When Chris lived in Cambodia, it seems he was quite the island-hopping, beach-sprawling, occasional-snorkelling traveller. Now back in the UK (and unaffected by a tourist influx), he’s happy to share his favourite beaches in Cambodia with the rest of us.
Beaches in Cambodia
For many, Thailand’s famous stretches of sand and picturesque islands are what springs to mind when you think of picture-postcard images of beautiful Southeast Asian coastline. But Cambodia has some truly hidden gems where, unlike Thailand, crowds won’t cramp your style.
If spending time on an untouched beach sounds like the ideal conclusion to your trip, I can safely say that Cambodia has some of the best. Imagine Robinson Crusoe, but with a spectacular range of places to stay. That’s what you get in the “Kingdom of Wonder”!
So here are my favourite beaches in Cambodia, starting at #5 (drum roll, please).
#5. Koh Trong
Undoubtedly one of the prettiest places in Cambodia. It’s not technically on the coast, but Koh Trong is a beautiful, quiet and very, very rural sandbar in Northern Cambodia. For eight months of the year it is surrounded by white, sandy, sunny beaches – before the rains come and the green season sets in.
See the best of this small island by horse and cart, or on a bike. Meander through picture-perfect villages, see endangered fresh water Irrawaddy Dolphins, or kick back and enjoy the pristine beach.
#4. Koh Krabey
If you’re in the market for something a little more luxurious, the 30-acre private island of Koh Krabey – home of the Six Senses Resort – is hard to beat. A stay here doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth every penny as you enjoy Khmer-inspired treatments at the in-house spa, go paddleboarding on the warm sea, and help yourself to unlimited free scoops from the ice cream parlour. Only 15 minutes by boat from the mainland, this is barefoot luxury at its very best, in the most beautiful of settings.
#3. Koh Rong
Imagine Thailand – minus 20+ years of tourism and development. That’s Koh Rong. Boasting some of the most amazing and untouched beaches in Southeast Asia, this is a place you will never want to leave.
It’s about a 40-minute boat ride from the mainland, and as you approach the island all you can see is greenery. As you get closer, there is sparse development around the port, but it’s mostly guesthouses on pristine white sandy beaches.
Long Beach (also known as Sok San Beach) is the most spectacular of them all, with seven kilometres of calm, clear waters and fine white sand. Stay at Royal Sands Koh Rong and you’ll have it all on your doorstep – or head to the equally lovely Pagoda Beach and stay at Tamu Koh Rong (another of our favourites).
Nearby, there are beautiful coral reefs perfect for snorkelling or diving, and the whole area is surrounded by dense rainforest. Why head to Thailand’s beaches after a trip to Cambodia when this paradise awaits on your doorstep?
#2. Song Saa Private Island
The most luxurious, unique and incredible place to experience in Cambodia. Song Saa (meaning “sweethearts” in Khmer) consists of two small private islands off the coast of Sihanoukville that are linked with a footbridge – hence ‘sweetheart’ islands.
One of the islands has been left as a nature reserve. The other has a private resort featuring 26 individual pool villas (including Maldivian style over-water villas). While the beach here is very small (as are the islands), the whole area is truly idyllic. The waters around the islands have been designated as a protected marine area – coral reefs provide an abundance of sea life to dive or snorkel around.
#1. Koh Rong Samloem
Coming in at number one is my personal favourite Cambodian paradise: Koh Rong Samloem. Just a hop, skip and a jump from Koh Rong, its big brother next door, it has swaying coconut trees, hammocks, fine white sand beaches, clear turquoise waters… in short, everything you could possibly want from the perfect beach break.
Koh Rong Samloem is a small island with only two sides to it. Lazy Beach on one side is a little livelier and more “backpackery”, Saracen Bay on the other side is quieter – though no longer as untouched as when I first visited. The water here is absolutely still, just like a mirror. Even with the recent addition of new beachfront hotels, it’s still one of my favourite beaches in all of Southeast Asia.
Flip flops and snorkel at the ready? Our Kingdom of Adventure itinerary concludes with a stay on Koh Rong Island, but you can add a beach extension to any of our Southeast Asian trips. Contact our team to start planning your own tailor-made holiday to Cambodia.
Read more: Luxury Cambodia: A beach break on Koh Rong