Perhaps not everyone knows that more than 50 tropical islands enrich the coasts of Cambodia, a country famous for its fascinating temples and ancient ruins but which is increasingly establishing itself as a seaside destination in Southeast Asia.
These are not endless and extended beaches as far as the eye can see, but rather paradisiacal, unspoiled corners, mostly unknown to mass tourism.
Until recently we hardly heard of it. Overlooking Cambodia, the Thai atolls have thought about it for years, literally targeted by tourists from all over the world thanks to the presence of services and comfortable facilities.
Today the situation has clearly changed, the Cambodian people have finally realized the value of their natural beauties by investing right on the coasts, making them easier to access and usable.
The main maritime destination is Sihanoukville which, from being a popular destination for backpackers, has recently been transformed thanks to the interest and capital of foreign investors who have opened luxurious resorts and restaurants there, also favoring road access.
But in Cambodia there is something for everyone! For lovers of total peace and relaxation, there are still practically deserted islands where the only human settlements are represented by small fishing villages.
An authentic and simple world, diametrically opposed to the often inflated resorts of neighboring Thailand, for a vacation in close contact with nature in the name of the tropics.
For those who are planning an escape to Cambodia, as a relaxing holiday or a seaside extension following a tour in the hinterland, here are the best beaches not to be missed:
Finally, the islands of Cambodia are also beginning to receive the tourist attention they deserve! Welcome to a tropical paradise as fragile as it is suggestive, where dream landscapes, pristine beaches and incredible opportunities for relaxation and fun await you. Unlike the more famous Thai islands, those of Cambodia are still relatively little frequented, and offer the tourist thirsty for new horizons a chance to get to where hardly anyone has ever been before.
Cambodia’s islands are easily accessible from the coasts and retain a stunning beauty that deserves all your time. From KohRong to KohTah Kiev, there is a world to explore to fully understand the culture, natural beauty and traditions of a distant and fascinating people like the Cambodian.
we have prepared for you a list of the 10 most beautiful and evocative islands in Cambodia, so that you can enjoy a relaxed Costa cruise and land at your destination with a number of interesting options for your natural itineraries. And don’t forget to take a look at the list of our fantastic excursions!
The southern coast of Cambodia is still a widely and erroneously underrated location. The closure of the country due to the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s which led to some of the worst human rights violations in recent human history, as witnessed by the S-21 prison in Phnom Penh, has left important aftermath on everyone. the sectors of civil and economic society of the country. The tourism sector was obviously one of the hardest hit.
Until about twenty years ago, Cambodia was a very niche destination and off the beaten track. Angkor Wat alone (magnificent!) Seemed capable of attracting international tourists to the country, while almost exclusively humanitarian workers and businessmen ventured to Phnom Penh. The rest of the country was almost completely excluded from tourism and the social and economic development that it entails.
So what to do besides Angkor Wat and the capital Phnom Penh in Cambodia? Sea! Where to go though?
CAMBODIA: DREAM SEA
Better Vietnam or Cambodia to do a few days at sea? Cambodia or Thailand to see some heavenly beaches? Better Cambodia or Vietnam for the deserted islands a few kilometers from the coast?
For years, responses have been against the Khmer country for the greater development of its Southeast Asian neighbors. Not that this necessarily meant more beauty and you will notice it during your Cambodian vacation.
The beauty of the coasts of Southeast Asia is given by the large number of islands: Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, all have a myriad of them, from the most touristy full of resorts to the isolated and almost uninhabited ones.
This guide wants to help you better organize your next holidays: Cambodia do-it-yourself or with an organized tour, it will be an unforgettable journey where, in addition to seeing the beautiful Cambodian sea, you will also encounter the complex and interesting Khmer culture.
SOUTH CAMBODIA: WHEN TO GO
In general, the whole year is good for a trip to the country. The best months to go to the beach in Cambodia are December and January, when temperatures become milder and rainfall is scarce. It is obviously also the most touristic period.
Then, until the end of April, it starts to get hotter and hotter, reaching 35 ° C-40 ° C on the most suffocating days. In this period, if you are not used to it, it will not be easy to bear the climate. Cambodia to avoid at Easter? Not necessarily, especially since the heat will be more bearable on the beach, but think carefully if you intend to combine the sea with an inland itinerary. When it’s hot it can be very tiring to visit Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh and the rest of Cambodia.
Trip to do throughout the rest of the year?Yup!
In fact, although the monsoon season begins towards the end of May and lasts until September-October, the rains are normally violent but short afternoon showers. With suitable clothes you can go to Cambodia in any season.
August is often a month of high tourist traffic due to the European holiday period. You may find a little more visitors, but in general the coast is never overcrowded, apart from Sihanoukville. Cambodia in August is therefore a great choice for your next vacation!
So, in summary, if you are planning your next trip to Cambodia by the sea, when to go? Exclude the months of March and April for high temperatures. November, December and January are the best months. But if you have little flexibility in your dates, don’t worry, you can easily go to Cambodia in August and during the other summer months like June and July.
HOW TO GET TO THE CAMBODIAN COAST
The good news of the recent development of tourism in the south of the country is that it can be reached via many flights. Cambodia and neighboring countries are in fact connected by the most common low-cost and Asian flag airlines, such as AirAsia.
All flights to southern Cambodia arrive at Sihanoukville International Airport, but flying to Phnom Penh is also fine, as from the capital, with five or six hours of travel, you can reach all destinations on the coast.
Cambodia’s coast is sandwiched between two other Southeast Asian countries. In the northwest you can cross the Thai border a few kilometers from the city of Koh Kong. To the southeast, near Kep, you can instead go from Cambodia to Vietnam by land and vice versa.
You can reach Sihanoukville from Angkor Wat and Phnom Penh by plane. From the capital, many shared buses or taxis leave at any time of day to the south of the country.
The Cambodia tourist visa is valid for three months from the date of issue and 30 days from the date of entry into Cambodia. Tourist and business visas (if you are interested in stopping in the country to work) can be done on arrival or in advance on the government website.
The cost is $ 30, but doing it online will charge you an additional $ 6 in administrative costs.
Pay attention to land border posts: the Cambodian visa could cost you a couple of dollars more “because I have so many to do and yours can go to the top of the list”. The culture of bonjour, of our “bribe”, is not yet outdated in Cambodia. Not that it is in Italy or in many other countries anyway!
The Cambodian currency is the Riel, which has a fixed exchange rate with the US dollar:
Both coins can be used freely, so just bring a nice stash of dollars. They will give you the change in Riel, which you will then have to finish before leaving because the amount of local currency that can be exported is very limited. But they certainly won’t tell you anything if you forget some Cambodian bills in your wallet!
Linked to the currency, there is one of the factors that will make you decide to take a trip to Cambodia: very low prices. The Khmer country is one of the cheapest in all of Southeast Asia, already a cheap region in itself.
You can find accommodations in the most isolated places for even five or ten dollars. A not too long motorcycle taxi ride will often not exceed a dollar, as long as you are good at bargaining, but without exaggerating out of respect for the worker
The only mandatory vaccine for Cambodia is that for yellow fever, but only for those coming from countries at risk or having stopped over for more than 12 hours. My advice, as always, is to do it anyway, because it is valid for life and is needed in many other countries around the world.
IS CAMBODIA DANGEROUS?
There are many doubts about the security situation in Cambodia: dangerous or safe? The answer, as in many other countries, is that it depends. It depends on where you go and who you go with. For example, even if it seems obvious, never venture out with a stranger outside the most touristy areas.
In general, along the coast, Cambodia is safe. Only in Sihanoukville may there be petty crime problems, but the police are even more present than in other locations. So, in general, enjoy your holiday in peace by taking only the minimum of necessary precautions in every place, be it in Italy or in Southeast Asia.
SEA CAMBODIA: WHERE TO GO?
After the introductory part with the useful tips for visiting coastal Cambodia, it’s time to go into detail on what you can find in this little corner of Asia. Beautiful sea, islands and beaches are the norm in this part of Cambodia.
What to see absolutely, though?
You won’t always have time to visit the entire coast, and you’ll often have to make choices, especially if you combine this area with other Cambodian attractions. Beautiful beaches are everywhere, dream islands as well, so don’t despair because you will fall well in any case.
The following guide is intended to help you plan your Cambodia vacation. Do-it-yourself trip or organized tour, as already mentioned, are both excellent ways to get around the Khmer country: the former gives you more freedom and perhaps satisfaction, an organized trip more peace of mind. The choice is yours!
If you decide to organize the tour on your own, I would say that ten days or two weeks are the right way to make a beautiful itinerary among the beaches of Cambodia.
The following locations are the most beautiful by the sea in Cambodia, in strict geographical order, starting from the border with Thailand in the northwest and down to the one with Vietnam in the southeast. For each city or island you will find a description, useful information on how to get there, where to stay and excursions to make your tour of the country unforgettable.
So get ready to find out below where to go to the beach in Cambodia.
Once a smuggling area, the west coast of the country is slowly becoming an attractive eco-tourism destination, the main center of which is the town of Koh Kong. Cambodia and Thailand meet here, a few kilometers from the regional capital.
The city can be reached by bus from Phnom Penh in five hours, one less if you leave Sihanoukville. The cost of the ticket varies between five and ten US dollars.
From the city you can rent a moped and go to visit the waterfalls in the area, the most famous of which are the Tatai Waterfall. Otherwise with a guide you can arrange a boat trip through the mangroves followed by a jungle trek that leads to other beautiful waterfalls.
The area around the capital is one of the most beautiful areas in Cambodia. In particular, the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor is one of the least visited but the most beautiful national parks in the country.
A little to the north are the Cardamom Mountains, another natural and fauna paradise, where you can meet elephants, tigers, crocodiles and other rare species.
Further south is the BotumSakor National Park, a promontory surrounded by mangroves that it also hosts numerous protected animal species.
To organize excursions around Koh Kong, you can find tips and tour operators on Tripadvisor.
HOTEL IN KOH KONG
I advise you not to stay in Koh Kong, but to move away a few kilometers, in the locality of Tatai, to find two of the most beautiful lodges in southwestern Cambodia: the KohAndet Eco Resort and the 4 Rivers Floating Lodge. Excellently positioned on the river and surrounded by nature, they are ideal for organizing excursions in the natural park. You will not regret it, you cannot go to Cambodia without having stayed for a few nights in a lodge on the river.
For a spartan but clean city center hotel, stop at 99 Guesthouse which is close to everything you may need. Useful if you want to explore the town and the island of KohKong which stands nearby.
KOH KONG ISLAND
The island of Koh Kong is the largest, but at the same time the least touristy of Cambodia. More beautiful and at the same time deserted beaches of these will be difficult to find in the country.
The island is easily reached during the dry season from the city of Koh Kong: you can find tour operators in the center that organize boats.
WHERE TO SLEEP
The only hotel on the island is the Koh Kong Island Resort, with beautiful rooms / bungalows overlooking the beach. An ideal place to stop for a few nights and rest.
To get an idea of what could happen to the island of Koh Kong, but also to many others along the Cambodian coast, watch this video. And fall in love with the island!
At the end of the only road that crosses the BotumSakor National Park is the village of Kiri Sakor, the access point for the island of KohSdach, the largest of the twelve that make up this very isolated Cambodian archipelago.
KohSdach is without a doubt the stretch of sea in Cambodia to go to if you love diving. The Octopus Garden Diving Center organizes diving excursions into the archipelago’s coral reefs, including the famous Shark Island.
Another activity to do in KohSdach is to rent a boat and be guided to discover the most beautiful deserted beaches of BotumSakor National Park, a corner of paradise still untouched by human activity.
WHERE TO SLEEP
There isn’t much choice on KohSdach. The aforementioned Octopus Garden Diving Center and Belinda Beach are currently the only two options, demonstrating how isolated these islands of Cambodia are.
The most important coastal city in Cambodia takes its name from the old king Sihanouk, during whose reign it was founded in the 1950s to build the great port, a fundamental point of entry for goods into the country.
It is approximately four hours by shared bus or taxi from Phnom Penh. The connection between Sihanoukville and Siem Reap is instead provided by the comfortable Giant Ibis night buses.
It has developed a lot in recent years, mainly thanks to the airport and Chinese investments in the city. Unfortunately, “development” does not always rhymes with “beauty”: large hotels, casinos, crime, drugs and prostitution are all characteristic features of the city that clash with the fabulous beaches and islands found in the sea around the city. At the same time, if you are looking for a place to party along the Cambodian coast, you are in the right place.
On this day tour you can discover Sihanoukville, including PhsarLeu market and Leu temple, but also Kbal Chhay waterfalls.
If you are passionate about motorcycling, I recommend that you visit the city and its surroundings through a guided tour with motocross bikes (equipment and entry to the national park are included): without a doubt the best excursion you can do in Sihanoukville.
WHAT TO DO IN SIHANOUKVILLE?
Nightlife and, of course, the sea. South of the city extends a long strip of sand that forms the most famous beaches of Sihanoukville and some of the busiest in Cambodia.
The first is calledOchheuteal Beach and starts immediately after the marina. The port area is called Serendipity Beach and there are numerous bars and restaurants where many young and foreign adults gather.
After the promontory there is Otres Beach, which is divided into Otres I and Otres II, my favorites. The further you get from the center of Sihanoukville, the less crowded the beaches are.
The beaches north of the marina, on the other hand, are less beautiful, although Sokha Beach is quite famous and popular and deserves a few hours of relaxation in the shade of the resorts.
All the beaches of Sihanoukville, especially those in the northern part of the city, have been undergoing profound transformation for years due to the very little restrictive urban plans and the construction boom that follows. Russian and Chinese investors compete to finance Cambodian businessmen to build bigger and bigger hotels.
Off Sihanoukville there are many islands, the most agofamous of which are KohRong and KohRongSamloem. Both deserve at least a couple of days each, but you don’t always have enough time. If you want to explore all the islands around the main city in southern Cambodia, you can decide to take a private motorized pirogue boat tour that also includes lunch.
South of Sihanoukville is Ream National Park, made up of primary forest that is home to many bird species, some of which are in danger of extinction. You can find tour operators who organize guided boat and canoe tours of the national park.
HOTEL IN SIHANOUKVILLE
Personally I would only stay downtown if you are passing through to take the ferry to one of the islands the next day, otherwise I would move to the beaches. It must be said, however, that the city center can also be the ideal place to have a little party and meet other people.
If you decide to sleep in the center of Sihanoukville, I recommend the Small Hotel, spartan but clean and in a good location.
A fabulous place to stay for a little luxury experience in Cambodia is the Ren Resort, right at the end of Otres Beach. I found you the most beautiful rooms among Cambodia’s seaside resorts. Despite the excellent quality, the prices are affordable.
Not far away are the inexpensive Lakshmi Bungalows, with decent rooms, but no access to the beach.
Click here to book in advance a safe transfer from Sihanoukville airport to any hotel in the city
Here we are at the most famous island off Sihanoukville: KohRong. Maybe even the whole of Cambodia. It is a piece of land with still semi-deserted beaches, where many animals also live.
KohRong is the best choice if you are looking for beautiful sea in Cambodia. Unfortunately, it is also the island that is developing the fastest, so you’d better visit it quickly, before it is ruined by wild construction.
It can be reached by boat from the Sihanoukville marina. Unfortunately the times are always very indicative and the overcrowding of the boats is nothing new. Be prepared and I advise you not to get angry, you would not gain anything in any case. You can book a speedboat or a Happy Boat directly online. The first takes about 45 minutes to get to KohRong, while the second stops to snorkel on another island and arrives after about two and a half hours, and then returns in case you just want to take a one-hour boat trip. day.
The area where the boats arriving from Sihanoukville dock is also the best for partying, although the name is not exactly the most appealing from this point of view: Police Beach.
On the opposite side, Sok San beach is made up of five uninterrupted kilometers of white sand, set between the crystal clear sea and the forest. A true paradise!
WHAT TO DO IN KOH RONG
On KohRong you can do the Blob Jump, which is the jump from a platform of about six meters onto a huge air chamber. You can see more in 2m30s of this video on KohRong, which will also help you get an idea of the beauty of the island.
Another attraction of the island is the zipline on Highpoint, one of the highest points on the island.
It goes without saying that snorkeling and diving are among the most popular activities to do on KohRong due to the beauty of the Cambodian sea off the island.
Finally, if for some strange reason you need a break from the white beaches and the crystal clear sea, you can go for walks and mountain bike excursions in the interior of the island.
The busiest area of the island is the southern one, where boats arriving from Sihanoukville dock. Here you can choose to stay at the Paradise Bungalows which are located directly on the beach, or at the Reef on the Beach, which has family rooms, beautiful double rooms with sea views, but also single beds in dormitories that suit any budget.
KOH RONG SAMLOEM
The almost homonymous KohRongSamloem is perhaps one of the quietest islands in Cambodia. Far from the party atmosphere of nearby KohRong, mass tourism is still far away here, albeit dangerously ever closer.
Everything, or almost everything, develops around the beautiful and long white beach of the BaiadeiSaraceni where the speedboats arriving from Sihanoukville dock.
For even more peace, cross the narrow island to the west coast, where there are two secluded beaches. The first is Lazy Beach where there is a bar / restaurant. A little further north is Sunset Beach. From here, needless to say, you can see one of the most beautiful sunsets over the sea in Cambodia (although my favorite is on Rabbit Island).
On KohRongSamloem you can go on excursions inside the island, but also boat trips to discover the seabed while snorkeling.
Finally, a unique experience that I recommend everyone to do: the night swim with plankton lumines
at least beautiful and exciting!
WHERE TO SLEEP
The best place in the BaiadeiSaraceni is The One Resort, also a great place for an aperitif on the beach.
Are you on vacation to have fun and meet other travelers like you? In this case you have to go to Mad Monkey, yet another masterpiece hostel of the most famous chain in Southeast Asia.
If you are looking for more complete seclusion, then choose Robinson Bungalows on the other side of KohRongSamloem, in Sunset Beach.
KOH TA KIEV
A short distance south of Otres Beach is Koh Ta Kiev, another of Cambodia’s islands that will soon be ruined by massive constructions. We hope that they will at least preserve the beautiful white beaches of the island.
Easily accessible from both Sihanoukville and Ream National Park, it is an excellent destination for a day trip from the district capital. You can also stay in some bungalows at the Kactus.
KOH RUSSEI (OR BAMBOO ISLAND)
A few hundred meters from Koh Ta Kiev there is another small corner of paradise, KohRussei, also called Bamboo Island. Cambodia and the Asian superpowers (China and Russia) have long had agreements for the uncontrolled exploitation of the Khmer coast: KohRussei has met the same fate and all the bungalows that were there until a few years ago have been eliminated.
Now you can only stay at the luxurious (and beautiful) Villas KohRussey. To give Caesar what is Caesar’s, it must be admitted that they have managed to build something that integrates decently with the landscape, much better than one might have expected.
Another island that is likely to be increasingly exploited from a tourist point of view is remote KohThmei, near the southern tip of Ream National Park. There is also talk of projects to build a bridge that connects it to the mainland.
At the moment you can only stay at KohThmei Resort, perfect for an isolated stay away from the stressful pace of our society.
This is not a seaside resort, but it still remains one of the most popular tourist destinations on the Cambodian coast. Located near the mouth of a river, there are also beautiful hiking areas around Kampot.
The ease of reaching the region has also helped its tourism development. Kampot is in fact only four hours by road from Phnom Penh. You can pre-book a shared taxi from the capital.
KAMPOT, CAMBODIA: WHAT TO SEE
Kampot is world famous for its pepper and plantations of the precious spice. One of the most famous farms, La Plantation, offers various experiences. The first one I recommend is a Khmer cooking lesson where, of course, pepper will be the protagonist.
The other excursion is a mixture of all those offered by La Plantation: you will start with a tour of the farm to discover how pepper is grown; then you will take a ride on a cart pulled by water buffaloes that venture smoothly into their natural habitat, the river; finally lunch in one of the best restaurants in the area. You can find more details about this activity here.
Not far from Kampot is the Bokor National Park, which corresponds to the southern tip of the Cardamom Mountains. Inside you can visit the Bokor Hill Station, a health resort built by the French in the 1920s and today almost completely abandoned, but with redevelopment projects. Most of the buildings are covered with plants which give a spooky look.
The renovated Bokor Palace is one of the best examples of colonial architecture in all of Cambodia. It houses one of the best hotels on the south coast of Cambodia.
The area is experiencing a revival from a tourist point of view with a huge project worth hundreds of millions of dollars that will probably end up ruining the beauty of the area.
If you want to learn more about the life of Cambodians in the countryside, I recommend that you take a tuk-tuk tour along the narrow streets outside the city in the area between Kampot and Kep. The local guide will be able to give you all the information you want and satisfy all your curiosities.
A few tens of kilometers from Kampot is Kampong Trach, a district with natural beauties to visit: caves, mountains, lakes. From Kampot you can choose a day tour that will take you to discover this area off the beaten track of mass tourism.
If you’re in Kampot on the weekend, the Greenhouse is the best place to sleep, with no ifs and buts. Nice bungalows by the river where you can swim freely, beautiful sunset behind the hills, great food. I don’t think you need anything else.
Since the Greenhouse is not open during the week, a good alternative is the SabayBeach which is located directly opposite, on the other side of the river.
Since the 1920s, a tourist destination for the rich French first and then Cambodians, the town of Kep was practically abandoned duringthe Khmer Rouge regime, for whom tourism was certainly not an important activity.
It has only recently seen some development and a return to being a tourist resort. The small beach in the center and the famous fish market where you can enjoy excellent crabs are the main attractions of the city.
It is one of my favorite destinations and I have already written about the small National Park that occupies the hill overlooking the city of Kep.
Cambodia and Vietnam meet a few kilometers south of the city, so it is a must for those who are crossing the country and then enter the Vietnamese neighbors.
HOTEL IN KEP
The best hotel in Kep is the Veranda Natural Resort, just below the National Park. Stunning rooms and a spectacular swimming pool, a stone’s throw from the forest and overlooking the sea.
KOH TONSAY (RABBIT ISLAND)
Half an hour by boat from Kep is one of the places I have left the most in the heart of Cambodia: KohTonsay, known by all as Rabbit Island, apparently because its shape resembles a rabbit. Good luck imagining the animal on google maps.
Everything is on the beach where the boats dock: a couple of restaurants, bungalows and a few massage gazebos. I strongly recommend that you come here with some good books (here are some tips) and enjoy a fabulous sea, among the most beautiful in southern Cambodia.
If you want to explore the island a bit, head west to the beach and always follow the coast. Crossing a flat promontory full of coconut palms bent by the wind, you will arrive on another beach, from which I saw the most beautiful sunsets in all of Cambodia.
Continuing, you will come out on the beach at the back of the island, with the huts where the few families who live on the island live.
Then spend the rest of the day at the landing place until the sun goes down. In the dark, take a bath in the dark waters that will suddenly light up: KohTonsay is in fact one of the best places to see bioluminescent plankton in Cambodia.
I recommend that you reach this paradise, like the rest of Cambodia’s most beautiful islands, before mass tourism ruins them excessively!
If you want more information about this beautiful Southeast Asian country, you can visit the page with all the articles on Cambodia.