I was sitting on a bus on my way to Sihanoukville in Cambodia, next to another traveller who looked a little worse for wear. He had a busted up leg, a black eye, and he looked like he’d just been drinking for a week. I asked him if he was ok, and what had happened to put him into this state.
He briefly looked at me, and muttered: “everything goes wrong on Koh Rong”.
Koh Rong is an island off the Southern coast of Cambodia. After Thailand’s islands experienced a frantic surge in popularity, many tourists turned to Koh Rong for a more relaxed tropical beach holiday.
There are plenty of things to do on Koh Rong, but it’s definitely going a similar sort of way to other South East Asian islands. The central town, Koh Touch, is a backpacker’s heaven (or hell), with more hostels than any traveller could visit on a stay there, bars selling ridiculously cheap beer and blaring out pop songs until 3 in the morning, and infamous beach parties.
Unfortunately, local life seems to be rather lost here.
Now, I’m not saying that Coconut Beach in Koh Rong is a local’s secret; it’s still a touristy beach, for tourists. But it’s definitely a lot more chilled out than Koh Touch, and there are some more opportunities to speak to local people and do some more nature-orientated things.
Because, while beach parties are fun, there is so much more to South East Asia.
So I decided to just spend my whole time on Koh Rong in Coconut Beach. And here’s what I put together about my time here.
Things to do on Coconut Beach Koh Rong
Enjoy the Beach
Unsurprisingly, one of the best things to do on Coconut Beach is to just kick back and enjoy the beach itself. While not one of the most famous beaches in South East Asia, Coconut Beach is a pleasant little strip of sand with plenty of space to sunbathe and chill out amongst the palms. It’s a real tropical beach and perfect for a relaxing trip.
See Glowing Plankton
At certain times of the month, there are glowing plankton around Koh Rong; and one of the best places to see them is Coconut Beach. If you stay at Coconut Beach Bungalows you’ll get the chance to go on a boat tour to see them (leaving at 4am); other accommodations may offer this as well, or just ask your receptionist where to book a tour.
Hike Through the Forest
You can hike through Koh Rong’s rainforest independently or with a guide – of course, if you are hiking independently be aware that there are snakes and other kinds of critters in the jungle here. There is also a high chance that you may get lost (this happened to me when I tried to go for a wander in the forest); but the application Maps.Me has most trails on and should help you find your way back on track.
You can also opt for a guided tour, with Coconut Beach pick-up; where you’ll be able to enjoy a more leisurely trip knowing that you won’t be walking into a venomous snake pit any second.
Do A Snorkel Tour
You can do a snorkel tour around Koh Rong, leaving and arriving back on Coconut Beach. This will enable you to see all of the best marine life around the island, with a hassle free transfer back to your accommodation! There are a few posters around Coconut Beach offering these snorkel tours.
Catch an Epic Sunrise
There isn’t much better than tropical island sunrises, and Coconut Beach is no exception. You’ll have to wake up at about 5am to see one (or if you do the glowing plankton tour, you’ll be able to catch it as you return!), but trust me, it’s well worth it.
Walk to the Fishing Village
There is a local fishing village, just 2 kilometres walk from Coconut Beach – and here is where you’ll find the authentic, beachy Cambodian lifestyle that is somewhat lost in other parts of Koh Rong.
Where/ what to eat on Coconut Beach
There are restaurants lining Koh Rong, offering a mix of Western fare and Khmer specialties. I ate a lot of spicy Cambodian soup during my stay, but there are also plenty of opportunities to get Western plates and of course, fresh juices.
- The CocoHut is the main restaurant that’s not attached to a hotel or guesthouse. It serves up curries and Western plates.
- The Coconut Beach Bungalows restaurant is also very good and reasonably priced, given the location.
Where to stay on Coconut Beach
Coconut Beach Bungalows
This was where I stayed on Coconut Beach in Koh Rong; and I loved it here. You can opt for a bungalow or a small tent, which opens out right to the beach with the sea just behind. The tents obviously got very hot, but there were doors with mosquito nets that could be opened out for a bit of ventilation. The bed was just a double mattress on the floor, and there were lockers for possessions.
These rustic bungalows are right on the beachfront, and they are reputed to have friendly staff and clean, comfortable facilities.
How to get to (and leave) Coconut Beach
First you need to get to Sihanoukville – and then you need to get out of Sihanoukville, very quickly. It’s a weird mix between a backpacker booze town and a Chinese gambling city, and honestly really isn’t a very nice place to be.
You can reach Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh, Kampot or Bangkok. The last journey is a bit of an epic involving a few different buses, but you can purchase a ticket for the whole journey here.
From Sihanoukville, you can take a boat to Coconut Beach by purchasing a ticket at one of the shops. If you stay at Coconut Beach Bungalows, they recommend using their own shop here (Google maps link). Most of the boats are the same price, but this service will arrange for someone to meet you at the other end.
It takes a while to get buses to the pier (all arranged by the boat company), queue for the boats and actually undertake the boat journey, and sometimes the boat will stop at Koh Touch first. Just keep the boat driver aware that you’re going to Coconut Beach and all should be fine.
When your time is done on Coconut Beach – you might need to drag yourself away kicking and screaming – you can get a boat back to the mainland and connect to either Phnom Penh or Kampot. I wouldn’t recommend spending much time in Sihanoukville, it’s all kinds of horrible.
You can reserve the boat and minibus at your accommodation, who will tell you where to go and take care of everything.
Travel tips for Coconut Beach and Koh Rong
- The most important Coconut Beach Koh Rong travel tip I can offer is that there is no way to get cash here. There is actually no ATM on Koh Rong, but some shops in Koh Touch will give cashback. However, you are better off getting USD (the unofficial tourist currency of Cambodia) in Sihanoukville.
- There are many mosquitos here, and it is a dengue area – bring lots of DEET, and seriously spray up. However, don’t let the threat of dengue ruin your holiday – it is still rare, but is just something to watch out for.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of things to do on Coconut Beach and travel tips! I’d highly recommend adding Koh Rong to your Cambodia trip (full itinerary coming soon!) and Coconut Beach is a perfect spot to chill out for a couple of days.
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