Hidden Paradise in Cambodia: Koh Rong Samloem

Whenever I travel I usually like to explore 5 things in general. 1) temples 2) traditions/culture 3) Mountains  4) Food 5) Beach

I went to Cambodia for a 6 days tour because I wanted to visit Siem Reap (temples), Pnom Penh (history/ culture) and Silhanoukville (beach). – I will probably write a separate entry for the whole tour.

I am doing this entry to remind myself that there are still places unknown to many and that Cambodia is not just all about “Angkor Wat” and “Pol Pot regime”. They also have really nice beach just like those in Thailand and the Philippines.

This might also be my only memory left because they are planning to commercialize the area and yes, Koh Rong Samloem is the best. (Silhanoukville is not really nice unless you just want to drink all night and Koh Rong is a little more commercialize compare to Koh Rong Samloem. – It really depends on your preference)

HOW TO GO THERE?

From Singapore, there are direct flights going to Silhanoukville but I do not recommend because it is very expensive (usually around $400-500 sgd) so instead, take a flight to Pnom Penh – nearest to Silhanoukville, then take a bus from Pnom Penh to Silhanoukville. (Approx. 4-5 hours)

From Silhanoukville, there are boats going to the island (Koh Rong Samloem). Either you take the fast boat or ferry depends on the time as well.

The Fast Boat to Koh Rong Samloem fromSihanoukVille leaves the Serendipity Beach Pier at 9am and 3pm. The trip to Saracen Bay on Koh Rong Samloem takes 40 minutes, and cost $10 each way. The fast boat ferry leaves Koh Rong Samloem Island at 8:30am and 2:30 pm for SihanoukVille.

Suggestion:

From Pnom Penh, you can book a bus going to Silhanoukville – I suggest taking Giant Ibis (safest and fastest). You can check their website, Giant Ibis.

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Serendipity Beach Pier – Silhanoukville

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WHERE TO STAY?

Lazy Beach Resort 

There are actually 2 sides of Koh Rong Samloem, one is The Lazy Beach (we stayed there and I felt like we own the whole island) from The Lazy Beach, you need to pass by a forest to reach Saracen Bay where there are few hotels/hostels.

I will be biased if I say stay in Lazy Beach. But seriously, they have really good food, your own private island beach, hammock everywhere and a priceless view of the beach and the sunset!!!!!!!

Since there is no wifi, you can really enjoy every moment. The stars at night is amazing especially when all the lights are off. (There is usually no electricity at night)

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Did I mention, Sunset? I swear, the sunset at Lazy Beach will make you feel good and make you feel a certain level of happiness that is peaceful at the same time. I wanted to go back just for the sunset.

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For reservation or inquries you can check their website:

Lazy Beach Resort

You can either book in person or call +855 (0)16 214 211 or +855 (0)17 456 536 to make your reservation.

Saracen Bay

From Lazy Beach, you have to walk around 20 mins. to reach Saracen Bay. – You’ll pass by a small forest (beware of animals – though they are harmless, it is illegal to feed them. You’ll see monkeys, reptiles, insects, etc)

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But if you want to party, meet new people, and a nicer beach then you must stay along Saracen Bay. There are few hostels there and you can even rent a tent.

This is the island’s official map:

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For those who enjoy the night life, they have a full moon party along Saracen Bay. I heard its the best. You can check their website for the complete schedule and line – up. http://www.koh-rong-samloem-island.com/full-moon-party.html

I heard from my friends that along Saracen Bay, you can check these hotels/hostels as well.

  • The Beach Island Resort
  • Secret Paradise Resort
  • Sweet dreams Samloem
  • Sol Beach Resort

The rate ranges from $30.00 SGD to $80.00 and you must book early because most of the time, all of the hotels are fully booked.

What is nice about Saracen Bay is the beach. I don’t need to say anything, let the pictures do the talking but seriously its surreal.

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They don’t have an ATM machine in the island so you should always have cash with you.

The best food is the restaurant at Lazy Beach (you can find drinks everywhere) we stayed there for a few days so literally order almost everything in the menu just because its cheaper to eat good food in Cambodia if you compare it to Singapore.

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If you have more time you can also visit the fishing villages, the waterfalls, mangroves and a lot more if you are into activities. But for me personally, I’d rather stay in an island, enjoy the sun and the feeling of being away from work.

I’ve been to Boracay, Palawan, Cebu, Bohol and a lot more beach in the Philippines, I know its probably incomparable but if you want something different, try to visit Koh Rong Samloem, I swear you will not regret it.

There is something about undevelop islands that makes you feel refreshing.

P.S If its your lucky day and you are up for an adventure you can also swim with bioluminiscent planktons. Its like a fairytale where in the glow of the planktons are the only color you’ll see at night. You can swim with them but be careful because they randomly bite.

If you have more suggestions, let me know!

 

Yogyakarta, Indonesia: (5 Days, 4 nigts)

If there is one place in Indonesia that I love so much, it would probably be Yogyakarta (“jogja”). I love temples! Its a part of history that you can’t change. It tells stories of the past and how it differs from the present. You’ll see how simple life is and how important nature is to them.

I arrived around 10 am, from airport to the city it would take you around 30 minutes. I like staying at hostels when I travel alone because I meet a lot of people and its just fun and cheaper to travel with someone.

I stayed at Sae sae hostel! For a hostel, its a 10/10. I heard they transferred to a better location but still around the area so I suggest for you to stay there when you are on a budget and you want to meet awesome people.

Not to mention they are number 1 in TripAdvisor! (The rent is around 19 sgd per night)

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There is a direct flight from Singapore to Yogyakarta but its cheaper if you would take air asia so take a bus from Singapore to KL (around $25.00 sgd) then take the flight from there ( $140-200+) depends on the season.

From the Philippines, I am not sure if there is a direct flight, but you can take a flight from Philippines to Jakarta then either take the train, bus or another flight to Yogkarta (depends on the budget).

Day 1:

You can tour around the City. Instead of taking the normal group tour. I suggest on taking the bike tour (SAESAE offers a city tour) unbelievable because you’ll be able to see  hidden temples around the area itself (w no entrance fee). –Bike tour is around 40-50 sgd 

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  • Plaosan Temple – Amazing Sunset!
  • Sambisari Temple – Formerly buried under lava
  • Candi Prambanan
  • Sewu Temple
  • Sambisari Temple
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Sambisari Temple – It was raining when I went there (it would be a lot better with Mr. Sun)

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Sewu Temple

You can also visit Prambanan Temple – (consist of 240 temples!) for sunset and watch the Ramayana Ballet.

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Prambanan Temple -Entrance fee (18 usd)

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Prambanan Temple

If you are interested to watch Ramayana Ballet – It is also in Prambanan Temple between 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm (35 usd – inclusive of dinner)

(Pictures from Google Image)

Day 2:

Woke up early to have breakfast around the area ( I will make a separate blog post on food – there are too many unique cafes and good food in Yogyakarta)

Took time to visit Kraton and Water Caste (Taman Sari) in the morning. 

If you want culture and history, this is a must! You will know the story, culture and a lot more to learn from this place. – (Takes around 3-4 hours) Met a friend  from the hostel who joined me in touring both Kraton and Taman Sari.

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In the afternoon, I suggest to just explore the food and learn how to ride the motorbike. I love Bali, I’ve been to Bali for more than 3 times already but Yogyakarta is so rich in culture, nature and a lot more but the price you’ll spend would be 1/3 of what you will spend in  Bali.

Why I suggest to just rest and enjoy the central area is because you have a choice to hike Mt. Merapi and hiking starts at 1 am. If you are not interested in hiking then you can take the jeep ride going up in the afternoon (there is a tour guide)  but you won’t be able to reach the peak which is beyond amazing.

Day 3

Hiking at Mt. Merapi is the highlight of my trip. You should try to book as early as your first day – must have at least 3 pax for the tour guide to proceed. The hike starts at 1 am and if you are fast and healthy enough, you’ll reach the top by Sunrise (around 5:30 -6:00 am) and I am not sure why it took me longer to go down we reached the bottom around 12:30 nn- 1:00 pm already.

It was really one of the best experience I have. I mean I’ve been to different mountains in the Philippines and being somewhere else is also a great experience. Too be honest, I wasn’t fit enough so I really had a hard time. In our group, we were around 10 but only 5 of us managed to reached the peak. – I was trying to challenge myself.

PS Its very cold on top. Please bring a thick jacket, gloves and wear thick socks to be able to climb comfortably. The hike was hard for me not because it was steep or dangerous but because it was raining, I was just wearing a hoodie and Its all the way up with no chill.

For more information you can check this website: http://discoveryourindonesia.com/mount-merapi/

Mt. Merapi is a very active volcano and the surrounding area are all mountains.

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If you are not yet tired and still up for adventure, you can visit Sri Gethuk Waterfall. You can ask Saesae for a bike tour to this place, I think its 1 hour by bike from the City. – Sunset is very nice and my tour guide takes nice pictures.

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You can also go cave tubing on Nature’s lazy river since its near the area, but I was so tired so end up not doing it (a must on my next visit).

At night, there is this restaurant which serves authentic Nasi Lemak and Nasi Goreng. You can ask the tour guide to pass by this place. (Locals favorite)

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I pretty much suggest to sleep early because 4th day requires you to waking up very early for a sunrise tour at Borobodur.

Day 4

The tour guide will pick you up around 3:30 in the morning. You will have to walk and climb stairs to reach the top. Borobodur is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Borobudur Temple Compounds is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world, and was built in the 8th and 9th centuries AD during the reign of the Syailendra Dynasty. The monument is located in the Kedu Valley, in the southern part of Central Java, at the centre of the island of Java, Indonesia.

I like chasing temples and I’ve been to Angkor Wat – probably one of the biggest temple in the World but I found peace in Borobodur it was so overwhelming that it made me want to go back immediately. I felt like I can touch the clouds and everything about the place is just pure peace and love.

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The tour ends early so you still have more time to explore yogyakarta. If you have enough budget and time, you can visit the beach or Jomblang Cave ( depends on your preference)

Yogyakarta has beach and nice cliff that is quite similar to Bali. You can check this site for reference. https://indonesia.tripcanvas.co/jogja/things-to-do-in-yogyakarta/

I did not have time to go because I was too tired so I end up spending time with newly found friends at the hostel enjoying beer and good music.

Day 5

I actually don’t have enough time left so I went to visit the Sand dunes probably to experience it and take pictures but something went wrong with my camera so I do not have pictures of the place.

You can still check it out if you have time.

Going back to the airport is just too sad. I swear if there is one place in Indonesia that I’ll be happy to go back its definitely, Yogyakarta.

For reference and things to do you can also visit these websites: