Name: Angela Heathcote
Place Travelled: Koh Rong Island, Cambodia
What was your favourite place in Cambodia and why?
Back in 2014 I travelled throughout Cambodia but there was honestly no place like Koh Rong Island. My group of friends and I had absolutely no intention of going here so it was a last minute decision. And YES – it was the setting for Survivor in 2012. This place is largely untouched and totally off the beaten track. We were warned by many who call Koh Rong home that in only matter of years the place would be so popular that it would lose exactly what makes it so amazing. There is no roadwork and it’s interiors are totally uninhabited which made for some amazingly reflective bush walks (swinging on vines included.) One whole half of the island has ONE shack and the rest is all beach. Another thing that I loved was that we had no reception and no wifi meaning we had to constantly entertain ourselves on this island in the middle of no where.
Five items that were absolute must have on your trip to Koh Rong Island?
⇒ Money– Because there are no ATMs on the Island, but you won’t need more than about $100 for 3-4 nights (everything included.)
⇒ Sunscreen– The sun on this island is KILLER.
⇒ Runners– Any kind of shoes that you’re able to exercise in and you don’t mind getting ruined. The bush walks were super intense and I did these in sandals! Much regret…
⇒ Insect repellent– I didn’t have a terrible experience with insects but other people I was with could not stand being without insect repellent so keep this in mind!
⇒ Books– I can honestly say that sharing a small shack with one of my friends, 1o metres from the beach close enough to hear all the waves, late at night with a small lamp and a good book is something I still daydream about.
Did you find any sights or activities down the road less travelled?
A lot of people choose not to trek it because the beach that the ferry ports on is amazing enough but if you’re feeling adventurous do the bush walk and cross over to the other side of the island to Long Beach. It is literally one LONG strip of beach that is totally impeded by NOT A DAMN THING. The sand is pure white and the water is the clearest I’ve ever seen in my life. Make sure you take towels and a tonne of sunscreen because there’s not a lot of shade. Getting there took us a solid 2 hour trek but it was extremely worth it. the trek reminded me of something off Tarzan, it had that many curbs and surprises.
#TBT to the weirdest thing to happen to you on your trip to Koh Rong Island?
During our stay on Koh Rong Island we took a boat out to sea in complete darkness to swim with the millions of Bioluminescent Phytoplankton which light up like fireflies in the water as you move around them. One of the craziest experiences ever. It costs a mere $5 USD and although it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life (you have to jump in pitch black water for the plankton to light up and I have an enormous fear of sharks) it was something that I am still so captured by. i encourage everyone to do this once in your life! And it’s something that has to be experienced in the flesh because it’s pretty much impossible to take a decent photo hence the soggy mess below.
Mandatory student austerity question: What was the budget like for Koh Rong Island?
Koh Rong is so cheap. It is the PERFECT destination for student travellers. If you intend on travelling Cambodia add Koh Rong to your itinerary a 3-4 night stay won’t cost you over $100. You saty right on the beach, and this is no exaggeration. Food and Alcohol is ridiculously cheap, and weed cookies are in abundance. I travelled in a group of 4 and each of us paid $15 USD a night to stay in bungalows/beach shacks. Each morning I would pay $2 USD for an enormous dish of fruit salad compiled by the sweetest old lady, and when I say variety…I mean VARIETY. This woman has every fruit in existence. So food nor accommodation is a set back.
#Foodbucketlist: Best eats?
Like I mentioned above, the Island Ladies fruit salad is a must. Whilst travelling Cambodia I became obsessed with Dragonfruit smoothies with condensed milk (I know, I know but I was on holidays OKAY!) Also, everyone on the island is obsessed with hash cookies so it that’s your deal, you have t try them!
What advice would you give to other people who are traveling to Koh Rong Island?
Always take advice from other travellers when you go to Cambodia. We made a snap decision late on Christmas Eve and each one of us can say that it was the best part of our trip. A lot of travel sites will tell you that Sihanoukville is the best place to beach it up and relax in Cambodia but I have to disagree. A 30 minute boat ride outside of Sihanoukville and I can guarantee you won’t look back and you ill actually pity those who settled for the main land.
My travel mantra is…
Fight the feeling to come home!