When planning island getaways and beach resorts in Cambodia in Southeast Asia, it's easy to gravitate towards Thailand. Renowned for its clear blue waters encasing pearly white sand, Thailand's coastline has grown rapidly in popularity and can be overcrowded. However, right on its doorstep lie Cambodia's largely undiscovered beaches.
The Cambodian coastline comprises several relatively undisturbed islands, each with one or two secluded hotels. You can stay on all the beaches I discuss below as part of a luxury Cambodia tour with My Way Travel. Or, incorporate them into a trip that explores Cambodia's communities and natural environment under the direction of our in-depth Cambodia travel guide.
What makes Cambodia a good beach destination?
Cambodia burst onto the beach scene when travelers began converging on the pristine ivory sands of Sihanoukville. Yet, this tranquil town swiftly transformed into a bustling coastal retreat, hemmed in by towering skyscrapers and glitzy casinos.
Sihanoukville is a gateway to Cambodia's more serene, powdery-white beaches and islands. Once you venture beyond the vibrant pulse of the country's cities, you'll savor the gentle caress of the ocean breeze on your skin and indulge in top-notch hospitality at Cambodia's boutique hotels and secluded, eco-conscious escapes.
Good for: eco-friendly luxury stays
You'll notice a strong sense of solitude as soon as you step onto Koh Krabey's immaculate shores. It's as though you've embarked on a journey to an undiscovered paradise, a realm untouched by the hustle and bustle of the outside world. Hidden within the lush expanse of a sprawling rainforest, you'll uncover the exquisite gem that is Six Senses Koh Krabey's private island retreat.
Here, tranquility reigns supreme, and luxury intertwines seamlessly with intimacy. The architectural marvels that dot the landscape have been thoughtfully designed to harmonize with the verdant foliage, creating a haven that beckons discerning travelers and many avian and butterfly inhabitants. And while Koh Krabey might offer fewer sandy shores than its island counterparts, its sweeping seascapes effortlessly compensate for this scarcity, ensuring an enchanting escape.
Where to stay: Six Senses Koh Krabey
Nestled amidst the lush palms, Six Senses Koh Krabey seamlessly blends natural elements, cutting-edge technology, and opulent indulgence, all in harmony with its pristine surroundings. The resort's unwavering dedication to sustainability, which is evident in its exclusive use of eco-friendly materials and ground-breaking efforts in reef conservation, among other initiatives, truly resonates with me.
As you enter this tropical haven, you'll discover a collection of secluded pool villas surrounded by a vibrant tapestry of green foliage. From your sanctuary, breathtaking vistas of the azure sea and the verdant jungle unfold before you. Whether you seek serenity at their world-renowned spa or yearn for a touch of cinematic magic beneath the celestial canopy during open-air movie nights, Six Senses Koh Krabey offers a haven of leisure.
Alternatively, delve into the resort's organic farm, where a captivating two-hour adventure awaits, or lose yourself in the awe-inspiring spectacle of a night sky devoid of light pollution, courtesy of their state-of-the-art observatory.
Good for: a traditional beach experience
The second-largest gem in Cambodia, Koh Rong, offers endless stretches of powdery, ivory beaches caressed by turquoise waves. What was once a cluster of rustic stilted abodes, the village of Koh Touch has transformed into a vibrant hotspot, drawing in revelers seeking nocturnal adventures. However, should you yearn for solitude reminiscent of a modern-day Robinson Crusoe, seek solace on the enchanting shores known as 'Long' and 'Lonely.'
This island has forged its community, christened the 'Friends of Koh Rong,' dedicated to aiding the local populace in adapting to the surge of island enthusiasts. Dive into this generous spirit by participating in a shoreline cleanup or lending a hand in imparting conversational English to the island's residents.
Where to stay: The Royal Sands Hotel
Nestled along a pristine, sun-kissed western shoreline, the Royal Sands Hotel weaves a story with its array of seaside villas, offering captivating beachfront vistas and mesmerizing ocean panoramas. Immerse yourself in the magic of this natural wonderland with guided expeditions through lush jungle trails or dive into a world of aqueous adventures, whether it's the art of paddleboarding or the enchanting allure of snorkeling in the crystal-clear embrace of the sea.
The hotel-led evening excursions, however, are where you can see the island's bioluminescent wonders. Picture this: tiny, luminous plankton gracefully pirouetting amidst the tranquil ripples. This spectacle, reserved for locales devoid of light pollution, beckons you to explore its secrets. You'll be in the best spots thanks to an expert's guidance. Gaze in awe as azure orbs twinkle and shimmer, evoking the splendor of a starry night sky.
Song Saa Private Island
Song Saa Private Island
Good for: a luxury beach stay
The Song Saa resort is a five-star establishment that spans the narrow channel between the islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong. Song Saa is a tropical sanctuary where you may discover guarded white sand beaches and a preserved coral reef since locals built it using local resources. Their guiding principle combines resort growth with environmental protection and social responsibility.
Where to stay: Song Saa Private Island
Song Saa beckons with the allure of 24 secluded pool villas nestled on one island and a charming collection of hidden retreats scattered across the other. Whether you while away the hours on pristine, untouched shores or embark on invigorating hikes through the island's lush rainforest trails, Song Saa ensures that your island sojourn unfolds at your desired tempo.
Immerse yourself in the treasure trove of experiences offered by Song Saa, from partaking in a captivating treasure hunt that unveils the island's secrets, savoring their delectable cuisine infused with the rich flavors of Kampot pepper, to finding serenity through meditation. For the ultimate cinematic indulgence, picture yourself in Cambodia's exclusive over-water villas, where you can enjoy a private screening of your favorite movie, complete with a generous serving of popcorn, all from the sumptuous comfort of your bed.
Good for: an undisturbed island experience
Koh Russey, located a half-hour boat trip from Sihanoukville, offers a startling contrast to the metropolis. The islanders have tried to preserve as much of the environment as possible despite the beach's lack of striking features compared to Koh Rong. I spent much time looking for stingrays and angelfish with a mask and snorkel.
Untamed, sweeping forest and swooning palm palms surround the pale shoreline. There are a few bungalows and upscale resorts scattered among the thick jungle.
Where to stay: Alila Villas
Nestled upon a secluded stretch of shoreline, the Alila is a haven infused with the tranquility of Zen, its charming villas resembling slate-gray Cubist masterpieces entwined amidst the lush embrace of jungle foliage. An array of delights awaits here, from open-air beachside cinema screenings to serene yoga classes and a luxurious spa where relaxation knows no bounds. And for those seeking adventure, the opportunity to explore neighboring islands and winding mangrove waterways beckons from the deck of a boat.
Yet, the Alila's allure extends far beyond its aesthetic and recreational offerings. Deep-rooted in its design is an unwavering commitment to preserving the island's natural splendor. Its unassuming structures stand as guardians of biodiversity, staunchly combating soil erosion and embracing energy-efficient practices. A sanctuary for marine life, a fishing exclusion zone encircles the property, ensuring the delicate balance of the ocean ecosystem. Meanwhile, within the restaurant's kitchen, a dedication to local sourcing and devotion to the farm-to-table philosophy converge, culminating in a culinary journey that marries Khmer and French flavors in exquisite harmony.
Good for: a boutique seaside town
Kep, nestled along the traditional Cambodian coastline, beckons you to wander through bustling markets and savor its renowned peppery crab dish. This seaside haven boasts a rugged shoreline, so if your heart longs for velvety sands, I'd suggest hiring a local boat to venture into the nearby islands.
This locale ascended to prominence as a favored French colonial retreat, offering respite from the sweltering Cambodian capital. While the beach may not steal the spotlight in Kep, you can still imbibe the salty ocean breeze as you explore rows of abandoned Modernist villas, soaking up the tranquil ambiance. Come weekends, the town awakens with the enchanting rhythms of live music and the allure of dance.
Where to stay: Knai Bang Chatt
Nestled within the serene enclave of Knai Bang Chatt, a cluster of colonial villas has been meticulously rejuvenated, giving rise to an exquisite boutique hotel that is a splendid tribute to the New Khmer design ethos. As you step onto this hallowed ground, you'll find yourself nestled in an ambiance that gracefully weaves together the raw, unspoiled charm of Southeast Asia's past with the bold, avant-garde strokes of Modernist architecture. Moreover, this harmonious haven grants guests the privilege of awe-inspiring vistas where the fiery sun gracefully descends below the tranquil waters.
Beyond its architectural splendor, Knai Bang Chatt is a testament to community engagement's power. The hotel is deeply committed to its local surroundings, channeling resources into improving healthcare facilities and educational opportunities. Most significantly, they have a deep commitment to fostering young minds, which is evident in their unwavering support for university scholarships, ensuring that the seeds of knowledge grow in this magical region of the world.
Sihanoukville beach at sunset
The beaches in this article are accessible from Sihanoukville, about four hours from Phnom Penh. You may visit most of the hotels through the public pier or private piers operating their own shuttle services. The expansion of the airport at Sihanoukville has greatly improved accessibility. Today, combining a trip to Bangkok, Vietnam, or other areas of Cambodia is simple with a stay on one of the country's beaches.
When is the best time to visit Cambodia's beaches and islands?
The greatest times to go are between December and March when pleasant, bright days often coincide with starry nights.
I advise staying away from these beaches between June and September since the islands are prone to severe rainstorms and humid air. Additionally, rough seas may prevent you from traveling to the islands.
Start planning your trip to Cambodia
Start thinking about your experience. These itineraries are simply suggestions for how you could enjoy some of the same experiences as our specialists. They’re just for inspiration, because your trip will be created around your particular tastes.