Koh Rong has started to get something of a reputation of being all about the younger backpackers, hedonistically heading to their own backpackers haven, where they are keen to get off their heads to the detriment of anyone else who might fancy a night’s sleep. Looking through a selection of online reviews and forums, the terms ‘Koh Wrong’ and ‘So Wrong’ have been thrown around.
The general perception you might find from the net about Koh Rong is a bombardment of buckets, bongs and banging music that goes on til the sun comes up. That it’s only for teenagers and twenty somethings who mostly hang out with other people exactly like them, get exceedingly high and listen to dubstep whilst ignoring anything about the local culture, and then tell everyone about how awesome Cambodia is. It does seem to be taking over the spot that Vang Vieng used to occupy on the travel trail, and also a place that backpackers find ‘work’ for a couple of months, it doesn’t look that much like hard work of course.
So is that all there is to Koh Rong? Well that scene is there if that’s what you want, but that’s not all there is to the island. And the last time I was there it wasn’t very full on at all – there weren’t that many people at the bars to be honest and most people were just sitting around chatting, but this was in low season though.
But no, that’s not all there is to do on Koh Rong. Firstly, everything referred to in the above description is only in Koh Touch village, which is a tiny part of the island as a whole. If you choose to stay anywhere else at all then you will be far enough away from it to render Koh Touch as invisible. And the island is a massive place, approximately as large as Hong Kong Island. Other experiences on Koh Rong are:
Stay at an isolated resort. Stay at Romdoul Bungalows, Broken Heart Guest House or Pura Vita and its entirely different experience of the sound of waves and trees swaying. The crickets can be a bit noisy though.
Overnight boat trip. Coco’s and the dive center sometimes have a two day boat trip that circumnavigates the island. This includes a barbeque evening meal on the beach and breakfast the next day. A group of around 20 people leave on the boat and the accommodation is in basic tents right on an isolated beach. It was a lot of fun but you need to prepare to rough it and not expect any luxury, its camping in the wild.
Scuba Diving. Koh Rong dive center has a daily trip to two dive sites every day, with the choice of dive sites being determined by weather conditions. Sometimes there is a liveaboard trip to a more distant dive site these are irregular and only in the high season.
The beach party is there if you want it, but you can find your own way on Koh Rong. The rep it has is maybe a bit unfair, since its only one small town on a largely unspoilt island that is like that at all