This trip was unexpectedly beautiful and was exactly what I needed. Given how near it is, I’m surprised more people don’t know about it!
I started planning for this trip when my boyfriend found out he was getting a few days off work in the coming month (that doesn’t happen very often because of his job. sigh). I was excited but with less than a month to plan, I didn’t want to travel anywhere too far or expensive. I’ve been to the usual Singaporean short getaway destinations like Phuket, Krabi, Bali etc and I wanted to go somewhere different and less heard of.
I’m not even kidding, but the way that I search for beach destinations is by zooming in on the tiny specks floating around on maps to discover small islands. Obviously they are usually nearby the coastal areas of different countries. Most of them end up being inhabitable pieces of land BUT this time I discovered a little island called Koh Rong Samloem.
Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem are super close by each other, and both islands are also pretty close to the Cambodian coastal town, Sihanoukville, about 45 mins by ferry. They kind of share the same sea as Koh Samui, which you can see isn’t very far away. Sihanoukville has an airport with flights going in from Ho Chi Minh City – See Cambodia Angkor Air (They are having promotional prices for this route till 31st Oct).
GETTING TO SIHANOUKVILLE
To get to Koh Rong Samloem, you have to first get to the coastal town of Sihanoukville. The (arguably) most comfortable way to do that would be to take any flight from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City and then take a connecting flight to Sihanoukville. This is however also the most expensive option, and depending on when you’re flying, the stop-over can cause you close to half a day in waiting.
Promotion happening here: Cambodia Angkor Air
The other option – which is what my boyfriend and I went with – is to take the Cambodian Royal Railway from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. The flight from Singapore to Phnom Penh is usually very affordable, around SGD200 per person. This plus the 8 USD per person for the train tickets meant huge savings in terms of transport costs!
Although the train ride takes 7 hours, it was really enjoyable and comfortable with air-conditioning and clean toilets. Also, the views were amazing and I’d do it again in a heartbeat! The train conductors and facilitators are super friendly and nice too.
Reliable booking site that I used: Baolau
The next option I’d suggest is to take a mini-bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. After landing in Phnom Penh, you can either take a bus straight away, or stay one night in phnom penh and take the bus the next morning. Bus tickets are around the same price as train tickets at about 10 – 12 USD. The bus takes around 4-6 hours to reach Sinhanoukville. It really depends because the traffic in Cambodia is quite unpredictable and accidents are quite the norm.
In my opinion PSD Xpress seems like a reliable and quick way to get there. We booked PSD Xpress for the trip back to phnom penh, however we were there at low season and nobody else booked the bus, so we offered to move to a different bus service to save them the trouble.
Ferries from Sihanoukville
Ferries from Sihanoukville go out to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem everyday from the Serendipity Pier. The pier is about a 20 minute drive from the train station. We booked our ferry when we got to Sihanoukville but you can buy tickets online as well!
We were headed to Secret Paradise Resort at Koh Rong Samloem. This is located on Saracen Bay. Another beach with supposedly better waters is Lazy Beach but I decided on secret paradise because their bungalows looked nicer to me. The ferry took around an hour and someone was waiting at the pier to get us!
Secret Paradise Resort
The bungalows are walkable from the pier but they took us there on a smaller boat for convenience.
There are only 5 bungalows in total and ours was the second one. I fell in love the moment I saw it! It looks rustic but the toilets are really clean and well functioning, beds comfortable and the room is spacious. We spent most our time on the patio. There’s a hose outside the room to wash your legs before entering – we only realized this the next day so our room got sandy anyway. The view from the patio is so calming.
The next morning we booked a snorkeling trip for 20usd per person. We saw a bunch of different colorful fishes and some huge corals too. Pretty cool!
So I’d totally recommend coming here because it’s totally worth the traveling and I wish I’d stayed longer. ❤
I wanted to check out the beach on the coast of Sihanoukville too and read about how the quietest beach is called Otres 2. So I stayed at Ren Resort which sits on Otres 2. What’s nice is that the staff makes the effort to clean up their part of the beach. The rooms were super nice. We got the pool access room and it felt like a treat after all the traveling.
In case you’re curious, our 5 days were spent like this:
Day 1 – Land in Phnom Penh, stay in Sun & Moon Urban Hotel (because it’s near the train station)
Day 2 – Board train at 7.30am and reach Sihanoukville at 2pm. Ferry to Koh Rong Samloem at 3pm and check in to Secret Paradise Resort at 4pm.
Day 3 – Snorkel from 10 to 2, ferry back to Sihanoukville at 4pm. Check in to Ren Resort at 5pm.
Day 4 – Bus back to Phnom Penh at 8am and reach at 2pm. Check in to iRoHa Hotel at 3pm.
Day 5 – Flight back to Singapore.
Pretty rushed trip but 5 days were all we could afford in terms of time so we just went with it. It was totally worth it in my opinion. I liked how we were always looking forward to go the next accommodation and area was going to be like.
Hope other beach lovers check out this hidden treasure in Cambodia too ❤