The rainy season has just ended here in Cambodia, so we thought we’d write a little bit about why you should visit Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem during this less popular time period (usually middle of May to early November).
We are quite surprised by how few tourists there are over these couple of months. It is true that it’s not as hot and there’s the occasional short burst of heavy rain, but there are several positives that perhaps people don’t realise.
1) Swimming Under Tropical Showers
Firstly, Cambodia stays hot throughout the year, so although there’s no scorching sunshine in the rainy season, the ocean stays a perfect temperature for swimming. On top of this, there’s something quite wonderful about swimming under the tropical showers, and the views of the rain hitting the ocean waters are truly spectacular.
A woman swimming on Koh Rong
2) Half Price Accommodation
Secondly, all accommodation is half price or thereabouts, giving you fantastic value for your money. On Koh Rong Samloem, for instance, you can now stay in a great resort for $30-$40 per night.
3) Swimming in Waterfalls
Thirdly, there are several superb attractions that you can’t enjoy during peak season. Our favourite, for example, is the waterfall on Koh Rong Samloem. Right beneath there’s a swimming pool and a bar area – Ideal for lying back in the jungle waters and admiring the views with a nice cold drink. During peak season, the waterfall becomes less powerful and eventually dries up completely.
Waterfall on Saracen Bay
4) Easier to Explore the Islands
Fourthly, the lack of scorching sunshine makes it much easier to explore the islands. Trying to walk 1-2km in the extreme heat is exhausting, to say the least. There are several good walks on the islands and many spectacular places to see, so if you’re of the exploring type, these conditions are ideal for you.
A man walking on Long Set Beach, Koh Rong
5) Better Snorkelling and Fishing
Finally, if you enjoy activities like snorkelling and fishing, the rainy season provides some of the best times to go – The rain helps to clear the ocean waters, and, in general, there is more fish / wildlife around.
One thing to note
One thing to note however… If you’re planning to visit Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem during the rainy season, we’d recommend you stick to the main tourist areas. These are Koh Touch on Koh Rong and Saracen Bay on Koh Rong Samloem (as well as Sok San Beach Resort). The reason for this is that to get to the other less-touristy areas you will usually need to take a small connection boat. These boats can’t handle larger waves, so you may struggle to get to and from your destination.
Q: How do I get to Koh Rong?
A: There are now 5 modern ferry services from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Island – Speed Ferry Cambodia, Island Speed Boat Cambodia, Buva Sea, Angkor Speed Ferry, and GTVC. (There are also a couple of $5-$10 ‘Slow Boat’ services that take 1.5 – 2.5 hours – These services are not professionally run and are not recommended).
It will take about 40 minutes to get to your destination if it’s the first stop. If the boat first stops elsewhere, it may take 1 hour or so.
All 5 services will charge roughly $25 return, though prices can vary depending on time of year, special offers, etc. All services leave from the Ochheuteal (AKA ‘Serendipity’) pier in Sihanoukville and go to the main tourist beaches on the islands. If your hotel is not on the main beaches (Koh Touch / Saracen Bay), please read Sihanoukville to Koh Rong.
The 5 services offer modern speed boats with comfortable chairs, life jackets, and the option to buy food and drink on board. Not all of the ferries have air-conditioning, but once the boats set off there is a strong cool breeze throughout the sitting areas which more than makes up for it.
All ferry services tend to be very busy – we strongly recommend you buy your tickets in advance. You can buy your tickets online now here: Book Ferry Tickets Online Now
Q: Where are the best beaches?
A: There are many wonderful beaches on Koh Rong. To give you an idea, here are three beaches that we like (please read our Beach Guide to learn more):
1) Lonely Beach – Possibly the best beach on the islands (even bettering Lazy Beach on Koh Rong Samloem), is Lonely Beach to the northern side of Koh Rong Island. Although it is not in the most convenient location, it really is absolutely stunning. The small alcove feels like a real island-paradise, with crystal clear ocean waters, soft white sandy beaches, and tall palm trees all around. The atmosphere is quite serene – so peaceful and quiet with just a few crickets chirping in the background. There are very few people around, so you feel quite isolated and secluded out in a truly beautiful setting.
2) 4K Beach (Long Set Beach) – We would say that 4K beach is number two on the list, though there are now several resorts built along this wonderful stretch of white sand, sparkling turquoise ocean, and tropical jungle wilderness. What’s great about this beach, apart from the stunning scenery and inviting pristine waters, is that it’s a short walk away from the main tourist area on Koh Rong Island (Koh Touch).
3) White Beach – At number 3 we are going to put White Beach – A 10 minute walk from the main pier on Koh Touch. Admittedly, there are probably better beaches, but the convenience of White Beach and the quality of the resorts around this area push it up a place or two. Despite what you might read elsewhere, this far side of Koh Touch is not a party location and does not suffer from the same setbacks that other more popular areas experience. The beach on this part of the touristy stretch is clean and well-kept, with soft white sands and beautiful clear ocean waters.
Q: What activities are there?
A: Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
The islands are known for their stunning underwater panorama. Whether it’s snorkeling or scuba diving that you’re after, there are plenty of superb locations.
Kayaking & Paddle Boarding
Enjoy the crystal clear ocean waters by Kayaking or paddle boarding your way around – An ideal activity for couples and families alike.
Mountain Biking & Jungle Trekking
Explore the exotic jungle habitat by foot or via a mountain bike.
Sparkling like a starry sky all around you, the bioluminescent plankton are a wonderful sight to behold at night times.
Jet Skiing & Windsurfing
For some fast paced action on the beautiful clear waters, hire Jetskis or Windsurf.
To learn more, please read our Activities Guide.
Q: Is Koh Rong a party place?
A: Please ignore what you might read elsewhere – Koh Rong is NOT just a party place! Yes, the main tourist area, Koh Touch, has a reputation for being quite lively, but there are MANY other areas that are peaceful, relaxing, and truly mesmerising. Even on Koh Touch itself there are beautiful, quiet areas a little further down the beach. Please read our Hotel Guide and Beach Guide for more information.
Q: Where can I see the glowing plankton?
A: Sparkling like a starry sky all around you, the bioluminescent plankton are a wonderful sight to behold at night times. Although this phenomenon is abundant on the islands, the glowing plankton can only be seen in places with very little light pollution.
As such, if you’re staying on Koh Touch (the main tourist area on Koh Rong) or on Saracen Bay (the main tourist area on Koh Rong Samloem), the easiest way for you to see the plankton is by booking a boat tour (you can also walk to Police Beach on non-party nights (15 minutes left from the main pier) and Tree House Bungalows (15 minutes right from the main pier) on Koh Touch, or make your way to Long Set Beach around the corner from Koh Touch).
For more information, please read: Glowing Plankton on Koh Rong
Q: What should I bring with me?
A: We recommend that you bring plenty of cash, mosquito spray, sun tan lotion, and any other necessities. Both islands have small shops where you can buy most of what you might need, but prices can be inflated so it’s a good idea to stock up on the essentials before you go.
Q: Is it easy to get a Cambodian Visa?
A: Yes – it is generally very easy to get a Cambodian Visa. Although there are tighter restrictions for Business Visas (which now require a Cambodian work permit), the Tourist Visa (1 month stay) is very straight forward and can be obtained at the airport / border crossing as you arrive. If you’d like to skip the ques, you can buy your visa online now here: Buy a Visa Online Now.
Q: Is there an ATM on the islands?
A: Although there is no ATM as such, you can still get cash out at any of the three Eftpos terminals on Koh Touch (the main tourist area on Koh Rong Island). There is an Eftpos terminal at Green Ocean Guesthouse, White Rose Guesthouse, and Koh Lanta.
Q: Is there a medical facility on Koh Rong?
A: There is a medical facility on Koh Touch (the main tourist area on Koh Rong Island). Please ask someone when you are there for directions.
Q: Is it a family-friendly place?
A: Yes, there are many quiet, family-friendly places on the islands. Please see our Hotel Guide and Beach Guide to learn more.
Q: When is the rainy season?
A: The rainy season on Koh Rong Island is from the middle of May to early November. During these months there will be short bursts of heavy rain during the day. One thing to note is that, although it is wonderfully hot throughout the peak season, there are several advantages of visiting the islands during the rainy season.
For example, those that visit during the rainy season get to enjoy half-priced accommodation and beautiful rainy scenes, and because it never gets too cold in Cambodia, swimming in the ocean is still a very pleasurable experience (the water rarely drops beneath 25°C). Take a look at this article for more information: 5 Reasons to Visit Koh Rong Island in Rainy Season
Q: Where was Survivor Kaoh Rong filmed?
A: Koh Rong Cambodia has hosted the popular reality programme ‘Survivor’ several times.
In 2012, a special edition of the French Survivor (‘Koh Lanta’) was filmed near Sok San Village with an All-Star cast. The production team returned in 2013 and again in 2016 to film the regular editions.
In 2015, the American version of Survivor produced Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia – Second Chance) and season 32 (Survivor: Kaoh Rong – Brains vs Brawn vs Beauty) on Koh Rong Island.
The 16th edition of Expedition Robinson (Sweden’s Survivor) was also filmed on the island.