Island Hopping in Cambodia

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Not being enlisted on too many travel bucket lists, Cambodian Islands are home to many secluded islands that are perfect for anyone to explore, revitalize, and rejuvenate. Though there are recent developmental efforts, neighbouring Thailand with exotic locations and amazing beaches is the first choice for tourists. So, Cambodian islands enjoy the status of being a hidden gem of the region and that is why it is a holiday treat for people who want to steer clear of tourist crowds packed at locations. When it is about Cambodia, it is hard not to mention the ruins of majestic Angkor but many people do not actually know that it has been home to several beautiful islands. Travellers hop from one island to another to explore more of Cambodia beaches and they enjoy basking in the warm sun. The palm trees of the beaches and the pristine azure waters serve as more than needed reasons to visit Cambodia. In fact, even the party-goers can have a blast here too, especially for the full-moon party at any of these Cambodian beaches. The nightlife at this place can be really fun and can be private too. You can explore a few of the villages here which will be a great experience of not just your trip but your life. The south coast of Cambodia has more than 60 pristine tropical islands fledgling in the stunning sapphire waters of the Gulf of Thailand. One would have a great time visiting the islands of Cambodia and Backpacking to this destination can be really fun and exciting.

An ideal time to explore the Cambodian islands is from November to April when the average temperatures of the place are perfect for tourism. So, as it is perfect, it is also the time when you would find the maximum crowd. If you want to avoid this peak season, you can visit Cambodia around the months from May to October during when there would be a few occasional afternoon showers. But in an overview, there would be pleasant weather in this land. 


There are 17 airports in total in Cambodia but Phnom Penh International Airport is the primary getaway to the capital of Cambodia. If you want to visit the temples of Angkor, Siem Reap International Airport serves the purpose. Both of these airports are known for their services besides the chains of restaurants, bars, shops, and ATMs. If you are somehow travelling to Sihanoukville International Airport, note that e-visas are not accepted there. Most of Cambodia flights connect to regional capitals and flights to it are expanding too. Its national airline is the Cambodia Angkor Airways and it offers most of the international flight connections to its nearby destinations including Bangkok, Danang, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Seoul, and Shanghai. Most of the daily international flight connections are via Bangkok and are offered by both Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways. Vietnam Airlines has many useful connections too like those from both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City along with flight connections to Vientiane from Phnom Penh and to Luang Prabang, Danang, and Phu Quoc from Siem Reap. You can also book some budget airlines like AirAsia and many others that are steadily driving down the ticket costs. AirAsia offers daily flight connections from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok while Jetstar connects flights from both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to Singapore and Cebu Pacific operates three to four weekly flights from Siem Reap to Manila. There are also some regional centers that offer direct flights to Cambodia like Hong Kong, Pakse. and Taipei.

Cambodia has many options for transportation ranging from private cars that are for hire to boats for crossing lakes. The local transportation system of Cambodia is under the private companies and some unorganized local vendors. Some of its towns can generally be covered by walking but however some main attractions like Angkor Wat and the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields are in the outskirts of the city that would necessitate transportation options like driving a rental car,  taxi, and others. As the prime location that one would start their journey or end it is airports. For traveling to and from the airport, you can easily access a taxi, tuk-tuk, and also moto-dups in major cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Public air-conditioned buses also run frequently from Phnom Penh airport to the city. Payment for transportation might be not clear for many tourists. There is no such thing as official travel card in Cambodia but some bus services and car rentals accept debit and credit cards. However, cash is the preferred payment method for most services. If you have a doubt over the currency, though Cambodian currency is the riel, they accept US dollars too. So besides the airport transportation, you can opt for one of the many options to travel in and around Cambodia during your exploration of the place and island hopping.

Apart from the top few islands, there are many more of them to be explored in Cambodia. Planning a proper trip and booking a good island tour operator is very important. Besides the minute details, island hopping is easy and fun in Cambodia because all you have to do is catch a ferry and travel from one island to another. You can also just hop on to a long tail boat and explore more and more of the Cambodian islands. 

Flights: Travelling by flights is the fastest and also the most comfortable option of a commute if you are visiting between major cities of Cambodia. Several domestic flights are available that fly on a daily basis that link cities like Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Battambang.
Tuk-Tuk: Tuk-Tuks are the most widely used transport option in Cambodia and are also the most popular option there. Besides travelling from one place to another on different tuk-tuks, you can also hire them for the whole day for your private use. They are so popular because they are not so costly and it is quite easy to hop on to one attraction from another. You have to fix a fare in advance with the driver.

Moto-dup: Moto-dups are nothing but a cheaper alternative to tuk-tuks. They are like a small motorcycle taxi that is ideal for short journeys that are too long to walk and too short to take a taxi in cities and towns. Just like tuk-tuks, you must remember to fix a fare with the driver before taking a ride to make sure you are not cheated with over prices.

Boats: Boats are mostly used for travelling across rivers and lakes. Many boat trips are usually arranged along the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake. These rides are beautiful because you can enjoy spectacular scenery along the way. Before the construction and improvement of major roads in Cambodia, boats were an important means of transport in Cambodia. Now the 2,000 kilometers of navigable waterways of Cambodia are no longer considered as the most efficient way to get around the place. However, if you are not adamant about getting a fast transport option, you can consider opting for one of the many luxury cruises on the Mekong River.

Taxi: Taxis are available everywhere in Cambodia right outside the arrival hall of airports to any city point. The costs of taxis are also reasonable and you will come across a lot of taxi companies in Cambodia. In fact, in major cities, you can just stop a taxi on the street and ride in it or book in advance. However, in smaller towns, it is better to take a tuk-tuk than hire a taxi.  

Cyclo: Cyclo can be an interesting choice of transport in Cambodia to enjoy the essence of the place. If you want to go on a slow city tour, this option is just for you. But remember to ask for the price beforehand and then get on it. Anyhow, cyclo charges are the cheapest among all the transportation options in Cambodia. 
Train: The royal railway in Cambodia is very popular which provides the train services from Phnom Penh to Takeo, Kam Pot, and Sihanoukville. You can buy the tickets for the same at Phnom Penh Railway Station with differing costs for each destination. The Cambodian government recently has also started a passenger train service from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. The trains are very modern and can sometimes be a good alternative to buses though they run less frequently.  

Bus: There are a lot of Bus companies in Cambodia that offer services between Phnom Penh and other provinces. Most of these buses are air-conditioned and are also equipped with video TV and Wi-fi. Most of the Bus stations are located around Phsa Thmey area and also along the riverside where it is easy to spot. There are both local and city buses but public buses don’t operate in the cities of Cambodia except for the city bus service in Phnom Penh. make sure that you will check your destination and confirm it with the bus company to avoid any kind of misunderstanding.


You might just arrive at Sihanoukville from Siem Reap or Phnom Penh but if you can not wait to start visiting Cambodian islands, you can start your island hopping from Koh Rong. It is the perfect place for relaxing and also partying. The enchanting Cambodia beaches turn from being a serene lounge to party area by night. There is Lonely beach on the northern parts of Koh Rong island and it is named so for its peaceful atmosphere. The Long Set Beach is a must-visit which takes a brief walk to reach from the main tourist area, Koh Touch and even shorter walk to reach White Beach, another attraction. You can bask in the sun and have a great time. Sok San Beach on the western parts of the island is known for exploring the local culture as you can stay at its Khmer fishing village or in one of the biggest resorts there. The Snowdrift Bay on the southwest side is also well-known for its soft sands. If you want to relax under the shade of Palm trees, Palm beach is your option. Apart from beaches, this island is full of resorts, few fishing villages, and  less crowded green areas. 
To reach Koh Rong to start your island hopping in Cambodia, you will easily find many speed boats and ferries. The Serendipity Pier in Sihanoukville is where you get transportation to Koh Rong easily and the duration of the journey is completely dependent on the driver and their schedule. You will have many options to stay at Koh Rong. Palm Beach Bungalow Resort and Nice Beach Bungalow are the two most famous backpacker options. There is also an entire line of hostels and bungalows. Private double bed bungalows are available starting at $40 and you can get private rooms starting from $15 without air conditioning. However, dormitory rooms are the cheapest in some hostels that are available at $5. There are plenty of restaurants and bars on the beachside where you can savor your favorite dishes and there is a sky bar too, from where you can get pretty good views of the ocean. Tourists tend to get sick, be it because of the cross-contamination of meat or bad quality of water. So beware of the food and quality while you are munching on the food here. 

-Reaching Koh Rong

From the city of Sihanoukville, a ferry ride to Koh Rong takes about forty-five minutes at high speed. The two-way trip costs you around $22 to $25. But if you are directly heading to Lonely Beach, the casual boat ride takes three hours from Sihanoukville and costs you around $50 to $80, while a diving boat would cost about $40. The Angkor Speed Ferry is the best option as it is new and is also clean. Apart from this, you can book a Cambodian Island-hopping tour that makes your island hopping easy. If you are starting from Phnom Penh, it costs you $6 by bus that takes around three and a half hours to reach Sihanoukville and then four more hours to reach Koh Rong that costs $15 by bus and $70 by taxi. 

-Things To Do

Adventure activities like scuba diving and snorkelling are the best things one could plan doing in the Cambodian islands. You can also try other adventure sports like jet skiing or windsurfing if you want to experience some thrill in your trip. There are places like Rope Park and High Point Zip Line Adventure Park where you can head to for fun and adventure. 

For the paradise, Koh Rong island is, you must watch the breathtaking sunset and watch the glowing plankton in the ocean. Though these bioluminescent sea creatures are seen in certain parts of the island, you might actually be lucky enough to watch them during the sunset. 
If you think Koh Rong would be a disappointment for party-goers, it is a misconception. It has a bouncing nightlife for you to have fun. Party seekers are everywhere here in the island-wide pub on every Tuesday and Friday because visitors go to Police Beach on Wednesdays and Saturdays for an all-night rage. Full moon day parties are really special here and events keep happening every day.


Do not get confused between Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem. Koh Rong Sanloem is for those who want a toned-down experience in the Cambodian islands. So, you can not expect wild parties here because the toning down is all about having fewer parties that offer serenity and calmness to visitors. Saracen Bay is the most crowded beach here for tourists who come in huge groups to enjoy in its sparkling turquoise waters and white sands. As it is famous, you can find a pretty good number of hotels and resorts in this area. You will have lots of fun while swimming along with the plankton. On the other side of Koh Rong Sanloem is a true gem of this place called Lazy Beach. The sand is so soft here and dazzling water looks beautiful. Besides all of this, the rolling mountains are a spectacular view here. It is totally worth watching the sun setting amidst the mountains while dangling your legs dipped in wonderful waters of Sunset Beach. 

All these mustard-colored beaches have a lot of accommodations at cheap rates. You can spot so many palm bungalows and also those made of wood. The scenic jungles add more beauty to these options that you have for your night stay. The lazy beach is home for one of the oldest resorts here which serves unique sunset cocktails and hammocks. A visit there must make your day so much better. You can also meet local people and the villagers during your stay. 

-Reaching Koh Rong Sanloem
You can either take a ferry directly from Sihanoukville or charter a ferry from Koh Rong continuing your island hopping. The ferry costs are almost in the same range that you would have to pay for your journey to Koh Rong. While the costs of ferries from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Sanloem remain the same as that of Koh Rong, the charter ferries from Koh Rong to Koh Rong Sanloem cost you $10 for each trip. In fact, the travel time is also almost the same for both Koh Rong and Koh Ring Sanloem from Sihanoukville’s Serendipity pier. This is the same pier where you will have to buy your ferry tickets. The journey takes around 40 minutes from the Serendipity pier and if you make other stops along the way, it will take almost an hour. 

-Things To Do

There are very handful of activities that you get to do here because Koh Rong Sanloem is known more for its calming vibes and tranquility. You might find it more comfortable to relax and rejuvenate than to go for adventures. Besides swimming being the first thing you get to do here, you can go for more water activities like paddleboarding and snorkelling. If not, you can just take a book and enjoy reading or work on your tan welcoming the poise of the island.

Though Saracen Bay is the most popular area, M’Pai Bay is also quite popular and very happening throughout the day. It will be a bit nostalgic while you are there and you can walk to its local fishing village to eat some tasty fresh fish. 

Saracen Bay has a waterfall that tourists should never miss visiting its natural spring water. It is located in a thick jungle and in case, if you are willing to stay close by the waterfall, you can check out the Freedom Bungalow Resort that is pretty close to it. The most beautiful thing in the resort is that you will be able to access the waterfall directly from there and can go there whenever you want to. 

You can also try Kayaking which some tourists consider as a must-do attraction on the island of Koh Rong Sanloem. As its waters are blessed with sporadic landmasses, it can be really exciting to explore the intriguing waters.

Koh Thmei is a small island compared to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem but it is a paradise for those who love animals. Interestingly, it is a part of Ream National Park and Koh Thmei island has beautiful unspoiled beaches that are not at all polluted. The beaches have a very secluded coastline and its terrains are very attractive. It is one of the first reasons that you should visit this island to enjoy its beauty. It is largely pristine because tourism developed here very recently. Anyhow, you can have a great time just like how you would enjoy in other famous Cambodian islands. The serene jungles are a good attraction and you can explore them while you are on this island. 
There is only one place to stay on the island, Koh Thmei Resort. This resort will definitely make you feel happy away from the mundane and fast-paced city life. If you are someone who is environmentally conscious and would love an eco-friendly resort to stay in during your trips, this is the perfect place although you do not have an option. The resort management follows and supports sustainable tourism through the resort’s sea-view bungalows and their recycling efforts. 

-Reaching Koh Thmei

Just how you hop from one Cambodian island to another, you have options of travel to reach Koh Thmei. Continuing your island hopping, you can hitch a ride on a speed boat or travel by ferries and long-tail boats from Koh Rong Sanloem. Or else, you can start from Phnom Penh and take a taxi to Koh Kchhang for $60. Koh Kchhang is actually a fishing village located near the Koh Thmei Island. If you’re planning on starting from Sihanoukville, you can again take a taxi ride that costs you $22 to reach Koh Kchhang. If you have booked your stay at Koh Thmei Resort beforehand, the resort will provide a boat ride for you to reach your destination. There are also small boats operated by the villagers which you can take from the village pier to reach your destination on the island. 

-Things To Do

Koh Thmei is full of wildlife and you can spend your time spotting them everywhere. You will see everything from monkeys and civets to birds and lizards. You can call Koh Thmei island, a faun paradise. Bird-watchers would love this place and even if you are not one, who knows, you might actually develop the habit of it. You can find more than 100 different species of birds on Koh Thmei alone. 
Koh Themi has some of the best beaches in Cambodia that are pleasant and also deserted. So, you can escape the crowds and have a tranquil time. You will feel like you have the place all to yourself. You can go swimming in the charming waters and can try other water activities snorkeling too. You can also choose to hike or try kayaking. If you are having a good day, you might even see a dolphin dancing in the water by a lucky chance. 


Koh Ta Kiev is a less developed island in Cambodia and is also not so far from Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem. It is home to one of the few beaches in Cambodia that is undisturbed and is pristine. You can have a great time spending your days on the shore and swimming in the clear, unpolluted, and azure waters. You can go for snorkelling, try fishing, and also go for a walk in the jungle. You might feel frustrated because of the limited electricity but no need to worry because there are generators available. The mass of glowing plankton illuminates the waters and it is breathtaking to watch. Koh Ta Kiev is considered as a twin sister to Koh Thmei because they have similar characteristics. Koh Ta kiev is very peaceful and perfect for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle. You will also get a digital detox while you are here and it is worth it. 

Accommodation is quite interesting in Koh ta Kiev as you will get to experience the old lifestyle of Southeast Asia islands. They have unique and beautiful options for a stay like hammocks, basic huts, and even you will have a canvas option. Through these accommodation options, you can more comfortably enjoy the serenity and simplicity of the island. The whole experience will be raw and amazing. In fact, all of these accommodations even provide boat rides for their guests at just $10.

-Reaching Koh Ta Kiev
You can continue your island hopping from Koh Thmei to Koh Ta Kiev by hitching a ride on a speed boat or a long tail boat and a ferry. From Koh Thmei, it takes an hour on average by ferry but most of the long tail boats actually depart from Ream Beach to take you across the water to Koh Ta Kiev in just half an hour. You can also take a private boat if you want to reach here from Sihanoukville. The accommodations at Koh Ta Kiev also provide cheap boat rides within the island at just $10. 

-Things To Do

In Koh Ta Kiev, there are a lot of activities that you could occupy yourself with during your stay here. There are beautiful jungles that also have walking paths spread out between them. You can just go for a nature walk there and discover the wildlife of the island’s thick jungles.

Coral beach on Koh ta Kiev island is stunning and this is the best place to escape the island’s winter chills if you happen to be here around the season. Both daytime and nighttime are interesting and though Koh Ta Kiev has recently started development as a tourist place, it is quite happening and worth a visit.

If you love camping on the seashore, you can experience it on these beautiful Cambodian beaches for cheap rates. It hardly costs you a few dollars. Camp junkies can set up their tents or hammocks on the beach and enjoy the breathtaking sunsets The endless sea breeze feels wonderful here. 


If you want to visit a grand island among numerous Cambodian islands, Song Saa Island is your next stop. It is located off the Koh Rong coast and is actually a private island. The resort on this island is extravagant and you will have a great time while you are here. Having gourmet meals and pouring champagne in your glass are the most common things you get to do here and are actually one of the best things you will be doing on this island. 

For our stay, you can go to Villas at the Song Saa Resort that is available for prices starting at $890 per night and range up to $3,590 per night. If you have done a reservation earlier, you will get to avail of the private boat services of the Song Saa Resort to reach your destination. 
-Reaching Song Saa

Booking your villa earlier in Song Saa Resort and opting for their private boat service is the best option to hop from one island to another destination. You can always book an island tour of Cambodia as a whole. If not, you can also travel by ferries and long-tail boas to reach Song Saa Island. 

-Things To Do

Swimming in the clear and crystal waters of the Song Saa Island and in the private pool of your villa is the first thing you will do because you can not resist it once you see it. 

To have time for yourself or with your family and friends away from the crowd, you can plan a private beach picnic and bond over the soft white sand. You can always just go and try the nature treasure hunt on Song Saa. 

If you are looking for some adventure, you can go for island safari and if you are not at all in the mood to go our, just watch a movie comfortably in your villa. Island safari rides are very interesting and you can explore Song Saa Island from a different angle. 


Though you can go to an island in Cambodia from Sihanoukville or hop from one island to another by ferries, it is better to follow a pattern for a better experience. Koh Totang is in the Koh Sdach Archipelago in Cambodia that is so cool to visit and has some serious eco-credentials like many other islands in the country. Electricity is through solar power on the island and drinking water is generated from stored rainwater. In fact, they have composting toilets and bucket showers in bathrooms. 

The only resort on the island is the Nomads Land. The resort is isolated from crowds on the shore and the surroundings of it are just splendid. If you love to maintain a sustainable environment or if you follow principles of ecotourism, this place is the best on the whole island. The colorful bungalows of the resort are quirky and make tourists feel like bohemians on the Cambodian islands. They are strung with a number of deck corners to chill and hammocks.  
-Reaching Koh Totang

The high season is from November to March and Koh Totang island will be packed with tourists and the journey costs high too. It will also become difficult to book transportation or stay options. But from the month of June, the prices decrease you might have to deal with storm clouds on the horizon from your stay in the bungalow. You can easily find ferries departing from Sihanoukville bay and you can also hop on a speed boat or long-tail boat if you are reaching Koh Totang from other islands. It takes a maximum of an hour to reach Koh Totang and once you reach your destination, you have to avail the private boat services by the resort on the island. In fact, resorts usually provide boat services for cheaper rates for their customers, especially if they book early. 

-Things To Do

The Nomads Land resort provides group adventure packages and also solo trips with adventure gear. You receive free paddleboards, kayaks, and also snorkelling gear from the sunset beach of Koh Totang island. 

Swimming and diving are the best experiences here as they allow you to become more engaged with the place and its beaches. The turquoise waters and the loom of sea urchins beneath it are breathtaking while you dive into the beaches with your gear. Operators like Garden Diving Center and others will help you through your ride under the water.

You can also try snorkelling and fishing across the jungle on the sunset beach. You have to take care as you might come across rubbish and waste washing up on the shore.

It feels excellent to spend your time spotting wildlife while you are on this island. You can reconnect with nature, wildlife, and its habitat. The coral reef gardens are home to a variety of colorful fishes and the glowing plankton is also here like many other islands in Cambodia.

Koh Pring is also called as the diver’s paradise of Cambodia. You can dive in the enchanting waters anytime be it early in the morning or late in the night. You have to organize everything prior to your visit and you also have to book your diving spots early. You can book them at the Dive Shop located in Sihanoukville or on Koh Rong island as most of the tourists start their island hopping in Cambodia from these two places. The eight-hour-long boat journey is brave to opt for and also many backpackers choose this to view the beautiful surroundings along the way and to learn about sea life. The atmosphere will be calm and serene on Koh Pring island. In fact, spending a night travelling on this island is also beautiful. You can immerse yourself in the island’s culture and spend some valuable time.

You can set up a cozy camp on the sandy beaches and stay there during the night. There are however stay options like bungalows and a few resorts if you do not like camping on the island. 


Koh Tonsay island is also referred to as Rabbit Island by tourists and Cambodian natives. It is one of the most easily accessible islands in Cambodia and Koh Tonsay is a very famous local hotspot. Most Cambodian locals consider Koh Tonsay as the best weekend getaway because you can easily get to this island from any bay. You can relax by the beach that has tranquil waters or you can go explore the island. It takes roughly three to four hours to see the whole island to its best. There are very few bays to swim, dive, and enjoy the marine life but the island is worth a visit if you are travelling to Cambodia. You can enjoy the serenity and calmness on the island but you have to know that power goes out at ten o’clock every day. The generators will be switched off but you will be assured of good and sound sleep in the night. 

This post was published by Sravya Ronanki

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