Day Trip from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong | Trip Report

By 6:25 PM , ,

I had been trying for the past 10 minutes to ignore the rocking of the boat and the queasy feeling that was moving up my body, to close my eyes and will myself to go to sleep. But this strategy was evidently not working and I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I got up and pushed my through the crowded boat and ran to the side of the boat, from where I proceeded to throw up the pancakes I had for breakfast in the hostel that morning and the anti-nausea pill that I had only remembered to take while I was stepping on the boat (instead of the 30 mins before departure as advised).

As I sat on the side of the boat, being drenched by the water hitting the side of the boat and pretending not to notice the looks I was getting (although most were sympathetic) I had to question why I had insisted on doing a day trip from Sihanokville to Koh Rong, the Cambodian Island which sat of the coast in the Gulf of Thailand. Sure it had looked beautiful, but Sihanokville had proved to be prettier than I was expecting. And did I really need to try and find where the Survivor contestants had set up camp during the seasons shot on the island. As my cousin sat sympathetically by me, I mulled on these thoughts for the next 30 minutes until we finally slowed down and reached the island. As much I would like to say that I was met with a beautiful pristine scene that made me forget about my sea sickness, I have to tell the truth. The first thing we saw was a beach strip lined with bars, restaurants and tourists. This was not like scenes from Survivor I had seen.

I rushed off the boat and basked in the stillness of being on land as the other boat goers came over to check how I was (sometimes humans step up prove we are lovely creatures). After a few moments of rest my keenness to explore the island and find the parts of Koh Rong I had in my mind took over. We quickly refuelled at one of the many restaurants (I was starving after throwing up everything I had eaten!) and then began walking up one side of the beach until we reached what seemed like a dead end. We began walking up the other end when we spotted two tourists walk through the bush at the edge of the beach and up a hill. My cousin and I looked at each and decided the most logical thing to do was to follow them! They must be heading to the untouched beaches and jungle that was on Survivor. We followed them up a very steep and rocky hill (my beach outfit was not built for this unexpected hike) until we reached a fork in our path and had completely lost track of the two tourists we were following. One path looked more taken so we went with that one until we found ourselves ascending up a narrow step of stairs. Despite the heat and the steepness of the steps we pushed through and found ourselves in a restaurant! This wasn’t exactly the untouched beach (well as untouched as it can be after a reality show has been filmed on it) we were hoping to stumble onto. We exited the restaurant, this time climbing down stairs with hopes that the other end would open up to the jungle. Except it didn’t, in fact we were pretty much where started and has just walked in a very steep circle! Still hopeful we continued up the beach until the path narrowed and we surrounded by a bit more jungle- looking good! As we were walking we came across a sign for a zoo with a very cheap entry price so we followed the signs and ended up at a house with different small enclosures of birds and lizards. “Hello?”, we called out. No appeared to be manning the “zoo”. As we began to walk around we heard someone call out “Hello?’ back and so we back tracked. “Hello?” we called out again when we couldn’t see anyone. “Hello” the voice called back, and it was close enough for us to identify that it wasn’t coming from the owner of the ‘zoo’ but rather a large black bird! We laughed and walked towards the bird and he garbled out something that we assume was in Cambodian. Feeling a little like trespassers we left and continued our search for the Survivor beach and jungle. We stopped when we reach a community of shack style houses of the locals, as the only way to continue was to walk through their homes but as we begun to turn back they pointed at us and gestured to walk through. I looked at my cousin and suggested to her that they might be allowing us to go through was because it might lead us to the non-touristy part of the island. So we quickly walked through the homes and realised we literally walking inside them as we passed sleeping children, men playing games and families eating lunch. We rushed through, smiling back at the locals who seemed amused by us until finally we were out and then we were immediately hit by total disappointment. In front of us wasn’t jungle full of exotic animals or a beautiful stretch of beach but a massive construction site!

We walked back, and I began to feel guilty that I had dragged my non Survivor watching cousin around the island in the heat. I called quits on my search and we went for a swim. Despite it being lined with restaurants, the beach is still lovely and water was absolutely beautiful and the right amount of warm. As we treaded in the water we joked about the talking bird and accidentally being invited into local homes. Despite the sea sickness inducing journey to get to Koh Rong and not finding the Survivor beach and jungle it was still a fun day with memorable moments. As my cousin headed back to the sand , I begun to float in the water and let my mind wander The beaches and jungle on Survivor looked so big, how did we have such difficulty finding it! Was the show exaggerating how deserted they were, in reality were they only 100m from strips of restaurants and bars? Was I giving up so close to finding it? I came to the island with a goal and it was killing me I hadn’t achieved it so I ran up to my cousin and explained that she was free to relax but I couldn’t give up and just wanted to try the dead end of the beach again. She quickly gathered her belongings and said she would come too. We reached what we thought was the dead end before and examined it a little closely, it appeared to be a natural wall/hill with a guest house sitting on top but there seemed to be a little path beyond that. With nothing to lose we climbed up a kept walking, reaching a thin jungle which we walked through and then past the rooms for guests until we were weaving through thicker greenery. This was getting exciting! We walked through and ended up at a smaller beach with a pier that went out into the ocean- I recognised it from Google images of Koh Rong.

We snapped a few cliché pics and kept going, I was buzzing with excitement! We walked through more jungle until we were finally rewarded with a big stretch of beach that backed in thick jungle and was untouched by accommodation, restaurants or bars. Excitedly we walked along the water, joined by a stray dog, taking in how beautiful it was, and for me taking in that I had possibly found Survivor beach. We passed a shabby looking hut and a few clearings in the jungle and I wandered it was remains of the Survivor camps. The beach stretched for about a kilometre and we walked the very end. It was crazy how pristine and isolated it seemed, especially given how close it was to the tourist stip. Just look at the pictures and you can see how beautiful it is, definitely one of those places that makes you marvel in how incredible nature is.

Remants from Survivor?

It may have not been the beach from Survivor but I’m going to believe that it was. And despite the rocky journey, I’m glad we went to Koh Rong that day because my cousin and I will never forget the adventure we had looking for it. If you are going to Cambodia, I would 100% recommend making the trip even if you aren’t a Survivor fan because anyone can enjoy and bask in the beauty of an untouched beach surrounded by jungle. I would also recommend staying at least a night (which we didn’t) so you can have enough time to explore the island, enjoy the water sports on offer and relax.

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