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Golden House International Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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Getting to the Islands...
Several daily boats, both speed ferries and slow boat ‘backpacker ferries,’ run between Sihanoukville and the two big islands of Koh Rong (KR) and Koh Rong Sanloem (KRS.)

All of the speed ferries depart Sihanoukville at the Serendipity Beach Pier. Most follow a triagular course, stopping at both Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, and then returning to Sihanoukvlle. The ferries take 30-50 minutes from the mainland to the island and 15 minutes between islands. At Koh Rong all ferries stop at Koh Toch Beach. At Koh Rong Sanloem, all ferries stop at Saracen Bay, and some also stop at M’Pay Bay on the northern point. The price is $20 round trip with an open return. Shop around for special price deals.

The ‘backpacker ferry’ takes 2.5 hours one way and offers a leisurely paced, budget price, local experience. $10 return, departing at 8:00AM and 2:00PM.

The smaller islands usually have daily private boats arranged by the guesthouses. Another way to get to smaller islands is to take one of the island-hopping day cruises out of Sihanoukville for about $15, get off at the island and then just stay. If you let them know, most cruise boats will let you treat your ticket as open ended.
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Other Islands

Closer to shore than the big islands and completely undeveloped, Koh Ta Kiev is a lovely island with come-and-go beachside camping and simple treehouse accommodation. Lovely yellow sand beaches dotted with pine trees offer the perfect spot for reading and relaxing. The kind of ‘forgotten island’ that will not last in the face of expanding development. The island also offers many bird-watching and snorkeling opportunities.

Located off Ream National Park at the eastern edge of the archipelago is Koh Thmei, an island on the brink of development but is still blissfully quiet. Flanked by mangrove forests and home to more than a hundred species of birds, the island offers splendid sunset views and the chance to stay in a compound of ecologically minded bungalows that are set up with solar power and a special water filtration system. (Koh Thmei Resort.) Otherwise Koh Thmei is as yet still almost completely untouched and receives very few visitors.

Koh Russei used to be favored by backpackers. Very basic bungalows hugged the shore. Alas, that is all finished. The island has been slated for development and is currently undergoing the first stages. There are no accommodations (even camping) on the island.

Further offshore are Koh Tang and Koh Prins, which are only reachable by boat, a trip that can take as much as eight hours. These islands offer what are said to be the best diving opportunities in Cambodia, but visits must be chartered or arranged through a diving outfit.
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Koh Rong Sanloem (Samloem)

(map) Koh Rong Sanloem (or Samloem) is the somewhat smaller and more tranquil of the big two islands. While offering a wide variety of accommodations and restaurants, especially on Saracen Bay and M’Pay Bay, the island has a generally more tranquil and peaceful atmosphere than Koh Rong and Koh Toch Beach.

Saracen Bay on the land side of Koh Rong Sanloem is the busiest beach, sporting several restaurants and accommodations from cheap and cheerful to upscale bungalows. Saracen Bay (and M’Pay Bay) is also where the Sihanoukville ferries docks, and is the place to pick up boats to other beaches on island and to Koh Rong. A few guesthouses dot the beaches on the west side of the island, which is a moderately easy 1km walk across the island from Saracen Bay. M’Pay Bay village on the northern corner of the island also has several guesthouses and a couple of good restaurants.

Getting to Koh Rong Sanloem is easy. There are several daily speed ferries and slow boats from Sihanoukville and from Koh Rong. By speed ferry it is a 40-50 minutes ride from Sihanoukville and only about 10 minutes from Koh Rong. The slow boat takes about 2.5 hours from Sihanoukville.

Besides lounging in the sun there’s plenty to do on Koh Rong Sanloem - most of the usual island activities - snorkeling, trekking, mountain biking, inexpensive boat cruises, fishing and some pretty good scuba diving opportunities. There are a few foreign-run dive outfitters on the island that offer fun dive and certification, including The Dive Shop with an office on Saracen Bay.

There are no banks or ATMs on Koh Rong Sanloem and very few places accept credit cards. Bring the money that you will need. And though there is phone and internet, it can be spotty.
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Map - Islands: Koh Rung / Koh Rung Samloem, Cambodia
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The Islands near Sihanoukville

The largest and most developed of the islands is Koh Rong (map), located 40-50 minutes by express ferry or 2.5 hours by standard ferry (see page 72.) This island is one of the most beautiful in the archipelago, with miles of white sand beaches, gently swaying palms and tropical fruit orchards. It also has one of the most ‘developed’ beaches - Koh Toch - at least in terms of the number of bungalows, guesthouses and restaurants.

Koh Rong offers guest houses and bungalows and bungalows and more are springing up every day, ranging from dormitories and inexpensive home stays to flashpacker accommodations and fancier, well-appointed family-sized bungalows.

KOH TOCH BEACH (map) at the southeastern tip of the island is where most of the accommodations are situated, and it's the busiest part of the island, with nightly beach barbecues, music and fire dancers into the wee hours, not to mention the Full Moon Parties. If this isn't your cup of tea, there are more secluded options located around the island including Long Beach on the sunset side of the island offering a few rustic bungalows.

For those looking for something a little more luxurious, just off of Koh Rong are two private islands known as SONG SAA (‘sweethearts’) that are home to an all-inclusive five-star resort, the first of its kind in Cambodia.
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The Islands of Cambodia
Paradise Found, briefly

A side destination from Sihanoukville just a couple of years ago, the islands of the Koh Rong Archipelago have become destinations in their own right. Set in the turquoise-blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand 30-50 minutes off the Sihanoukville coast, the two big islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem are the most popular. Both have yet to see major development and though there are bungalows and resorts dotting most of the beaches, the islands still maintain a laid-back rustic charm not easily found elsewhere. The smaller islands of the archipelago like Koh Thmei and Koh Ta Kiev are completely undeveloped and offer a true Robinson Crusoe atmosphere. Most of the islands are slated for major development, so if you're looking to appreciate the rustic atmosphere, go sooner rather than later.
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5/27/18
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Other Beaches
Prek Treng Beach
Another distant beach, Prek Treng is a long, wide crescent of brilliant white sand a few kilometers north of town, offering comparatively warm shallow waters. The beach is in good shape, groomed and landscaped, but is usually all but deserted. Picnickers do show up on the weekends and sometimes during the week, but there are rarely more than a few groups there. Sometimes a couple of food shacks stand open at the near end. To get there follow Hun Sen Beach Drive north a few kilometers past the port area. Best to bring along some of your own drinks and snacks.
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Other Beaches
These ‘other’ beaches are outside of the town area and are frequented more by fishermen than tourists, though this is slowly changing. Road conditions can be challenging, especially in the wet season.

Ream Beach
A distant beach, 27 kilometers north of town, Ream Beach is long and narrow, sitting at the edge of Preah Sihanouk (‘Ream’) National Park. The beach is largely untouristed and of very average quality. Long but very narrow with a mix of fine and coarse light tan sand.
The road toward Naval Base offers a nice little oceanside drive and sections are lined with water’s edge seafood shacks and a thin beach - the kind of places with hammocks as well as chairs and tables, and serving seafood BBQ, steamed and fried fish, seafood soups, fried rice, sates and the like.
From Sihanoukville take National Route #4 18km north to the Airport turnoff road at Ream. Turn right onto the Airport Road, and go straight on 9km to the ocean, passing along the edge of Ream National Park. At the ocean, the road to the right traces Ream Beach, which is largely deserted. The road to the left follows more narrow beach and rocky ocean's edge to the Naval Base.
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Sokha Beach

Occupying all of Sokha Beach, the Sokha Beach Resort offers luxury accommodation and fine dining. Sokha Beach is a beautiful beach, a crescent of sand about one kilometer long and comparatively wide. The fine pearl white sand is perfectly groomed these days but the beach is fairly quiet, frequented primarily by resort guests. There aren’t any little seafood shacks, but dining gazebos and an up-market beach bar / restaurant run by the Sokha Beach Resort.
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Victory Beach

(map of Victory Beach/Hill area)

Victory Beach sits at the base of the popular Victory Hill. Victory Beach offers one of the best sunset views in town but unfortunately the beach is partially closed and there are no longer any bbq shacks or other vendors. Farther north along Victory the beach narrows and a few upscale seafood restaurants hug the water’s edge and a couple of casinos can be found on the beach road.

Above Victory Beach, Victory Hill offers a variety of guesthouses, restaurants and bars. Several places, both budget and mid-range dot the side of the Hill overlooking the ocean, some offering excellent sunset views.

The very top of hill is one of Sihanoukville’s nightlife hotspots. The hilltop road is lined with hostess bars, music and sport bars as well as a few restaurants. After dark the street come to life, some places staying open into the early morning.

Hawaii Beach at the far southern end of the Victory Beaches is fairly busy these days, and is much more popular with Cambodian beach-goers than foreign tourists. Like the other major beaches, Hawaii is lined with umbrellas and chairs and little beach shack bars and restaurants.
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1/11/18
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