Top-rated Cambodia Beaches that Deserve More Attention

05 Oct, 2023 | A-> Z Guide

Besides ancient temples, these beaches deserve more recognition from tourists when visiting Cambodia

While many tourists are drawn to Cambodia by its ancient temples and rich spiritual and cultural traditions, you should not miss out on its gorgeous beaches.
 
Some of the best beaches in Cambodia are very popular, while others are off-the-beaten track. Here are a few to make sure you add to your bucket list for your upcoming trip.

1. Koh Rong Island

Some of the most spectacular beaches in Cambodia can be found on the island of Koh Rong in the Sihanoukville Province. This is the country’s second biggest island, so it boasts quite a few fantastic spots to swim, sunbathe and more. Here are a few of our top recommendations for beaches to visit while you are on the island.

Long Set Beach:
 
This beach is fairly accessible. At the same time, it is not as developed as some of the other area beaches. Crystal clear waters and pristine sand make for a relaxing ambiance. In a few years, this beach will probably be much more developed—so enjoy the sense of seclusion it offers while you can.
 
Good to Know:
 
Because this area is not all that developed yet, there are not too many resorts here. So, you probably will not be able to stay close to Long Set Beach unless you book early. Also, you have to walk an hour from Long Set Beach if you want to go to a convenience store, so stock up on all you need before you arrive.
 
Lonely Beach:

 
Another great beach to head to if you want to escape the crowds is the aptly-named Lonely Beach. Few other beaches on the island rival the sense of solitude and serenity to be found here, surrounded by palm trees and gazing out at the sparkling waves. With all the splendor of nature to provide you with company, you won’t mind being lonely at all.


 

Good to Know:
 
There is just one resort at Lonely Beach, and it is not a particularly luxurious one. Amenities in this area are very limited, and Sihanoukville is hours away by boat. Pack everything required for your time at the beach, and plan for plenty of time to travel between Lonely Beach and Sihanoukville.
 
Song Saa Private Island:
 
For an exclusive experience that includes all the amenities you could ask for, book a stay at Song Saa Private Island. You get to enjoy the luxuries of a private resort while basking in the quiet tranquility of one of Koh Rong’s most beautiful beaches. Snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, yoga, guided meditation and other activities are available at the resort.


 

While other tourists may be sharing the beach with you, their numbers are limited thanks to the exclusive nature of the setting.
 
Good to Know:
 
Getting to Song Saa Private Island from Sihanoukville is not too involved; the drive to the port is just half an hour from the Sihanoukville International Airport, and the boat ride is 45 minutes. But if you are coming from Phnom Penh, you need to drive for about two and a half hours before you get on the boat. The resort can arrange transfers for you for a fee.

2. Koh Rong Samloem

Koh Rong Samloem is an island that in many respects is similar to Koh Rong, though Koh Rong is triple its size. They are pretty close together, so they often are referred to as  “sister islands.” Let’s take a look at some of the best destinations on this island for Cambodia beach vacations.

Lazy Beach
 
Lazy Beach is on the western shore of Koh Rong Samloem. You can actually walk here pretty quickly. Along the way, you may be lucky enough to spot wildlife like birds in the jungle. So, be sure to have your camera ready.
 
After you arrive, you will find yourself at a privately owned beach that you can access for free, even if you are not staying at the Lazy Beach resort. The atmosphere is quiet and laid-back. In fact, after you have spent some time relaxing here, you will understand clearly why they call it “Lazy Beach.” It is hard to get up and leave once you start soaking in the sun and salt air.
 
Good to Know:
 
Lazy Beach has a restaurant and bar, but no other food options. So, if you do not want to eat at the restaurant, you must pack something to eat. The restaurant is pretty good though, so make sure to give it a try at least once.
 
M’Pai Bay
 
M’Pai Bay—sometimes written M-Pai Bay—is along the island’s north shore. Gazing across the sheltered water of the bay, you will be able to see the tiny nearby island of Koh Koun. While you can have a great time just relaxing on the beach at M’Pai Bay, you are definitely going to want to pack your snorkel so you can explore the coral reefs and get up close and personal with the fish and other sea life.
 
Good to Know:
 
You have to take a ferry to get to M’Pai Bay. Booking early is important, since seats fill up fast. Also, you should always double check to make sure that M’Pai Bay is on the destination list for the ferry you want to book; some routes skip it. You do not want to waste money and hours of time on the wrong route.
 
One thing visitors love about visiting M’Pai Bay is how affordable the accommodations and food are. Just be aware that those cheap prices are matched by rustic lodgings. 
 
Saracen Bay
 
While rustic lodgings such as those at M’Pai Bay can be affordable and fun, they are not for everyone. Tourists visiting Koh Rong Samloem who want a comfortable, convenient beach experience with plenty of amenities are likely to stop at Saracen Bay. Inviting turquoise waves surrounded by jungle await you, as do a range of resorts. Multiple convenience stores make it easy for you to have a quick shopping for necessities.
 
Good to Know:
 
Even though Saracen Bay attracts more crowds than the other beaches we shared in our list for Koh Rong Samloem, secluded spots still exist for visitors willing to take the time to walk to them. Sometimes all you need to do to escape the crowds is just spend a few more minutes making your way up the beach. Plus, if you venture a little farther, you can visit a nearby waterfall as well as a lighthouse.

3. Coral Beach, Koh Ta Kiev

Koh Ta Kiev is not yet a developed destination, though there are plans to start building modern resorts there. At the time of this writing, it remains a secluded island with unspoiled beaches you can have more or less to yourself. Among them, the one we recommend most highly is Coral Beach.

Visitors can reach Coral Beach on the western part of the island. This is a quiet, sleepy spot where you can rent a room in a bungalow or camp out under the stars in a hammock. Sunsets from Coral Beach paint the water with countless colors, making each sundown one to remember. Time spent here is simply magical.
 
Good to Know:
 
Coral Beach offers resort accommodations, but they are very rustic. There is a restaurant for food, but for some other basics like soap, you are going to need to pack your own. Also, be aware that you must wash up in a bucket shower. This can take a bit of practice if you have never done it before.

4. Koh Russey (Bamboo Island)

Another small island that is perfect for Cambodia beach vacations is Koh Russey, also called Koh Russei or Bamboo Island. The island used to be a Cambodian naval outpost before being developed to welcome tourists.

The entire length of the island is only 1.06 miles, so you can easily walk from one end to the other. Koh Russey Beach is perhaps the best-known destination on the island, but gorgeous beaches are located all around the island’s shores.
 
Good to Know:
 
While Bamboo Island has a quiet, off-the-beaten-path atmosphere, there is a luxury resort on the island. So, if you are looking to relax in upscale accommodations while still escaping the crowds, this is a wonderful destination.

5. Koh Thmei

Koh Thmei is another beautiful island where you can relax at some breathtaking beaches. At around 4.7 miles wide and 5 and a half miles long, a lot of spots on this island are within easy walking distance, while others are more of a hike.
 
This island is not flat; in the center, a river called Prek Koh Krabei runs between a pair of peaks. The entire island falls within the boundaries of Preah Sihanouk Ream National Park, usually just called “Ream National Park” for short.
 
This destination is particularly ideal for nature lovers. The beaches, jungles and mangroves of Koh Thmei are home to impressive ecological diversity. As you are swimming and hiking, some animals you might see here include rhesus monkeys, turtles, dolphins, pelicans and dugongs.
 
You might think that an island that is part of a national park would not have any amenities, but there are actually some communities located on Koh Thmei, and even a resort. So, as a tourist, you should find most of what you need while you are staying here.
 
Actually, it is somewhat lucky that Koh Thmei remains a quiet and undeveloped island; at one point, there were supposed to be a number of development projects here, but these still have not taken place. That means that you get to experience Koh Thmei at its best. Let’s hope that Koh Thmei continues to remain an unspoiled natural paradise.


 

Good to Know:
 
There were plans for a bridge between the mainland and the island, but as of right now, no such bridge exists. So, visitors still must reach the island by boat.
 
Bring your binoculars with you to Koh Thmei; they will help you spot more than 150 different bird species during your stay.
 
If you plan to walk on the beaches, consider wearing flip-flops rather than going barefoot. Whereas many Cambodian beaches feature white or golden sands, the beaches of Koh Thmei have a lot of broken shells washed up that may be less pleasant on the soles of your feet than soft sand.
 
Watch where you are walking as well so that you do not accidentally step on any living critters. And remember, Koh Thmei is part of a national park, so take nothing with you, and leave only footprints.

6. Kep Beach, Kep, Mainland

Perhaps you do not want to travel offshore to the islands of Cambodia, and you prefer a beach that is conveniently on the mainland. One excellent option is Kep Beach, located in Kep.

Sihanoukville may be Cambodia’s crowning coastal jewel, but that was not always the case. Before Sihanoukville’s rise to prominence in the 1960s, most tourists flocked to Kep. The town languished in obscurity after massive damage during the Khmer Rouge regime, but now, it is being revitalized.
 
Kep Beach today is small, but beautiful, with white sands and plenty of nearby restaurants serving delicious seafood. Indulge in the charms that made Kep Beach popular before the 1960s without the crowds that Sihanoukville now draws.
 
Good to Know:
 
Accessing Kep Beach requires traveling on a one-way loop. Admission is charged to guests in automobiles, but if you arrive on a motorcycle or on foot, you can use the road for free. Do not attempt to go the wrong way on the loop.

Summary

Add any of the destinations in our list to your Cambodia beach trip itinerary, and you can look forward to basking in sunshine on sandy shores and swimming and snorkeling in turquoise waters. The memories you create on your vacation will be a little piece of tropical paradise that you can bring with you to enjoy long after your trip is at an end.
 

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