company you use and which part of the island you’re on, reception on the island can be spotty or not available at all. If you want to make sure you’ll have phone and internet access while you’re on Koh Rong Sanloem, pick up a Smart SIM card for $1 or $2 and some credit in Sihanoukville before you head to the island. They have several different plans that are constantly changing, but at the time of writing you could get 1.5 GB for $1, and 4G coverage is available (sometimes). It’s also possible to create a hotspot with your phone to connect your laptop to the internet.
Groceries and supplies
There’s not much in the way of shopping on Koh Rong Sanloem. There are no shops or minimarts on Saracen Bay or Sunset Beach. There’s a bit more in M’phey Bei Village. If you head towards the beach from the village, just before the concrete bridge there are several shops selling a limited range of groceries, tools, DIY supplies, household goods, and snacks. If you’re looking for toothpaste, fish sauce, or instant noodles, this is the place to go. They also have a community pool table here, if you want to sink a few with the locals.
In the center of the village there’s a minimart that’s more tourist oriented, the Happy Dragon Mini Mart. In addition to the usual snacks and beer, they also sell sunblock, mosquito repellent, and basic first-aid supplies.
If you’ve been on the island too long and are starting to look like a cast member of Survivor, never fear! Just over the concrete bridge on the way to the beach adjacent to M’phey Bei Village, there is a beauty salon offering manicures, pedicures, and haircuts. We haven’t availed ourselves of their services, but every time we passed the place was full.
Most Koh Rong Sanloem pet owners head to Sihanoukville for emergencies and when their animals need most kinds of care. The Phnom Penh Animal Welfare Society (PPAWS), brings qualified veterinarians to Koh Rong every three months or so, offering a wide range of animal care, including vaccinations and surgeries. Less often they come to Koh Rong Sanloem, but if you’re looking for care for the island dogs, we suggest you contact PPAWs or Pups in Paradise (an organization that works with village dogs on Koh Rong) so they can help organize a veterinary visit.
Koh Rong Sanloem expats
Living on the island? Here’s how to keep up.
You can keep up with the latest island gossip on the “Koh Rong Community – Locals & Expats” Facebook page. It’s a very active group that, while focused on Koh Rong, covers issues and provides information relevant to Koh Rong Sanloem as well.
There’s also a Facebook page for the M’phey Bei community that acts as a noticeboard, but because it’s a page rather than a group it doesn’t facilitate great communication.
Koh Rong Sanloem Community is another Facebook page, mostly in Khmer, that likewise acts as a noticeboard because it’s a page rather than a group.
If you’re going to be staying on Koh Rong Sanloem for a while, it’s also worth checking out the Sihanoukville expat resources to stay up to date on what’s happening on the mainland. News that affects the islands — like ferry information — gets posted in the Sihanoukville Facebook groups first.
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