Only approximately 20 Km. from the coast of Sihanoukville town, there are few islands still reasonably “hidden away” and quiet…but not for long.
Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem are still considered little paradises for backpackers looking for the ultimate island experience. However even these islands have now been reached by powerful foreign investors that have already bought their stake of land and started to build huge development projects.
It is happening mainly on Koh Rong, the largest of the two islands. The main village built on the beach is already crowded with backpackers’ lodges, bars and restaurants. Unfortunately there isn’t a good sewage system so everything flows right on the beach and into the sea, accompanied by a very unpleasant smell.
New lodges and hotels are being built up the mountains right behind the beach. The whole place looks like a building site, but young backpackers are not put off by this. They find their little heaven here where they can get a little helping job in a restaurant, bar or guesthouse in exchange of a bed, a bit of food and lots of alcohol.
We visited Long Beach, one of the beaches along the island. It is a very long white sand beach. Beautiful even though it is overcrowded with mean sand flies. However, there were already bulldozers on the spot, cutting trees and preparing the land for building works.
A friend of us went there few weeks later and told us a massive pier had already been built. I was so glad to have seen that place before it was spoiled.
I was told that most of the land on the island has already been bought by Russian and Chinese investors with projects for big expensive resorts. There is also already planning permission to build an airport. There will be direct flights from Phnom Phen and possibly international flights as well. It will be like Phuket but in Cambodia.
Koh Rong Samloem is a little bit different. The island is much smaller an there is still very very little on it. Few lodges and restaurants are situated on the main beach at Saracen Bay. I have not stayed on this beach.
I spent few days on Sunset Beach while I was working with The Dive Shop. They have their dive center here. This beach is very small and still almost untouched. Besides The Dive Shop, there are three more small resorts with their own restaurant and bar. Very uncrowded beach, it is perfect to get away from it all for few days. No electricity (the places run on their own generators), no phone, no internet, and very limited fresh water. Oh! Perfect place to enjoy beautiful sunsets.
Let’s see how long it will stay this way.