Located just off the coast of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, Koh Rong Samloem is Koh Rong’s stunning sister island. It is a peaceful relaxing destination with breathtaking scenery – Pristine white beaches, clear turquoise ocean waters, and a tropical jungle wilderness. A real ‘island paradise’ – As it is often called by tourists. Here’s all the information on Koh Rong Samloem’s beaches, tourism, history, geography, and villages.
(See also: About Koh Rong)
Aerial View of Saracen Bay on Koh Rong Samloem
There are many spectacular tourist locations on Koh Rong Samloem. The main tourist beach, Saracen Bay, creates a quiet lad-back atmosphere with several resorts along its front. Experience a little bit of culture at M’Pai Bay, or isolate yourself with a Robinson Crusoe style experience at Lazy Beach and Sunset Beach. To learn about all the different areas on Koh Rong Samloem, read our Koh Rong Beach Guide. For a better idea about Saracen Bay, take a look at this video:
Most people visit Koh Rong Samloem between the middle of November and the start of May, as during these months there are beautiful hot days (25°C – 40°C) with very little cloud and low humidity. Learn about the weather on Koh Rong Samloem here: Koh Rong Weather.
As of 2022, there are now 5 modern ferry services from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem. The 5 services offer modern speed boats with comfortable chairs, life jackets, and the option to buy food and drink on board. Learn more: Sihanoukville to Koh Rong.
Whether you want to lie back, unwind, and admire the magnificent views, swim in the warm refreshing ocean, explore the exotic wildlife, or learn the historic Khmer culture, the mesmerising island of Samloem is your perfect destination.Explore Samloem Hotels
There are two local villages on Koh Rong Samloem: M’Pai Bay (in the north) and Koh Rong Sanloem Phumi Kang Khnong (in the south). There is also a small hamlet in the south-west (called Phumi Kang Krau, which translate to ‘Village on the outside’). Most locals live from fishing (70%) and small scale crop cultivation (30%).
Aerial View of M’Pai Bay on Koh Rong Samloem
There used to be a very basic road network on the island which was built during the French Protectorate. Now however, the roads are barely visible and have been overgrown with vegetation. A reminder of this era is a light house in the south. This has been turned into a small tourist attraction and can be reached by foot via a 1 hour jungle walk.
View From the Light House on Koh Rong Samloem
There is a lot of spectacular wildlife on Koh Rong Samloem, including one group of monkeys that can sometimes be spotted during the Jungle Trail walk, and dazzling wild birds like the great hornbill, the kingfisher and the osprey.
Wild Hornbill on Koh Rong Samloem
Small reefs and the rocky surfaces of the sea waters are home to a fantastic variety of marine species. Divers and snorkelers regularly emphasize the abundance of delicate miniature eco-systems, seahorses, and nudibranches (see: Snorkelling on Lazy Beach, Koh Rong Samloem).
Koh Rong Samloem (also romanized as Kaoh Rong Sanloem) is located in the Gulf of Thailand, about 25km (16mi) off the coast of Sihanoukville and 4km (2mi) south of Koh Rong Island (a short 20 minute ferry trip away – see video map).
Koh Rong Samloem is roughly 9km long (north to south), 4km wide (east to west), and 1km wide at its narrowest point. The terrain on Koh Rong Samloem is mainly hilly, with a few medium-sized mountains and a maximum height of 210m (689ft) in the north-west.
Most of the island’s interior is covered in jungle forestry, with the coastline being characterised by sandstone rock formations and several beautiful beaches (there are three yellow sand beaches on the island’s western coast, 2 of which have been developed to accommodate tourism – Lazy Beach and Sunset Beach. Read our Ultimate Koh Rong Beach Guide to learn more)). The eastern side of Koh Rong Samloem is characterised by bays and headlands. This side faces towards the mainland and is less affected by weather conditions and the monsoon. Take a look at this video for some beautiful scenes of Koh Rong Samloem’s landscape:
A fantastic feature of the island is the 3km crescent shaped Saracen Bay Beach. The beautiful bay got its name from a British survey brig, HMS Saracen, that charted the area in the late 19th century. This is now the main tourist area on the island (see above).
To the north of Koh Rong Samloem is the uninhabited island ‘Koh Koun’, followed by its stunning sister island Koh Rong.
Inconsistencies on whether ‘Samloem’ or ‘Sanloem’ is the correct spelling date back to the 19th Century. Early divergence came from the map makers during French rule.
The word “Sanloem” translates to: 1) Drowsiness; 2) Far out and hard to discern. There is some uncertainty over the history of the word ‘Rong’ – Some islanders say that it refers to a historical person’s name, while others think it might refer to an old term for ‘cave’ or ‘tunnel’, or to the phrase ‘shelter island’.
Cambodia has finally launched it’s very first large-scale marine protection project – Several areas (totalling about 405km²) around the Koh Rong islands are now ‘Marine Fisheries Management Areas’.
A: The best time to visit Koh Rong Samloem is between the middle of November and the start of May. During these months you’ll have beautiful hot days with very little cloud and low humidity. To give you a rough idea of the average temperatures over this past year:
Middle of November / December / January / February: Warm and dry. 25°C daytime.
March / April / May: Hot and dry. 35°C daytime.
June / July / August: Hot and wet. 35°C daytime.
September / October / Early November: Warm and wet. 25°C daytime.
Please see our Weather Guide for more information.
A: There are now 5 modern ferry services from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem – 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 the island 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 beach (Saracen Bay) on the island. If your hotel is not on Saracen Bay, please read Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem.
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
A: Snorkeling & Scuba Diving
The Koh Rong 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 on Koh Rong Samloem.
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.
Explore the exotic jungle habitat by foot. If you’re staying on Saracen Bay (the main tourist area of Koh Rong Samloem) we would definitely recommend for you to see Lazy Beach – A 40 minute walk through the jungle trail.
Sparkling like a starry sky all around you, the bioluminescent plankton are a wonderful sight to behold at night times. Please speak to your hotel about booking a plankton tour.
A: We recommend that you bring plenty of cash, mosquito spray, sun tan lotion, and any other necessities. Saracen Bay and M’Pai Bay 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.
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.
A: There is currently no ATM on Koh Rong Samloem. However, many resorts now take card (e.g. VISA, MasterCard, etc) and you can take money out using an Eftpos terminal (10% fee). It is also possible to do a WING transfer if you are desperate for cash. Please ask someone when you are there for details.
You can 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.
A: There is currently no medical facility on Koh Rong Samloem. However, Koh Rong has a medical facility on Koh Touch (the main tourist area). Please ask someone when you are there for directions.
A: The rainy season on Koh Rong Samloem 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 island 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 Samloem in Rainy Season