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How To Get From Sihanoukville to Koh Rong by Ferry — ALONG DUSTY ROADS

How To Get to Sihanoukville 

For those of you still planning your itinerary, Koh Rong is a popular next stop after Phnom Penh, Kampot, and Siem Reap. And, wherever you’re coming from in Cambodia, all roads lead to Sihanoukville. Thankfully, the city named after a King is very accessible by road, rail, and air.

Shuttle Bus

Typical bus journey times and prices are outlined below:

Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville | 5 to 6 hours (228 kms) | $9 per person
Kampot – Sihanoukville | 2.5 – 3.5 hours (100 kms) | $7 per person 
Siem Reap – Sihanoukville | 12 hours (530 kms) | $15-25 per person 
Battambang – Sihanoukville | 12 – 14 hours (500 kms) | $18-25 per person 

For buses in Cambodia, we recommend you view companies, schedules, and book tickets online in advance on BookMeBus or Camboticket. The route to Sihanoukville is a popular, well-trodden one for travellers, so booking at least a day in advance is necessary to ensure you get an early departure which will allow you to catch a ferry in the late morning or afternoon.

Due to the journey times and delays involved with travelling by bus to Sihanoukville from Siem Reap and Battambang clashing with the ferry timetables, you may have to spend the night in the city before taking the first ferry the following morning. If that’s the case, then the Onederz Hostel (hostelworld | booking.com) has excellent recent reviews and is only five minutes walk from the ferry terminal. 

The Aristocrat Residence is one of few hotels in the city without horrendous ratings and reviews and is also only a few minutes from the Sihanoukville ferry terminal, so would be fine for the night for those of you who prefer hotels.

Private Taxi

To shave a few hours off the journey times, and for extra comfort and convenience, there are various companies offering private taxi services from Phnom Penh, Kampot, and even Siem Reap. You can find prices and make a booking online here.

Flight to Sihanoukville from Siem Reap

We prefer to travel overland as much as possible, but for those of you who are in Cambodia for two weeks, a flight from Siem Reap is a viable option too. Several local airlines run the daily direct flight route to Sihanouk International Airport, with one-way prices starting at around $100. Flight time is around 50 minutes. 

Alternatively, if you’re travelling in south-east Asia, you may have the option to fly direct to Sihanoukville as it operates several routes to/from Thailand, China, and Vietnam. 

If you do fly from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, note that Sihanouk International Airport (Google Maps) is 25 kms from the ferry terminal and so it’s best to take a official taxi ($20) or a tuk-tuk ($10) direct between the two once you arrive. 

Train

This option only opened up in 2016, but may be a nice experience in and of itself (we haven’t done it however so can’t personally recommend one way or the other).

The train from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville has a limited schedule, with one train on Fridays (15.00 departure) and Saturday (07.00) and two on Sundays (07.00 + 16.00 departures). Travel time is 7.5 – 8.5 hours, with tickets costing only $7.

You can find schedules and book tickets on the Royal Railway Cambodia website.

Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Ferry Companies, Schedules + Routes

When we visited Cambodia earlier this year, there were five main ferry ompanies running the route from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong, and vice-versa, with ‘fast boats’ or ‘high speed ferries’. The fleet consists of medium-sized ferries to smaller speedboats with capacity for around 50 passengers.

Though you’ll always find people who moan about everything when they travel, we can tell you that we’ve travelled a lot in Latin America and taken death-defying boat rides between countries and from mainland to island; the Koh Rong ferry and the speedboats are modern and bloody brilliant in comparison to some of those, offering up a smooth, comfortable ride.

The Sihanoukville to Koh Rong ferry companies and their daily ferry schedules* are:

  • GTVC |  8 am, 11 am, 2 pm, 4 pm – travel time of 45 minutes

  • Buva Sea | 8 am, 9 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 2pm, 3 pm, 5 pm

  • Speed Ferry Cambodia | 7.30 am, 9 am, 11.30 am, 1.30 pm, 4 pm

  • Island Speed Ferry | 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm

  • Romny Tour Express | 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm.

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All of the above will take you from Sihanoukville to the Koh Rong Community Pier on Koh Toch Beach – the most popular area of Koh Rong but not necessarily the best – in an advertised time of 45 minutes to 1 hour. Actual travel time does however vary depending on your final stop, weather conditions, and the influence of the inevitable Cambodian transport delays (much more on those later!).

Tickets cost $12 one-way (adult), or $22 for a return ticket for the Sihanoukville – Koh Rong (Koh Touch) route – we explain a little further down in this post about a common mistake people make with the return tickets and final stop.

All of the above Koh Rong ferries leave from Serendipity Pier in Sihanoukville port (Google Maps). This long, narrow wooden pier is a 10-15 minute walk (or a 7.5 minute scramble in our case…) from several of the bus company office / terminals on Ochheuteal beach in the city. When your bus arrives in Sihanoukville, you can choose to walk along the beach or on the street – just note that there’s loads of construction going on in the city and a bunch of its streets are dug up.

If in doubt when you arrive, just ask around or take a tuk-tuk for $2-3.

There are a handful of hotels or resorts on smaller bays which run their own boat service from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong via the misnomer ‘Royal Pier’ or elsewhere in Sihanoukville, which charge for the privilege (for example, Palm Beach Bungalows on Palm Beach charges guests $27 for a return ticket!). Unless they get in touch and tell you otherwise though, you’re going to be taking one of the cheaper, better public ferries mentioned above from Serendipity Pier! 

Lastly, the Koh Rong supply boat (which brings food, drinks, fuel etc to the islands) leaves from Pier 52 (Google Maps), and it is possible to get this for $5 – $7 (depending on what the guys asks that day)  – it takes 2+ hours though, the Pier isn’t set up for tourists, there’s not set timetable, and the pier is a tuk-tuk ride from the centre of Sihanoukville. 

*The above times are accurate as of February 2020 as a guideline – see current Koh Rong ferry schedules and departures for your dates BookMeBus and CamboTicket and let us know of any major changes so we can update! 

Not Staying At Koh Toch Beach? 

Don’t panic!

Many of you may not actually be staying at Koh Toch beach on Koh Rong. Instead, you might have booked a hostel or resort on Long Set Beach, Sok San Beach, Nature Beach, or Coconut Beach – the good news is that you can easily get there by ferry, but you just need to be more specific about which ferry you book and take from the pier in Sihanoukville!

Here’s what you need to know:

Long Set Beach | Speedy Ferry Cambodia, GTVC, Buva Sea, and Island Speedy Ferry have daily departures from Sihanoukville to Long Set Beach, which neighbours Koh Touch. Return tickets cost $22 – 25 and the journey time is about 1 hour.

Sok San Beach | On the southwest of Koh Rong, both the Island Speed Ferry (9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm) and GTVC run a limited daily service of direct routes from Serendipity Pier. One-way tickets are $15, return tickets cost $27. Travel time is 60 – 90 minutes.

Coconut Beach | Both Buva Sea and Speed Ferry Cambodia offer daily departures to the white sands of Coconut Beach, with return tickets cost $25-27 per person.

Koh Rong Samoem | If you are staying at the smaller sister island, which includes M’Pai Bay and Saracen Bay, please read this post for specific info on transport from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem.

For all of the above routes, you can schedules and buy tickets on CamboTicket, BookMeBus, or the specific ferry company websites. Our main advice if staying at either of these beaches, or one of several other smaller ones on Koh Rong, is to contact your hostel or hotel in advance so they can advise you of the best ferry company to go with and the most recent timetables.

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Alternatively, if you are planning on staying across several beaches on Koh Rong, it is possible to take shuttle boats from Koh Toch to either of the above beaches (and to walk between some too).

How To Book Your Koh Rong Ferry Tickets 

You have three options:

1 ) Buy your tickets in person at Serendipity ferry terminal, where most of the companies have official vendors at the pier entrance. Based on our experiences however, it’s highly recommended to book your ferry ticket in advance of your journey, especially if you have already reserved your accommodation on Koh Rong, to ensure you can get a seat on the right boat.

2) Purchase a ticket in advance via the specific ferry company website. However, this makes it difficult to view all services and schedules for your trip, and there are often payment issues online.

3) Buy your ferry ticket online from either BookMeBus or CamboTicket, two Cambodian transport platforms which show all Koh Rong ferry schedules from the above ferry companies and allow you to compare, book, and pay online. You then receive your ferry ticket over e-mail. We used BookMeBus to book our bus and ferry tickets and can happily recommend them, but CamboTicket is a good option too. 

The Three Mistakes To Avoid With The Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Ferry

Ok, that’s all the dull necessary information about ferries, timetables, and tickets – and hopefully you’re pretty clear on what you need to do to get from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong.

However, it’s now time for the really useful information which we wish we had known before we took the Koh Rong ferries ourselves – and which proved to be quite common dilemmas for other travellers we met. Hopefully you can learn from our mistakes and theirs to ensure a smoother journey toward the paradise of the Koh Rong islands! 

Not Factoring in Transport Delays + Boarding Chaos

As all transport companies in Cambodia advertise an unrealistic journeytime, whether it’s on the water or the tarmac. However, when we booked our morning ‘VIP shuttle bus’ from Phnom Penh’s , we didn’t know this and put faith in its 4 hour journey time.

However, after an unscheduled lunch stop in Kampot, horrendous traffic, and lots of pick-ups for new passengers along the way (even though it was meant to be non-stop), it took just under six hours and we arrived at the bus station office at 2.05 pm.

Our ferry tickets were for a 2 pm departure, and we were meant to be at the pier 30 minutes earlier for boarding!

We were sweaty and pissed off, but decided to walk along the beach towards the pier anyway…and then Emily spotted various passengers disembarking and queues of others waiting to board. We legged it in the 33 degree heat as quick as we could. The boat boarding ‘organisation’ on the pier was cramped and chaotic – this seems to be a common experience during peak season (December – April) – but we had at least given ourselves a chance.

In the end, we made our 2 pm ferry, which departed at 2.55 pm.

There is no WAY we should have made that boat but, as we discuss further in our 23 Things to Know Before You Visit Cambodia post, lengthy transport delays were such a common theme in our first week in Cambodia that it became a bit ridiculous (for example, our boat back to Sihankouville from Koh Rong Samloem was an hour and a half late too).

So, dear traveller, factoring these delays into your planning as an inevitability on your bus to Sihanoukville and your ferry to Koh Rong is smart.

Expect at least one delay along the way, plan for two.

Not Knowing Your Stop in advance for Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem

The routes and journey times shared above and on booking websites are all best case scenarios, and you may end up (like we did) on a ferry which actually stops at several places on Koh Rong before going onward to Koh Rong Samloem. This resulted in various travellers almost getting off at the wrong stop before realising, missing their stop, or having a panic because they didn’t know or remember which beach their accommodation was on.

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We later took a day trip between the islands, involving another boat delay of an hour, and group of three people got on who had booked a hotel on a private beach which required a specific boat shuttle from Koh Rong Samloem, but they had no idea about that until we told them.

So, when booking your tickets, just make sure you know in advance which island and which beach you’re supposed to get off at for your accommodation! If unsure, the best way to do this is to contact your hostel or hotel in advance.

Also, before boarding the ferry in Sihanoukville, make triple sure that the boat you’re going on does actually stop at the specific beach you’re going to (you may receive a few different answers until there’s a definitive one).

If you have a Cambodian SIM card with data (be sure to check out short guide on how to get your SIM card at Phnom Penh Airport), you can avoid this issue but note that the receiption can be really patchy on the water. The best solution is to download a Google Map in advance, put a star in your map for your hostel or beach, and let the little blue dot for the GPS let you know when you’re at the right pier. We always travel with an offline map of the country we’re in anyway, and we’ve put together this short guide on how to download a Google map offline.

Not Booking Tickets in Advance or Understanding Return Tickets

Sihanoukville to Koh Rong is a very popular route and the boats do frequently sell out.

Therefore, even with the potential for delays between your bus arriving and the ferry departing, it really is best to book your tickets in advance – just factor in enough time for mishaps, give yourself a buffer window between bus arrival and boat departures, and don’t count on making the last boat of the day.

When booking your tickets, you’ll note that all of the Koh Rong ferry companies offer an open return ticket for $22 (a little more for some routes). It works out a few dollars cheaper to buy this rather than the one way ticket (usually $12), but this ticket only allows you to return on a service operated by the same company you travelled with from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong.

So, if you go out with Speed Ferry Cambodia, you’ll have to go back with them too.

For return trips, the ferry company will pick you up at the same pier at which you were dropped off. However, if you want to do different stays on different islands that having a return ticket is NOT going to be a good idea if you’re no longer staying at the beach you arrived on and have moved onto another island!

To activate your return ticket, it’s necessary to organise and reserve your seat on the specific departure the day before. Most hostels and hotels will be able to do this on your behalf, but telling them earlier in the day is best to give you a better chance of securing a spot.

If your accommodation doesn’t provide this service, then there are ferry representatives on the islands.

Travel Tip | When you come back from Koh Rong, you will be inundated with offers for taxis or shuttles buses at the pier. As mentioned, we don’t recommend sticking around in Sihanoukville at present, but there are a bunch of bus companies a short walk from the pier that you can book online at BookMeBus who will bring you onward to Kampot or Phnom Penh. 

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