The pick of the best guesthouses and resorts on the Cambodia Islands
Not too long ago KohRong’s only tourist amenities were a handful of bungalows besides miles of dense jungle and some of the finest Cambodia islands white sand beaches. There’s still amazing hiking and trekking on this Island in the parts of the jungle that loggers haven’t destroyed, but in the last few years dozens of cheap accommodations have been built and the place has become a backpacker Shangri-La.
Though KohRong remains surprisingly undeveloped, at least by Thai island standards, its business owners are notoriously party-friendly, bringing in generators to keep the music going until the wee hours and offering live DJs and free-beer happy hours.
Vagabonds (+855 15 662 437, firstname.lastname@example.org) caters to the party set while Monkey Island (+855 81 830 991) and Paradise Bungalows (+855 92 548 883) are a quieter option.
- KohRong Sanloem
KohRongSanloem has long been a Cambodia islands favorite of expats in Phnom Penh, who head to the quiet island for weekends at Lazy Beach, once the only accommodation option here.More recently, a dozen new places have sprung up on the opposite side of the island, Saracen Bay — a heart-shaped inlet with calm turquoise surf and beautiful beaches.Days can be spent paddle-boarding, snorkeling or relaxing under a palm tree with a good book.Accommodation options include Paradise Villas (+855 92 548 883), Saracen Bay Resort (+855 16 997 047) and Lazy Beach (+855 016 214 211).
- Song Saa
The nickname of these two small private islands means “sweethearts” in Khmer. Fitting, as you’d have to be pretty sweet on someone to take them to this one of the Cambodia islands, with villa prices topping $3,000 per night.The 27-room resort offers Cambodia’s most exclusive island experience, starting with the bottle of champagne awaiting you at check-in.The champagne’s included in the price and so is just about everything else, from the transfers from shore and the gourmet meals made from locally-sourced foods to the well-stocked mini-bar and free international calls from your villa.Even better, Song Saa is a model for sustainable development for Cambodia islands.The resort is helping the local community develop education and waste management programs and has embarked on several conservation efforts, including a marine reserve covering 50,000 square meters around the islands.
Song Saa Private Island Resort (+855 23 989 012)
Located inside Ream National Park, KohThmei is home to monkeys, civets, lizards, more than 100 different species of birds and several threatened species, including the fishing cat, a wetland feline than makes its home near streams and mangrove forests.The most remote of the Cambodia Islands has only one place to stay, KohThmei Resort, and the term “resort” is used loosely: it’s little more than nine simple wooden bungalows, but it’s eco-friendly and solar powered.Guests can hike, bird watch, snorkel or take the two-person sea kayak out for a spin. KohThmei Resort is the only place to stay on the island of the same name. The resort is even raising ponies that children can ride.
There are nearby deserted beaches to visit with occasional views of dolphins swimming along the coast. KohThmei Resort (+855 97 737 0400)
- Koh Ta Kiev
The secluded beaches of the Cambodia Islands and Koh Ta Kiev are probably the last place you’d expect to find an absinthe bar, let alone a distillery. Yet this is where you’ll find Syn Absinthe, a one-man operation that makes five types of hand-crafted, small-batch absinthe.Visitors can take a distillery tour that covers the entire process, from the wormwood that gives absinthe its reputed psychoactive properties to fermentation and bottling, plus the history of the oft-forbidden beverage.Unlike other Cambodia Islands it’s possible to visit the island just for the afternoon, but the gorgeous beaches also demand a couple of days’ attention, as does the coconut bowling.Those who want to stay overnight can lodge in one of Ten103 Treehouse Bay’s tree-top bungalows next to the distillery, but it’s best to book in advance.Ten103 Treehouse Bay (+855 88 5044192)
As far as the Cambodia islands go KohTotang is the island of choice for those who want to totally disconnect from their regular life and do some serious beachcombing.The stunning island has just one place to stay, Nomad’s Land(+855 11 916 171), which has only five bungalows.Visitors will be forced to take a much-needed break from email because there’s no Internet on KohTotang. But because the bungalows are solar powered they don’t have any noisy generators, either.Showers use saved rainwater, produce is grown in the permaculture garden and there’s not much on the agenda other than lying in a hammock, enjoying the view and banishing all thought of life at home.Posted on