I bet we all can agree on one thing: South- East- Asia is a great place! The beaches, the people, the food, the lighthearted way of life.. You go there once and it somehow casts a spell over you that makes you want to return over and over again (..or sometimes just stay). It was the same for me, after I returned from my first visit to Malaysia and Thailand in 2014, I could simply not wait to plan my next trip.
This time I wanted to do it a bit differently though. On my first trip, especially in Thailand, I followed the common route, leading myself from one tourist spot into the next one. And it was great fun.. But this time I wanted to have more of an adventure, get out of the party zones and explore the pristine nature of my destination in a less developed setting.
And this is where my search had lead me. Koh Rong Samloem Island off the coast of Cambodia. Now this might seem familiar to you, because in the last few years the island was subject to a decent rise in tourist numbers. The beach is still stunningly white and the waters are super clear, but yes development has kicked off and it does start to get busier there.
That’s talking about Saracen Bay though. It’s the main beach of the island and pretty much what everyone is talking about when saying Koh Rong Samloem. But there is another beach, called Sunset beach, on the opposite side of the island that is only connected to the main area through a 1 hour bushwalk and therefore stays widely unregarded and in my opinion that’s exactly what makes it the gem that it is.
Although smaller, it has a beautiful beach. Combined with muuuuch less hassle. There is only like 4 resorts/accommodations over here, all super laid- back and perfectly fitting in with the surroundings. To get here you can either take the ferry to the pier at Saracen Bay and then do the one hour hike ( wouldn’t recommend it if you have a lot of luggage though ) or book one of the accommodations in advance and get transfered over by their own boat. That is definitely the more comfortable option and the one I would recommend.
While all of the accommodations looked awesome and have their own cool features, we stayed at the Happa Garden Resort and it was great! You get your own centrally located beach bungalow with a hammock on the balcony. Electricity works through a generator, so only over night, but trust me there is so much to do you are not going to worry about it.
The Happa Restaurant is super nice as well, serving delicious teppenyaki and japanese, in shaded daybeds on the beach.
You can book diving trips at the dive shop or alternatively just explore the beautiful surrounding reef by snorkeling. Rent of snorkel and mask is included for guests.
Further you can always wander over to the other resort areas. One of which features a great chillout setting by the beach, including hammocks and a treehouse and where you also have the option to play boccia and pool by the beach bar. Another place is regularly holding competitions such as beach volley ball and shows movies in the evenings.
What we liked most about this beach was, how quickly you got familiar with everything and everyone. It’s an amazing feeling to find a place like that away from home, where you can just be comfortable and relax. So go and check everything out and make sure to see at least one of the beautiful sunsets ( it hasn’t been called the Sunset Beach for no reason! ).
PS: There is one more very special thing to be experienced here. Read about Cambodia’s Glowing Plankton.