Travelers guide to Cambodia’s southern islands – Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem and Koh Ta Tiev

How to get to Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem and Koh Ta Tiev and what to expect when you get there.

Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem and Koh Ta Tiev are three beautiful islands off the south coast of Cambodia. Each one has something different to offer and they’re well worth a visit but getting to them can be a bit confusing. Below we will let you know how we got around these picture postcard islands and what we found there.

First off, get to Sihanoukville

We were in Siem Reap so took a really cheap flight down to Sihanouk International Airport. We would advise not spending much time in Sihanoukville. Get an early flight so you can get to the island of your choice the same day.

Grab App don’t work in Sihanoukville, Pass App does but we didn’t have WiFi in the airport. In the arrivals building there is a taxi kiosk to the right. All taxis are $20 so we teamed up with another couple and split the bill. Your heading for Yasmine – a bar/restaurant on Seredipity Beach Street. It’s not that cheap and the food isn’t amazing but it’s a good base for you use to go out and get tickets from.

Duration: 40 – 45 minutes Cost: $20 for a 5 seater taxi

Which ferry company?

OK so this is where it gets a little confusing… there are at least 4 companies sailing to each island and each island has a number of different ports. In this article we will describe the journey we took. There are other companies and to be honest, they all have similar 3 out of 5 star reviews. We travelled with Buva Sea. There’s also Speed Ferry Cambodia who Mad Monkey schedule their shuttle boats along side. More on that later. Key things to remember whoever you travel with:

  • SUPER TIP Most of the companies have an online ticket service. HOWEVER the only return ticket you can buy online is to the port you travelled from. If you buy at a kiosk however, you will be able to use the return ticket to get to another island.
  • If you haven’t got a ticket, arrive in plenty of time. Tickets are first come first serve and it gets busy quickly.
  • Some boats leave at the same time so the pier can feel pretty hectic. Keep your kit and your travelling companions close.
  • Don’t be alarmed if you’re sat on the boat for a while before going anywhere, the boats rarely leave at their supposed time.

Sihanoukville to Koh Rong – Coconut Beach

We went to the Buva Sea ticket office to get our tickets to Koh Rong. It’s just across the road from Yasmine. The boats to Koh Rong are 08:00, 11:00, 14:00 and 17:00. We bought our tickets around 09:30 for the 11:00 boat and it was already filling up.

The main boat to Koh Rong goes to the Koh Rong community pier. We had decided to go to Coconut Beach. LET THEM KNOW! Your ticket is a lanyard and on this they will put a yellow sticker with CB written on it.

At this point, we found out we could buy a return ticket to a different island! So our return ticket would be from Koh Rong Sanloem. We were given a phone number and told to ring and give 24 hours notice.

The boat to Coconut Beach was not the large boat at the end of the pier, it was a smaller boat that was moored behind the restaurant on the pier. Show them your yellow sticker and you’ll be fine.

Duration: 40 – 45 mins Cost: $25 return – can be another island

Staying on Coconut Beach

It’s paradise. Trust us. The accommodation however can be hit and miss. We originally booked with Coconutbeach Bungalows for 5 nights in a private room with shared bathroom. It really wasn’t great, despite the great reviews on booking.com. They also offer tents and private bungalows but they were expensive.

After 2 nights we moved to Bunnan Beach Bungalows. We got a basic but clean en-suite bungalow with twin double beds and a veranda. It was great! We were really happy we moved and the woman who dealt with our booking was great.

Price: $25 for bungalow (walk in price)

There’s some great food on Coconut Beach. Everything’s close by and there’s enough variety to eat at a different place each day. Prices vary from $3 – $5 for a cooked breakfast and $3 – $7 for a main. Here are our favourites:

  • The Cocohut – had breakfast here most days. Small breakfast – Bacon, eggs, beans and bread $3 Ice coffee $1.25. Evening meals/drinks good too, red curry is great Really nice vibe. Shout out to Da, the Cambodian Northerner! Top lad.
  • Bunnan Restaurant – food OK, best G&T we found, only $2 any time.
  • Sunrise Restaurant – decent cocktails 2 for 1 during happy hour 5 til 7 – $3.50 each. Cashew chicken was great.

Koh Rong to Koh Rong Sanloem

After 5 days of chilling it was time for some partying. Our next stop was Mad Monkey on Koh Rong Sanloem. To get there you need to get to Saracen Bay, then a Mad Monkey shuttle boat will take you to their private bay. (swanky) The collection times are 10:00, 12:30 and 16:00 which is great if you’re getting the Speed Ferry Cambodia from Sihanoukville, which we weren’t. If you’re just going to Mad Monkey, get your ferry ticket from Sihanoukville from Speed Ferry Cambodia.

We thought we’d have to get a water taxi from Coconut Beach to Saracen Bay and wait ages for the Mad Monkey shuttle boat but we managed to get a water taxi from Coconut Beach directly to the Mad Monkey bay!

Time: 10:00 daily Cost: $10 per person Duration: 50 mins (there was a drop off at Koh Rong Community Pier first)

Staying at Mad Monkey

Was great fun. Even though we were some of the older guests we had a great time. They have their own private bay and their recipe is simple – party, sleep, recover, repeat. It’s not easy to get anywhere else on the island from here so they got you for all meals and drinks but that’s fine if you’re aware before going in. Because of this food is a little pricey but portions and quality are good. Breakfast was $3 – $6 with healthy options available. Mains were $3 – $7 with traditional Khmer and western classics available. Happy hour was 15:00 – 18:00 out on their private pier – $2 G&Ts. Then it was food and party time back at the main bar. Some nights they fired up the pizza oven, others there was a fire show that the local Khmer community put on. Great fun but we were done after 3 days!

Koh Rong Sanloem to Koh Ta Kiev

To get to our third and final island we actually had to go back to the mainland. Mad Monkey shuttle boats back to Saracen Bay run at 07:15 (slow service) 09:15, 11:15 and 13:15. Again, they’re linked to the departures of the Speed Ferry Cambodia boats so if you’re just going to a Mad Monkey, go with them. There’s no reception or WiFi at Mad Monkey so we couldn’t give 24 hours notice of our return journey so we got the 09:15 shuttle, getting us to Saracen Bay around 10.00. We then went straight to the Buva Sea kiosk (it’s on the left of the pier) and booked onto the 11:45 back to the main land. Again it was first come first served so in the high season I think you’d struggle if you didn’t give 24 hours notice.

The boat was super late, arriving around 13.30. Lots of boats come and go but just stay near Buva Sea kiosk and wait until he tells you that’s the boat you want. There’s a bar/restaurant right next to it called By the Sea that you can sit in. Better than waiting in the sweltering sun on the pier!

We were back in Sihanoukville and needed to get to Otres Beach so jumped in a carriaged tuk tuk that was $7. Quite pricey but it was pretty far and Grab and Pass App didn’t work. We were staying at Kactus (unfortunately now closed!) and they provided a shuttle boat from Otres beach – one at 12.00 and another at 16.45. We got the later one. This post has all the info you need on getting to Koh Ta Kiev from Otres beach.

Au Reviour Krazy Kactus!

We were lucky enough to be some of the last people to stay in Kactus, an amazing hostel with one of the best kitchens we’ve had the pleasure of eating at. The food was honestly stunning, French/Cambodian fusion with one meat and one fish option each service. We didn’t know until we got talking to the owners that we were there for their shut down! As you can imagine it got pretty messy and was amazing fun. We were definelty worse for wear on our way back to the main land…

The beach was in a sorry state. Plastic EVERYWHERE. It was really sad and opened our eyes to the volume of crap that gets dumped into the sea. There are other places on the island and we went on a little walk to visit a few. Ten 103 is a 30 min walk through the jungle from Kactus. The beaches here are lovely and the hostel seemed great – nice, chilled setting. It’s open all season too which is a touch.

What a journey!

There you have it! It took us a while to piece together how to get to each island and where to stay. These islands are constantly under threat from Chinese investment so get to them while you can! Hope some of the information on here is some help to someone out there and saves you a bit of time.

If you found this post helpful please let us know! We would love to hear from you in the comments section below, thanks!

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