The Cambodian coast features palm-fringed beaches, a scattering of resorts and some beautiful offshore islands where a castaway ambience prevails, while inland are a series of national parks and some impressive mountain scenery. Whether you opt for Kep, Sihanoukville or Koh Rong, a stay on Cambodia's southern shores is an ideal conclusion to an exhilarating tour of cultural delights.
Kep, which was founded as a seaside retreat for the French elite in 1908, became the favoured haunt of privileged Cambodians before falling on hard times under Khmer Rouge rule when the city became all but deserted. Today, Kep is experiencing something of a renaissance, with many seduced by its narrow sandy beaches, crumbling colonial buildings, tranquil atmosphere and delicious seafood - particularly crab. Additionally, Kep's interior is occupied by Kep National Park where a variety of trails reward you with pagodas, wats and viewpoints along with a variety of flora and fauna. Day trips to the little known Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) are also highly recommended. Lined with gorgeous palm groves, this stunning secluded stretch of sands offers a castaway experience, whether you take a blissful promenade around the coastline or take a nap on a swinging hammock, it's a wonderful laid-back escape.
Sihanoukville is Cambodia's premier beach resort and offers something for all tastes. Overlooking the Gulf of Thailand the peninsula of Sihanoukville is surrounded by tropical white sand beaches and a smattering of undeveloped offshore islands. There are a number of beaches around Sihanoukville, including busy Occheuteal and Serendipity Beaches, quieter Otres Beach and, our favourite, Sokha Beach. This radiant stretch of sands, lapped by clear shallow waters, is an ideal choice for swimming, relaxing or indulging in watersports. Additionally, boat trips to the surrounding offshore islands where coral reefs are perfect for snorkelling or diving are also available and a lovely way to while away a few hours.
For a true Robinson Crusoe experience, the dazzling Koh Rong archipelago is quite possibly that clichéd tropical island paradise you've been seeking. Most of the islands remain undeveloped and boast glistening white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise water teeming with marine life and deserted oases of virgin rainforest. Lying secluded in this magnificent seascape is Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia's first luxury private island resort where all villas have their own plunge pool and you can forget the hustle and bustle of real life and lose yourself in the natural world.
GMT +7 hours
Kep is approximately 2 hours 30 minutes drive from Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville is around 3 hours 30 minutes drive from Phnom Penh or a 50 minute flight from Siem Reap. Song Saa Private Island is a 35 minute boat journey from Sihanoukville port.
As with much of Cambodia, the southern coast has two seasons – wet and dry. The wet season runs from May to October/early November and brings, not surprisingly, rain – although it does tend to be short, heavy downpours rather than lasting all day, so still a good time to travel. The dry season runs from November through to April and is the perfect time to bask on the beach.
A visa may be required. Please ask for details.Find out more