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Prepare yourself, guys.
You’re about to read (or watch) the most EPIC Koh Rong Samloem Island guide in existence.
Before we begin, I want to point out a big problem with what’s currently published online about Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia…
We did a lot of research before coming here. When we arrived, we realized almost every blog we’d read and video we’d watched was outdated…
Let me repeat.
LOTS OF THINGS YOU READ ABOUT THIS ISLAND ARE STRAIGHT UP NOT TRUE. (Even if the guide is “supposedly” from this year).
So if you’re struggling to decide whether or not Koh Rong Samloem is worth adding to your Cambodia itinerary, keep that in mind.
This place is developing FAST. Which means food and accommodation options, accessibility, trash problems, and the wifi and electricity situation is constantly changing (as you’ll see in this post).
We’ve been living here on Koh Rong Samloem for almost THREE MONTHS now, which has allowed us to discover the “secrets of the island” that most travelers don’t get the opportunity to experience.
That’s why we decided to put together this super ultimate Koh Rong Samloem guide.
Since we’ve literally done everything (multiple times), we can show you ALL the activities to do, places to visit (including some hidden spots and trails nobody else is talking about), and even some insider tips we’ve learned during our 3 months here.
Basically, this is the guide we wish we had while planning our trip to Koh Rong Samleom—one of the best islands in Cambodia.
Before we dive in, a couple notes:
#1.) Our #1 goal is to paint a REALISTIC picture of the island for you. That way, you can make informed decisions. Unlike most KRS info online, you won’t find perfectly filtered photos or descriptions that misrepresent the destination here. After all, you wanna know what the beaches REALLY look like (not how fancy of a filter someone can use). Am I right?
#2.) Since this island is constantly changing, we’ve made some local contacts to help keep it updated. If for some reason you visit the island and see any inaccuracies, let me know and I’ll update it STAT. Since tourism has halted due to the pandemic, make sure to check current conditions before traveling to Koh Rong Samloem (or Cambodia). This guide is meant to help you plan under more “normal” conditions.
#3.) Make sure to check out the FAQ section at the end that answers all the most common questions (internet, electricity, $$$, etc).
4.) If you prefer watching instead of reading, check out the video guide below (and for more detailed videos of each activity, check out our entire Cambodia playlist on Youtube)
Alright, let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- Why Koh Rong Samloem island?
- How Many Days In Koh Rong Samloem?
- Best Time to Visit Koh Rong Samloem
- How to Get to Koh Rong Samloem
- Koh Rong Samloem Map
- Where to Stay on Koh Rong Samloem (For Every Budget)
- Getting Around the Island
- Koh Rong Samloem Food
- Things To Do in Koh Rong Samloem
- #1.) Beach Hop
- #2.) Snorkel with fishies
- #3.) Climb the lighthouse
- #4.) Get lost in the jungle
- #5.) Find the best sunset
- #6.) Go Scuba Diving
- #7.) Get Tipsy on a Booze Cruise
- #8.) Hunt for the “Secret” Waterfall
- #9.) Rage at the Full Moon Party
- #10.) Swim with Bioluminescent Plankton
- #11.) Explore on Kayak (or Stand Up Paddleboard)
- #12.) Get Stretchy at Yoga Class
- #13.) Visit Koh Rong
- The Perfect Koh Rong Samloem Itinerary
- What to Pack for Koh Rong Samloem Island
- How to Stay Safe on the Island
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why Koh Rong Samloem island?
When you think of Cambodia, you don’t picture Maldive-like white sand beaches and crystal clear waters (at least we didn’t).
So you can imagine our pleasant surprise rolling up to the island and finding ourselves in complete and utter paradise.
It’s not perfect. But Koh Rong Samloem island is as close as it gets to Cambodian heaven on earth.
The big question most people have is—which island is better, Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem?
Well, we visited both islands, and they both have slightly different vibes. Koh Rong Samloem has always been known as Koh Rong’s more rustic little sister.
And while it is still rustic, Koh Rong Samloem development has transformed the island over the past few years.
You can’t go wrong with either island. If you want more budget food and accommodation options (and crazier parties), go to Koh Rong. But if you want less people, a more laid back vibe, and (mostly) cleaner beachers—Koh Rong Samloem it is.
How Many Days In Koh Rong Samloem?
That’s a toughy, guys.
The real question should be…”How many days do you have?”
As you’ll see in a second, the island is a bit out of the way if you’re coming from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.
That’s why I’d recommend a MINIMUM of two nights (and three full days) to make the journey worth it.
But the more time you’ll have, the better.
If you want to see all the best places the island has to offer (and have time to actually enjoy them), I’d recommend one week.
Check out my recommended Koh Rong Samloem itinerary near the end of this post to get an idea of what that might look like.
Best Time to Visit Koh Rong Samloem
This one depends.
Koh Rong Samloem can be divided into three seasons:
Dry season (i.e. high season) is roughly from December to March.
Shoulder seasons are April and November.
Wet season (i.e. low season) starts late April, and slowly ramps up to maximum wetness in September.
It’s scorching hot all year long, but April and May top the charts.
We were on the island from April to June, and it rained hard 40% of the time…but mainly during the night. There were only a handful of actual rainy days (although they became more frequent in June). Locals say when rainy season hits full strength, it storms about half the days but is very unpredictable.
The last thing to consider is the tides.
The beaches look WAY different depending on the level of the tides. High tide is beautiful. Low tide looks a little janky. During our time on the island, it was almost always low tide during the day and high tide at night (which kinda sucked).
One resort owner explained that this shifts throughout the year. According to him, November tides are at their highest during the day, making some of the beaches tiny. In February, tides are the perfect level, and beaches are spectacular. Then starting in April, the tides start to recede during the daytime, exposing the not-so-pretty sand underneath (this is most evident on the normally white sands of Saracen Bay).
So, to summarize…
If you go during high season, you’ll have great weather and the beach looks nicer, but it’ll be busier and prices are known to DOUBLE or TRIPLE.
If you go during wet season, you might get some rain and some of the the beaches look less picture-perfect…but you can find awesome deals and could have the place basically to yourself.
The choice is yours.
How to Get to Koh Rong Samloem
Getting to Koh Rong Samloem is an adventure in and of itself.
First, you’ll need to head to Sihanoukville…
How to Get to Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville is arguably the ugliest, most apocolypse-esque city in the world (you’ll see what I mean when you get there). Your mission is to spend is LITTLE time here as humanly possible.
To get to Sihanoukville, you can either fly or bus in from any of the other major cities. We took a sleeper night bus from Siem Reap, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget (in a bad way).
If you go by bus, make sure to buy a combination ticket that includes the ferry to Koh Rong Samloem. This not only saves money, but it’s way more convenient. It saves you the hassle of getting ripped off by a tuk tuk driver to get from the bus station to Serendipity Pier. (You can also avoid tuk tuk scams by downloading PassApp—Cambodia’s version of Uber).
Catching the Koh Rong Samloem Ferry
The one instance I wouldn’t recommend buying a combination ticket is if you’re planning to go somewhere other than M’Pay Bay or Saracen Bay. If that’s the case, arrange your ferry directly with your accommodation.
For the rest of you, if you need a ticket, head to the Serendipity Pier. The Koh Rong Samloem boat will run you around $12 one-way or $22 round trip (this may vary depending on the season).
The trip from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem should take around 30-60 minutes depending on how many stops you make (some boats go to Koh Rong first). It’s worth asking around the different ferry companies to see if any stop at your place first.
You can check Koh Rong Samloem ferry times and prices here. The prices online seem comparable to what you’d pay in person.
Pro Tip: There are two main piers on Saracen Bay. Contact your accommodation beforehand to see if they can send a boat to pick you up from the pier. If you arrive on the North Pier (Orchid Pier) and your accommodation is on the south end of the beach (or vice versa), you’re looking at a sweaty 20-minute walk with all your luggage through the sand.
Koh Rong Samloem Map
Here’s a handy map of Koh Rong Samloem I stumbled on laying outside one of the resorts.
This is one of the best maps of the island that I have seen so far.
Where to Stay on Koh Rong Samloem (For Every Budget)
The first and most important question you need to ask yourself is what beach you want to stay on. In most cases, this will be either M’Pay Bay or Saracen Bay…
M’Pay Bay vs Saracen Bay
The easiest way to decide is to choose which pros and cons are most important to you.
M’Pay Bay offers a more backpacker/hippy vibe with cheaper food and accommodation options. The downside is it’s cut off to the rest of the island. That means you’ll need to pay for boat rides if you wanna explore. There’s also more of a party scene here.
Saracen is mostly expensive bungalow resorts with a few budget-friendly options thrown in. Food is also very expensive here compared to SE Asia standards. However, on the plus side, the beach is snow white (when it isn’t low tide) and you can easily walk to explore all the best spots on the island.
Best Koh Rong Samloem Hotels
Let’s start with expensive and make our way down to cheaper options.
***Accommodation prices fluctuate DRAMATICALLY based on the season—with high season costing 2-3x as much as low season—so your best bet is to choose your budget range below, then check the prices for your specific dates.
The One Resort (High-end, Saracen)
This is where we would have stayed if we wanted to splurge. They are one of the only Koh Rong Samloem resorts with an infinity pool. Perfect for cooling off when you don’t feel like getting sandy. (Check current prices here)
Moonlight Resort (High-end, Sarecen)
Here’s where you go if you REALLY want something fancy. Moonlight has an open layout with huge modern bungalows facing the beach. Their designs are unique, and with the white sand, white dome bungalows, and ceiling skylights over the beds, it kind of feels like your actually on the moon. They also have huge apartment-sized bungalows if you’re traveling in a big group (Check current prices here).
Sweet Dreams (Mid-range, Saracen)
Sweet Dreams is right in the middle of the beach. That means you have easy access to the busier north end with lots of food options, as well as the quieter south end. It’s like the Goldy Locks of Koh Rong Samloem bungalows. Not too rustic, but also not that fancy. (Check current prices here)
Sara Resort (Mid-range, Saracen)
Sara is one of the most popular Koh Rong Samloem accommodation options. We stayed here for over a week. It’s modern, comfortable, and has a tasty restaurant. Despite its popularity, I’m a little hesitant to recommend it because we realized the owner has some shady business ethics (he also owns Sarasea and Bodega). It’s busier on this part of the beach, which may or may not be what you’re looking for. (Check current prices here)
Paradise Villas (Mid-range, Saracen)
Paradise is on the opposite side of the beach and is quieter in terms of foot traffic (making it more peaceful than the north pier area). They also have some budget bungalows available, but they’re more rustic than the rest of the options on this list. The budget options are perfect for short trips if you don’t mind some nature in your room 🦎. (Check current prices here)
Robinson Bungalows (Mid-Range, Sunset)
If you want to disconnect, Sunset Beach is the perfect place to do it. There are four accommodations on Sunset Beach, but we stayed at Robinson because it’s location is a bit more private. They offer bungalows as well as glamping tents (beware, the tents are heat boxes at night!). (Check current prices here)
Beach House Cambodia (Budget/Midrange, M’Pay Bay)
This is one of the best bangs for your buck for those looking for a private room in M’Pay Bay right on the beach. Our room had a sweet balcony with a hammock overlooking the sea. The owner is awesome and strives to give his guests the best possible experience (we loved the family dinners and theme nights!). He also gives a lot back to the community and even built a small medical center for the village. If you’re headed to M’Pay Bay, this would be my top pick. (Check current prices here).
Koh Rong Samloem Hostels
Onederz (Budget, Saracen)
Onederz is the most popular budget option for solo travelers on Saracen Bay. It has a great location right next to the mini-mart and close to many bars and restaurants. There are a handful of other hostel options scattered along Saracen Bay (some of them possibly cheaper), but Onederz seems to be the most comfortable. (Check current prices here)
Mad Monkey Hostel (Budget, Private Beach)
Mad Monkey is where you go if you’re tryin’ to party. It’s located on it’s own little secluded beach, separate from the rest of the island. For those who want to explore the rest of the island, there’s a shuttle service to Saracen Bay included in the price of the rooms. (Check current prices here)
The Cliff Hostel (Budget, M’Pay Bay)
The Cliff Hostel is one of the most popular spots in M’Pay Bay for budget backpackers. They’re known for being located on (you guessed it) a cliff that has a stunning view of the ocean. They offer both affordable private rooms as well as cheap, open-air dorms. This is the place you’ll wanna go for a beer at sunset. (Check current prices here).
Getting Around the Island
For now, the only way around the island is by foot or boat.
This is a good thing, because…
The more effort it takes to get places = Less people will go = More space for YOU
In the future, they are planning to build a paved road that connects every part of the island…so get there before the crowds do!
From Saracen, all the main attractions are within walking distance. The only place you’ll have to boat to is M’Pay Bay (supposedly there is a hiking path, but nobody can find it and I hear it’s super sketch…as in, the-last-tourist-to-try-it-got-lost-in-the-jungle-for-days type of sketch).
Koh Rong Samloem Food
Figuring out where to eat on Koh Rong Samloem without breaking the bank can be a challenge.
This is especially true for long-term travelers on a tight budget.
On Saracen Bay, expect to pay $5-$12 per meal with a drink.
Every night, many resorts offer big BBQs on the beach for $6-$10. Our favorite BBQ was at Titanic Restaurant.
The two most affordable Saracen Bay restaurants we found are Sweet Time (next to Sara Resort) and a local restaurant one minute down the path next to Octopussy Bar.
They aren’t the best restaurants on Koh Rong Samloem, but they’re the cheapest.
If you’re looking for tasty food and money is no issue, try the restaurants at The One and La Passion.
If you’re sick of Khmer food, try the themed dinner nights at Laguna Beach Resort (Burger+Beer night is on point 👌). Check their Facebook page for updated offers.
Compared to Saracen, M’Pay Bay is a bit more reasonable. But you’re still gonna fork out more than you’re used to in Southeast Asia.
If you’re starving, try the Fishing Hook’s all-you-can-eat-buffet dinner for 6-8 bucks.
Another more budget-friendly option is Mom’s Home Cooking, where a meal will only run you $2.
Orrrrrr you can be like me and fill your tummy tank all day with huge $1 fruit shakes they sell on the beach.
Apart from restaurants, there are also small shops on Saracen and M’Pay Bay that sell basic supplies like noodles, snacks, beer, personal hygiene items, etc…but expect to pay double what you would on the mainland.
Pro Tip: If you’re worried about money, I suggest stocking up on noodles and snacks in Sihanoukville. There are two supermarkets near-ish to Serendipity Pier (~$2 tuk tuk ride)—Samudera Market and Orange Market.
Things To Do in Koh Rong Samloem
Wondering what to do in Koh Rong Samloem? Here’s some fun activities to keep you busy:
#1.) Beach Hop
You could stay busy for days visiting the different beaches on the island. My personal favorite is Sunset Beach. But you also have Lazy Beach, Saracen Bay, M’Pay Bay, Clearwater Bay, Sandy Beach, Military Beach, and more.
For a more detailed breakdown of each, check out my Koh Rong Samloem beaches ultimate guide (or click on any of the beach names in the table below).
|#||Beach||Awesomeness||Ease of Access||Quick Notes|
|1||Long Beach||⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||Connected to M'Pay Bay village|
|2||Clear Water Bay||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️||Plans to build a big resort here - see it while you can!|
|3||Saracen Bay||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||Beautiful white beach (during high tide). Pricier accommodation.|
|4||Sandy Beach||⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️||More private beach with 3 resorts.|
|5||Romny Cozy Bay||⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️||Resort construction in progress. Lots of trash. Has potential.|
|6||Military Beach||⭐️⭐️||⭐️||Potential to be gorgeous, but nobody there to clean trash that washes up.|
|7||Lazy Beach||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||Great beach, but doesn't deserve it's rank as one of the top beaches in the world.|
|8||Sunset Beach||⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️||⭐️⭐️⭐️||Our fav beach on the island. Don't miss it.|
#2.) Snorkel with fishies
While you’re beach hopping, there are a few good Koh Rong Samloem snorkeling spots worth checking out.
The best spot is supposedly at the end of Lazy Beach near the rocks. We went on a choppy day and couldn’t see much. But I can see how it could potentially be cool on a calm day.
You should be able to rent a snorkel from the restaurant for a couple bucks.
Other nice spots are on Sunset Beach near the rocks in front of Robinson Bungalows, or at Cliff Hostel in M’Pay Bay. Lots of fishies there!
#3.) Climb the lighthouse
The Koh Rong Samloem lighthouse is about a 60-90 minute hike from the south end of Saracen Beach. In the past, this hike was a lot more “jungly”. But recently, they’ve widened the road for 90% of the trail (and plan on building a paved road in the future). Legend has it that once you get to the lighthouse, you can pay $1 to the man guarding it, climb to the top, and get a stunning view of the island…
But I hiked there twice, and nobody was ever there to let me in. (This may have to do with an “incident” where a traveler accidently got locked inside about a week prior).
I recommend getting an early start and adding other stops to your hike (see #4).
#4.) Get lost in the jungle
Ok it’s probably not a good idea to get LOST LOST. But it’s fun to explore, ditch the crowds, and discover the secrets of the island. Getting lost is one of the best things to do while traveling.
One of my best memories on the island was inventing my own Koh Rong Samloem hike. First I went to the lighthouse, then Military Beach, then I got off the beaten path and rock jumped for an hour around the coast to finish at Lazy Beach.
I had no idea if/when I was gonna make it, so it was quite the adrenaline rush. Check out the video below if you’re feeling adventurous and want to do the hike yourself.
#5.) Find the best sunset
Lazy Beach, Sunset Beach, Saracen Bay, M’Pay Bay…they ALL have stunning sunsets. Your mission is to find your favorite one!
#6.) Go Scuba Diving
If you’re a diver (or if you want to be), you’re in luck. There are a couple dive shops on Koh Rong Samloem—both in Saracen and M’Pay Bay—with reasonably priced PADI certification courses and fun dives.
Since these areas are still unspoilt (for the most part), your odds of running into cool underwater wildlife are pretty high.
#7.) Get Tipsy on a Booze Cruise
Many of the hostels run raging party boat tours that take you snorkeling, fishing, and beach hopping.
I know for a fact Lucky Sun Hostel runs these. And I’m sure Onederz, Mad Monkey, and hostels on M’Pay Bay have their own versions as well.
If you prefer not to mix drinking with boats (which may be a wise idea the injury-prone folk out there), there are plenty of sober boat tours as well.
#8.) Hunt for the “Secret” Waterfall
This one is only worth doing under two circumstances:
#1.) It’s rainy season. If it hasn’t been raining all the time, it’s gonna be dry.
#2.) You need a beach break. This isn’t a waterfall that’s going to blow your mind. But it’s a way to kill time if you’re bored of beach bummin’.
To get there, just walk north up Saracen Beach until you get to Freedom Bungalows (in front of Freedom Pier). From there, hang a left up the path and climb up the rocks.
There was some ugly construction going on when we were there, but if you climb further up the rocks, you don’t notice it as much.
#9.) Rage at the Full Moon Party
Bet you didn’t expect to find a full moon party in Cambodia, did ya?
These bi-monthly jungle parties weren’t running when I was on the island, but they’re something to look into if you come during high season.
From what I hear, they’re more relaxed, rustic, and smaller than what you’d find in Thailand. There’s basically no information online about them, so I’d ask around when you get here.
Other than full moon parties, if you’re looking for the best Koh Rong Samloem nightlife, M’Pay Bay (or the more secluded Mad Monkey Hostel) are where you wanna be.
#10.) Swim with Bioluminescent Plankton
I gotta be honest…
Koh Rong Samloem plankton isn’t anything to write home about.
If you’ve never seen bioluminescent plankton before, the trip might be worth it. It’s neat witnessing it for the first time.
But if you’ve done it before somewhere else — like plankton in New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Vietnam — you’ll be disappointed.
I hear on dark nights with no moon, you can see the plankton right on the beach at Laguna Resort (at the far south end of Saracen Bay) or on Long Beach (near M’Pay Bay). If you stop there for dinner, it’s worth dipping your toes in the water to check.
#11.) Explore on Kayak (or Stand Up Paddleboard)
The protected Saracen Bay is normally very calm and perfect for paddleboard and kayak adventures.
With an early start and a calm day, you can even go all the way to Clear Water Bay or Sandy Beach for a change of scenery.
Some resorts have free kayaks and paddleboards for guests. If not, you can rent them for $5-$7 per hour.
#12.) Get Stretchy at Yoga Class
Yoga on Koh Rong Samloem is kinda a big deal.
Classes are constantly changing based on instructors that come and leave the island. To find the next yoga sesh, ask your resort, look for signs on the beach, or post in the Koh Rong Samloem Facebook Group.
Some will cost a couple dollars, while others might be included with your accommodation.
#13.) Visit Koh Rong
If you’ve got the time, it’d be a waste to come all the way out here and totally skip the bigger, slightly crazier island of Koh Rong.
Koh Rong has its own unique charm (and no shortage of stunning white sand beaches).
Koh Rong is busier than Koh Rong Samloem, but it’s also slightly cheaper—your wallet will thank you for it!
The Perfect Koh Rong Samloem Itinerary
Knowing what I know now, here’s how I’d plan an epic itinerary for Koh Rong Samloem:
- Day 1: M’Pay Bay—explore village and jungle
- Day 2: M’Pay Bay—hike to Clear Water Bay, sunset at The Cliff
- Day 3: Saracen Bay—chill on Saracen Beach
- Day 4: Saracen Bay—yolo hiking loop to lighthouse, Military Beach, and Lazy Beach (see video above for details)
- Day 5: Saracen Bay—booze cruise or other tour
- Day 6: Sunset Beach—overnight trip to Sunset Beach (store big luggage on Saracen)
- Day 7: Saracen Bay—return to Saracen and chill on the other end of the beach
After that, I’d head over to Koh Rong to explore for another week. 🏝
What to Pack for Koh Rong Samloem Island
We all know what type of clothes to pack for the beach, so I won’t bore you with that.
Instead, here are some other items you’ll be glad you packed for the island:
Headlamp – Nothing worse than walking through the jungle in the dark, praying you don’t step on a scorpion.
Bug spray – You’ll wanna carry this with you at all times. Skeeters and sand flies can be brutal depending on where you’re staying.
Sun screen – This will cost your dearly if you have to buy it on the island.
Hat – To protect your face from drying up like a raisin in the Cambodian sun.
Powerbank – You’re gonna be taking lots of photos…wouldn’t want that battery to die early!
Gopro (or cheap alternative ) – Great for photoshoots with fishies in the clear water.
Xenvo lens – This handy lens will transform how you take pics with your phone. We never leave home without it.
Dry bag – On the island, when it rains, it pours. Keep your valuables dry.
Waterproof phone pouch – Super handy for kayaking and paddleboarding.
Selfie stick with tripod – Tripods are clutch for taking amazing beach photos of yourself.
Fanny pack – I wear this every day. Way more comfortable than carrying a big backpack or jamming your pockets full of stuff.
Kindle – Nothing more relaxing than hammocking on the beach reading your Kindle.
Bluetooth speaker – Kills awkward silences. Also great for scaring away dangerous animals while hiking in the jungle.
Drone – This island is a droners dream come true. I seriously considered buying a Mavic Mini JUST for this island.
Pacsafe portable safe – If you travel with a laptop or other expensive equipment, this will give you peace of mind when there’s nowhere
to lock up your stuff. We used this every day on the island.
First aid kit + medicine – Don’t expect to find many first aid supplies on the island. It’s best to bring your own kit just in case.
Ear plugs – Depending on where you’re staying, you might have a lot of noise at night.
Snacks from Sihanoukville – Slash your expenses by stocking up on snacks before you get here.
How to Stay Safe on the Island
There are NO hospitals the island (other than a basic med center staffed by a volunteer nurse in M’Pay Bay). That means, be careful and don’t do anything stupid!
When hiking through the jungle, make sure to stay on the trails and don’t go out after dark. The jungle is teeming with dangerous beasts you won’t wanna cross paths with (poisonous snakes, scorpions, gigantic buffalo, bigfoot, etc.)
This is not the place you want to get nipped by a king cobra.
Before you come to the island make sure you hook yourself up with some travel insurance. Safetywing is cheap and has saved me over $15,000 in medical bills.
Frequently Asked Questions
Depends on your definition of expensive. Compared to Southeast Asia standards? Yes, it’s very expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, your best bet is staying in M’Pay Bay, a hostel in Saracen Bay, or sharing a bungalow with travel friends. You’ll also save a buttload of money by stocking up on food and bringing it from the mainland. I’ve seen groups of Cambodians actually bring raw meat and everything. They then pay their resort a cooking fee to prepare it for them. (If you want to do this, I’d be sure to get the green light ahead of time).
100% yes (assuming you have at least 3 days). Cambodia is more than just Angkor Wat. These islands are magical. Don’t believe any review you read online that says otherwise.
Some places have credit card machines, others don’t. Plus, if the wifi is down, credit card machines don’t work. You’ll want to bring plenty of cash just in case.
There are NO ATMs on the island as of 2021, so stock up on cash beforehand (there is an ATM on the pier). If you run out of money, there are several places that offer cash back services for a fee. The cheapest place I’ve seen is Laguna Resort, which (at the time of writing) offers cash back for 3.5%. Other places like Sara Resort and the mini-mart charge 10%.
The internet situation on the island has dramatically changed over the past couple years. Most guides say that searching for wifi is a waste of time, but those days are gone. Now, pretty much every accommodation and restaurant on Saracen Beach has wifi. Is it blazing fast? Nope. Does it work 100% of the time? Nope. But it’s enough to get the job done in most cases.
From my experiments, Smart works best on M’Pay Bay, Metfone works best on Saracen Bay, and Cellcard works best at Laguna Resort (far end of Saracen Bay). So, choose your SIM based on where you’ll be staying. (Note: They have SIMs for sale in M’Pay Bay).
This totally depends where you go. Most places have generators running 24/7, while others use solar energy. There are blackouts now and then, but most days are fine (this could depend on your specific resort as well).
Most resorts on Saracen Bay charge $2.50/kg. This is insane! We found a local place that does it for $1/kg. Just follow the path that goes behind Pon Leu Kitchen restaurant. On M’Pay Bay, there are several options for $1/kg, the most popular being the “23” restaurant.
It’s pretty small—at least the parts that are safe to explore. If you’re staying on Saracen Bay, you can reach any main attraction on foot in 90 minutes max.
Got any other questions? Leave a comment below—I’m happy to help!
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Mitch is your typical nomadic backpacker. Or at least, he was. But after stopping in Colombia to take “one week” of salsa lessons, his life took a sharp left turn. He met a cute Colombian girl in dance class, fell in love, and got married. Over half a decade has passed since he left his career to travel the world as a digital nomad, and he’s never looked back.
Nowadays, he’s the blogger behind Project Untethered—where he runs an awesome email newsletter and Youtube channel teaching adventure-craved wanderlusters how to escape the rat race, earn money from anywhere, and build an “untethered life”.
Mitch's Travel Recommendations:
Travel Planning Resources - Everything you need to plan your trip on one convenient page.
Safetywing Insurance - This cheap travel insurance has saved me over $15,000 in medical bills.
Booking.com - Book accommodation without adding your credit card (in case you need to cancel).
Skyscanner - Find cheap flights.
Trusted House Sitters - Take care of pets in exchange for free (sometimes luxury) accommodation.
Flexjobs - Find remote jobs without having to sift through crappy ones.
Skillshare - Free trial to take unlimited classes that teach digital nomad skills.
Anytime Mailbox - Virtual mail service that can handle your mail while you’re away.
Wise - Send and receive money abroad cheaply (great for freelancers).