I love travelling in Asia. I've visited Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. I hope you enjoy my articles.
Cambodia has it all—beautiful beaches, ancient temples, excellent food, friendly people with an excellent grasp of the English language and so much more. I enjoy hiking, riding a motorbike, renting a bicycle when in the calm areas and, of course, driving around in a tuk-tuk with a competent local guide. But you can just as easily spend days getting lost in the enormous Angkor Temple complex, pleasing your inner Indiana Jones and reading up on Southeast Asian history.
When you are done touring many of the historic buildings and must-see destinations, you'll want to relax in one of the tropical paradises that made you hungry to go here in the first place. Cambodia has some excellent places filled with palm trees and white tropical beaches. Below we cover some of the most worthwhile beach-rich places in Cambodia.
The 5 Most Gorgeous Cambodian Beaches
- Otres Beach & Long Beach in Sihanoukville
- Koh Tonsay Beaches
- Koh Rong Beaches in Cambodia
- Koh Kong Island
- Ream National Park in Sihanoukville
1. Otres Beach & Long Beach in Sihanoukville
The beautiful beaches in Cambodia are increasingly popular with visitors. They are the perfect place to relax after touring the temples. Otres Beach is one of the most up-and-coming beaches in the area around Sihanoukville. Just beyond the Phnom Som Nak Sdach headland lies a beautiful stretch of beach that is probably one of Cambodia’s best-kept secrets. Otres Beach really is worth finding on your Cambodian holiday.
Otres Beach 1 and Long Beach
The beach at Otres is split into three distinct areas. Otres 1 is definitely the busiest part and is the first section. Around 2km further down the coast is Otres 2 which is also known as Long Beach. Ok, Otres Beach will not be your desert island personal beach fantasy. I cover some of those examples in other blog posts. If you are looking for a nice beach experience this one is still hard to pass on.
The third section is at Otres Village which is a delightful estuary area. Otres beach is still very much under the radar, but it has lots of activities for visitors and is growing in popularity. Windsurfing is one of the most popular things to do and paddleboards can be rented out on the northern end of the beach. Sea kayaking is another way to explore the area, and this can also be arranged on the beach.
Otres Beach Surfing and Snorkeling
At some times of the year (May to September) there is surf at Otres Beach. Boards are also available via the rental service at Otres Beach. There is also snorkeling or simply relaxing in the sun. The more adventurous traveler might like to try kitesurfing here where the views across the islands and ocean are awesome.
Some people also like to sail here. There are catamarans for rental too which are perfect for island hopping. Otres Beach is a fabulous way to experience Cambodia and its beaches, whether you visit for a day or stay longer.
2. Koh Tonsay Beaches
Known as Rabbit Island, Koh Tonsay in Cambodia is just off Kep and has some of the loveliest beaches in the region. This is an up-and-coming area of Cambodia for a chilled out vacation and got its name because the island looks like the shape of a rabbit.
Kep – Koh Tonsay Island Boat Trip
Koh Tonsay is very laid back with a few guest houses and cafes. It is quite basic compared to other resorts and can be reached by boat from Kep. Some people just visit for the day whilst others stay longer. If you are just going there for the day, do make sure the boat crew knows you want to return. Otherwise, you could spend longer than you expect on Koh Tonsay.
Koh Tonsay Atmosphere and Activities
Most of the action is around the 250 meters long west-facing beach which is ideal for watching a sunset. You can swim and snorkel here or dine on fresh seafood from the local café. The beach usually has cows and chickens wandering on the sand which is a little different from most resorts but all part of Koh Tonsay’s unique atmosphere.
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Koh Svay and Koh Pos
Fishing is another popular activity, with several local boatmen happy to take visitors out to catch something. Koh Svay and Koh Pos are two other small islands within a short boat ride of Koh Tonsay.
Life is quiet on Koh Tonsay Cambodia. At 10 pm the lights go out as the generator stops working for the night. Bring a torch and enjoy the simplistic and peaceful way of life here on this small island.
3. Koh Rong Beaches in Cambodia
Some of Cambodia’s best-kept secrets are the beautiful beaches and the island of Koh Rong is no exception. Lying off the coast at Sihanoukville, Koh Rong has 43km of beaches to discover and is Cambodia’s second-largest island. The speedboat from Sihanoukville takes 45 minutes to arrive but you’ll feel as though you are in a different and more relaxing place.
Koh Rong Island
Koh Rong has very few people living on the island and a cluster of four villages. These have guest houses and bungalows which make great places to stay while you get to know Koh Rong island. You’ll find a few cafes and bars too.
Koh Rong Beaches
The beaches are definitely the highlight here. Koh Tui or Pinetree beach stretches along the coast from the pier in Koh Tui and is one of the best. Sok San beach is renowned for 7km of white sands and you’ll easily find a space to chill out and relax here. The best thing about Koh Rong is that you can jump in a boat and find your own private beach along the coast and spend the day relaxing.
Koh Rong Diving
Koh Rong has a lot of things for visitors to do. One of the most famous is scuba diving, and the islands of Sihanoukville, like Koh Rong, have some of the best dive sites in this region. If you don’t have a PADI certificate you can also earn it here. Prices for diving are fine and although less impressive than let's say Indonesia it’s still very nice to be in the water in this area.
Kayaking, Island-Hopping & Deep-Sea Fishing
Sea kayaking is another popular activity with equipment rented from the pier at Koh Rong. Island-hopping and deep-sea fishing are alternative ways of keeping visitors occupied. There are organized jungle walks on Koh Rong too and its forest is really beautiful with some wildlife. Look off the coastline at Lazy beach and you may even spot a sea eagle.
If you are like me and wander a little from time to time you’ll probably enjoy yourself at these beaches. I like spending some time reading under a palm tree and just enjoy less crowded beach life. So, if you are looking for a place to chill out after touring the temples then head out on a boat to Koh Rong. You won’t be disappointed.
4. Koh Kong Island
Walking through mangroves and exploring some desolate Cambodian beaches. Koh Kong has to be on any nature lovers to visit list when traveling Southeast Asia. Koh Kong is less crowded than most other islands and beach regions in Cambodia. If you are looking for beaches where you and your friends are the only ones there this is the place to go. If you want to stay overnight and BBQ on the beach you'll have to bring your own supplies and discuss this with the boat owner beforehand.
Koh Kong Mangrove Forest Cambodia
The area around Koh Kong is an up-and-coming conservation area with many different projects focused on preserving the environment. Just outside Koh Kong City is Cambodia’s largest island. Koh Kong Island has seven beaches with places to stay and is in a beautiful location.
Apart from relaxing on a beach one of the most interesting features of the island is the Peam Krasaop Mangrove Sanctuary.
Protecting The Cambodian Island Shoreline
The 250 square km expanse of mangroves has a pivotal role in protecting the island shoreline from erosion. It is also a breeding ground for fish, shellfish and the shrimps seen in everyday cuisine in Cambodia.
These mangroves are home to thousands of birds and are part of the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor where several other conservation projects have been located. This is in sharp contrast to neighboring Thailand where these forests have been decimated.
Koh Kong Mangrove Walk
One of the best ways to see how this natural forest works to protect the island is to head to the Mangrove Walk- a 600-meter concrete walkway through the water to a tower. Sometimes monkeys hang out here and from the tower, you get to see how the mangroves help defend the island from the power of the waves.
It really is nature helping nature. Close by there is a small resort, and if you wanted to avoid this area and see the mangroves without buildings, then the best way to do that is by motorboat tour.
Boat Tours Koh Kong Mangrove Forest
Boat tours of this area are ideal to see the surrounding area and the fishing villages which are close by and thrive on the ecosystem within the mangrove forest. These villagers have wooden fishing traps where fish are kept alive until they are needed for food.
This is nature’s refrigerator and guarantees fresh fish. There are even more islands further out to sea and there are isolated beaches ideal for a swim.
Wetlands Of International Importance
The Koh Kong Mangrove Forest is listed on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance and is an amazing place to observe birdlife as well as the other natural features.
However, the area is constantly under threat from the sand dredging conducted by Singapore in this region. It is for this reason that raising awareness of the area and the impact of both pollution and dredging on Cambodia is an important role for tourism.
The Koh Kong Conservation Corridor runs from Koh Kong to the Gulf of Kompong Som. There are several conservation projects in the area which is protected. This includes projects relating to the Cardamom Mountains and the protection of the wildlife in the region including the rare pangolin.
Visitors to these areas can see a unique habitat and way of life but can also help with the conservation through admission fees to attractions and by simply showing interest. Whilst the peace of the mangroves is here for now unless it is supported to remain these natural barriers will be lost forever. Go see it when you visit Cambodia.
5. Ream National Park in Sihanoukville
Ream National Park is a Southeast Asian wildlife treasure and a change of pace for Cambodia travelers. You'll find some very nice beaches in the area, but the real beauty is the fauna and flora.
Not that many people realize you can go trekking in Cambodia. You see this more in Northern Thailand and Laos. But there are some wonderful places and Ream National Park is one. Just 15km from Sihanoukville lies a large expanse of land. It has mangrove swamps, prime forest, and lovely beaches.
Not only is it popular with trekkers and those looking to escape the crowds of Sihanoukville, but it is also a nature reserve. Ream National Park is home to breeding colonies of several birds of prey. These include the grey-headed fish eagle, the Brahminy Kite, and white-bellied sea eagle.
These beautiful birds can often be spotted over Prek Toeuk Sap Estuary so taking a pair of binoculars on a visit to this part of Cambodia is a must. Even on the mud flats, there are more bird species which include the painted stork and milky stork.
Whilst this nature reserve is home to endangered species Ream National Park is at risk of being destroyed through the development of the tourist industry along its coastline.
Visitors can help by promoting the natural habitat as a precious resource. At Ream, there are some interesting jungle walks that visitors can do which are led by rangers through the mountainous terrain.
More popular activities include boat trips through the mangrove swamps, which are perfect for getting up close to the natural beauty of the area and for seeing some of the small villages. If you like mangroves I can also recommend Koh Kong’s mangroves.
Koh Seh and Koh Thmei
The national park also includes two islands within its territory which are Koh Seh and Koh Thmei, both of which are renowned for snorkeling. It is possible to drive to some of the more deserted beaches in Ream National Park.
Some of the best include Koh Sampoach Beach. This is a beautiful part of Cambodia with a fragile environment that deserves to remain protected.
© 2019 Sam Shepards