The 9 Best Beaches in Cambodia

Koh Russei beach, Cambodia
Koh Russei beach, Cambodia.

Matthew Micah Wright/Getty Images

Its Khmer temples have long overshadowed Cambodia’s beaches, but they’re a worthwhile detour for visitors who go out of the way to see them.

The country’s 270 miles of coastline lie along the western edge of the Gulf of Thailand, sandwiched between Thailand and Vietnam. Only a few spots along this coast offer anything close to the quality of beaches you’d expect in neighboring Thailand: Sihanoukville, Kep, and their respective adjoining islands; the twin islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem; and the relatively undeveloped island of Koh Kong.

The beaches listed here represent some of Cambodia’s best: while lacking the development of their Thailand counterparts, Cambodia’s beaches make up for this by their charming atmosphere and natural beauty.

01 of 09

Long Beach, Koh Rong

Long Beach, Koh Rong

Jackmalipan/Getty Images

Its seclusion has protected Long Beach (also called Sok San Beach) from the development that has since swept through Koh Toch in Koh Rong. That's all for the Long Beach visitor's benefit: this four-mile beach has few amenities and few attractions beyond the stretch of squeaky white sand and the blue waters lapping on its length.

Visitors can choose the basic accommodations on the north part of the beach or go more deluxe at the Royal Sands Koh Rong at the southern end. After watching the sunset from the beach, book a boat tour to see the glow-in-the-dark plankton swimming off Long Beach.

Long Beach's isolation made it the perfect setting for the Survivor TV show's 32nd season.

Getting there: The 45-minute hike from Koh Toch Village to Long Beach is free; a boat ride can be hired to take you from the same village, costing about $20 (or less, if you can haggle).

Continue to 2 of 9 below.
02 of 09

Saracen Bay, Koh Rong Samloem

Saracen Bay, Koh Rong Samloem

Diy13/Getty Images

Saracen Bay is Koh Rong Samloem’s main tourist stretch—the jetties that stretch from the white-sand shores shuttle visitors in and out daily. As far as tourist hotspots go, it isn’t as frantic as Phuket or even Koh Toch in neighboring Koh Rong; the 20-plus resorts along Saracen Bay’s beachfront favor quieter visitors more ready to kick back than to party.

There’s more to do than just catch the rays on the beach. Watch the sunrise from your resort terrace. For aquatic fun, look for the scuba diving center near Orchid Resort to arrange a snorkeling or scuba-diving trip in the waters nearby; or take a boat tour around Koh Rong Samloem. The Freedom Waterfall can be found north of Saracen Bay.

Getting there: Saracen Bay is a 40-minute ferry ride from Sihanoukville on the mainland.

Continue to 3 of 9 below.
03 of 09

Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), Kep

Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), Kep

primeimages/Getty Images

This 500-acre island off Kep, close to the border with Vietnam, is a rustic getaway with basic amenities and a whole lot of atmosphere. Locals often make a day trip to the island, attracted by the two gradually-sloping white-sand beaches and the excellent fishing in the surrounding waters.

Activities around Koh Tonsay include swimming, snorkeling around the corals, and eating the local Cambodian food served from the local eateries. Guesthouses around the island are ready to accommodate overnighters.

This may change soon, as the Try Pheap Koh Tunsay Resorts company has been authorized to build a resort covering over half the island. While the company pledges to retain 60 percent of the existing forest cover, that may change the island's character in the long run.

Getting there: Visitors can take a 20-minute boat ride from Kep. Buses from Phnom Penh regularly take the three-hour drive to get there.

Continue to 4 of 9 below.
04 of 09

Otres Beach, Sihanoukville

Otres Beach, Sihanoukville

Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

This beach on Sihanoukville is two; Otres 1 on the north end has a littering problem, while Otres 2 has a few more high-end resorts.

Both beaches have moved on from Sihanoukville’s old role as a backpacker-friendly beach town, becoming more of a casino stopover for wealthy Chinese (many of whom have invested in the new resorts rising over the coastline). However, the two Otreses are still the best place for foreign tourists to chill out on in the area.

Live music and good food can be found at Otres Market at the southern end of Otres 2, leaning heavily towards the seafood barbecues favored by local tourists. Windsurfing on Otres Beach is recommended between the calmer months of January and April.

Getting there: Sihanoukville is accessible from Phnom Penh via bus, plane, or via the newly-reopened Royal Railway.

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Lazy Beach, Koh Rong Samloem

Lazy Beach, Koh Rong Samloem

Stockcrafter/Getty Images

This private beach on Koh Rong Samloem is the centerpiece for a rustic 20-bungalow resort, an even more laid-back beach stop relative to Saracen Bay on the other side of the island. Another slight difference: Lazy Beach has light-brown sand, not the dazzling white of its cross-island counterpart.

Given its distance from civilization, Lazy Beach is the best place to enjoy nature unchained: from snorkeling or scuba-diving in the waters off the beach; to checking out the fauna on the hiking trail that connects Saracen Bay and Lazy Beach.

Getting there: Lazy Beach can be reached via private taxi boat from Saracen Bay, via direct ferry from Sihanoukville, or a 40-minute hike through the jungle trail.

Continue to 6 of 9 below.
06 of 09

Kep Beach, Kep

Kep Beach, Kep

Vincent Jary/Getty Images

One of the last decent beaches in a former French colonial beach resort town, Kep Beach is a popular destination for locals looking for sun and sand. As a result, this stretch of beach is usually crowded only during the weekends.

A relatively underdeveloped beach with a few kiosks and seafood vendors, Kep Beach has white sand (mostly shipped from Otres Beach) and some food vendors on the road adjoining the shore. A shaded promenade runs the length of the beach, with an impressive nude woman statue at its eastern end.

Getting there: Kep Beach is a short, 30-minute drive from Kampot, easily accessible by tuk-tuk, motorcycle taxi, or bus.

Continue to 7 of 9 below.
07 of 09

Koh Toch, Koh Rong

Koh Toch, Koh Rong

Alex Robinson Photography/Getty Images

Koh Toch is Koh Rong island’s party central. As the main gateway for tourists from nearby Sihanoukville, Koh Toch is the perfect place for resorts, restaurants, and bars—making it the place for partiers after dark!

What few ATMs and medical clinics the island has, they’re all on Koh Toch: if you don’t want to stay far from either, book a stay nearby.

Move away from the beachfront, and you’ll find much more to do: hiking in the nearby jungle; snorkeling or scuba diving in the nearby waters (a scuba center on Koh Toch can take care of you in this department); or staying above-water while taking on a watersport or two (kayaking, windsurfing, and jet skiing can all be arranged).

Getting there: Koh Toch is the key entryway for tourists to Koh Rong, with speedboats taking about 40 minutes to get here from Sihanoukville.

Continue to 8 of 9 below.
08 of 09

Koh Ta Kiev, Sihanoukville

Koh Ta Kiev, Sihanoukville

Vincent Jary/Getty Images

Another deserted jungle island getaway, Koh Ta Kiev has little in the way of services and amenities. The few guesthouse accommodations on the island are basic (no Wi-Fi and electricity, for starters) and great for those who want to get away from it all.

The unspoiled beaches on Koh Ta Kiev are a great day trip destination and one of the last beaches in Southeast Asia that haven’t been wholly swarmed with tourists. Locals will happily sell you their fresh catch of crab and even cook it for you—if a rustic lunch on the beach and a nap on a palm-shaded hammock within view of the sea sounds like heaven for you, then Koh Ta Kiev will undoubtedly deliver.

Getting there: Koh Ta Kiev is some 5 miles south of Otres Beach in Sihanoukville; long-tail boats from Otres Beach can take you to Koh Ta Kiev in under an hour.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Lonely Beach, Koh Rong

Lonely Beach, Koh Rong

Andrea Pistolesi/Getty Images

The northern tip of Koh Rong is a long way off from civilization, with just one resort and little by way of development (or amenities and activities). The key attraction here is the unspoiled atmosphere: you’ll relax on your own little parcel of beach, far from other beachgoers. Time your visit right, and you may be the only person on the beach—perfectly befitting the name.

Take a dip in the sea at night to see the bioluminescent plankton light up in your wake.

Getting there: The Lonely Beach Resort offers a private boat from Sihanoukville that arrives and departs daily. Book a trip through the resort.