Hidden Beauty In Southern Cambodia
Travel4 Minutes Read

Hidden Beauty In Southern Cambodia

March 17, 2022 Share

Cambodia may not be known for its luxury resorts — but the southern shores of the country are a remote tropical paradise.

The south of Cambodia is reminiscent of Thailand’s popular islands, before the crowds and commercialisation. Something about the remoteness of the area evokes a feeling of exploration and discovery.

A bridge to an island in Southern Cambodia.
Cambodia’s southern coast is still largely undeveloped. Credit: Ben Stern

The mass tourism boom that has gripped much of the region is slowly beginning to take hold.

Sihanoukville, the coast’s largest city, has already suffered from overdevelopment — pushing out much of the local charm that makes southern Cambodia an authentic and welcoming place to be.

That said, many of the islands retain their authenticity and are well worth a visit.

Koh Rong is where most of the action happens, backpackers flock to this area to party on the beaches into the early hours of the morning. If you’re looking to let out your wild side, this island is for you.

Classic and affordable, but surprisingly accommodating, beach bungalows are offered for rent around the island, your doors open to the white sand beaches and calm blue waters of the Gulf of Thailand.

Koh Rong in Southern Cambodia, green vegetation surrounding a beach.
Koh Rong, Cambodia is popular with backpackers and luxury travellers alike. Credit: Paul Szewczyk

On the other end of the luxury spectrum, Song Saa private island, in the Koh Rong archipelago, is Cambodia’s premier luxury resort. Although private island is a bit of a misnomer — there is a 27-room hotel — this is the most exclusive lodging you can get in Cambodia.

The island’s accommodation was built with conservation and sustainability in mind— you can stay here guilt-free in a region where nature often suffers due to over-commercialisation.

The Vista Bar and Restaurant serves Khmer (Cambodian) Western fusion dishes using fresh and organic produce offering stunning views of the ocean.

The island is fully equipped with a gym and water sports area for sailing, diving and kayaking as well as local excursions.

A pier going into the ocean, Southern Cambodia.
Credit: Paul Szewczyk

Something incredible often happens in Cambodia’s Southern Islands — millions of bioluminescent plankton congregate and light the sea with an electric blue.

If the plankton is around, it is an unforgettable experience to do a night swim and experience the beauty of the countless microscopic creatures lighting the ocean around you.

Song Saa offers a professional tour to see this natural wonder — the more intrepid can often simply go swimming off the beach at night.

A young man on a boat.
Southern Cambodia is still authentic in a region prone to over-commercialisation. Credit: Paul Szewczyk

Sixth Senses on Krabey Island is another luxury resort that doesn’t feel tainted by the tourist boom.  The resort focuses on wellness — guests can rejuvenate and revive with yoga, massages, meditation and sleep programs.

Aha and Tree are the restaurants here serving Khmer and international dishes which are as flavourful as they are health conscious. Again, all food here is locally sourced, much of it from organic farms.

The Sunset Bar — you guessed it — is best at sunset for a drink with a view.

Nestled in the jungle, this resort can be a great end to a holiday where guests can unwind before heading back to the real world.

Sunset in Kep, Southern Cambodia seen from a pier.
Credit: Paul Szewczyk

Although the islands of Cambodia’s south are still naturally pristine, it is feared that this will not last for long. Already Chinese companies are developing significant portions of the coast into mega-casino-resorts and frankly, Cambodia’s environmental protection laws are not up to the task at present to preserve all of this wonderful area.

Now is the time to go to Cambodia’s southern coast — choosing a sustainable way to stay to help promote the importance of keeping this paradise as untouched as possible.

Author: Matthew Dooley