The Southeast Asian country of Cambodia is quickly becoming one of the most sought after places on earth for people to want to visit. This is surprising to hear for many, because they have stereotypical ideas of things that they saw 40 years ago, and still think that this is the way that Cambodia is today. That is as far from the truth as it gets.
This tropical land is a beautiful country that has some of the most amazing beaches, water, animals, and activities that a person can find. Because of this, the land was opened to tourism about a decade ago, and has found that millions of people from across the globe are dying to get to Cambodia to spend their vacation.
One area that is really drawing the visitors in is the province of Sihanoukville. This area has a huge wild life preserve to it, and 23 incredible islands exist within its borders. Many of these islands were completely undeveloped for centuries, but are taking on tourists now and providing a vacation experience that is second to none.
The islands are all beautiful, but none more so than Koh Russei. The domestication of the island has made it one of the most sought after destinations and a lot of fun for the whole family or to go to on your own.
A Little About Koh Russei
Koh Russei, otherwise known as “Bamboo Island,” is about three miles off of the coast of Cambodia. It is located in the Gulf of Thailand and for many years was home to the largest naval base in Cambodia. While the navy still has a presence here, the island was opened to development about a decade ago, and has had small developments built on it that have drawn people to visit from all over the world. There is also a big project that is underway to add a hotel and other resorts to increase the number of people who can visit Koh Russei.
The island is crescent shaped and has some of the most incredible vegetation that one can find. There are several open beach areas that make for a fun day lying and playing in the sun, and the tropical forest on the interior of the island makes for an adventure you have to see to believe.
The island is less than half of a square mile in area, with a length of about 1 mile and a width ranging from a little less than a mile to a little more than one. The coastline is 3.7 miles and has some of the most amazing beach areas you will ever see.
The temperature on the island is always on the warm side. This is a tropical area which means that the temperature is virtually always on the hot side. Because the island is out on the gulf the temperature is cooler than what you would find on the mainland. The ocean breeze really is a breath of fresh air and helps to keep the island a bit cooler.
The only real challenge is during the rainy season. From May through July it can be quite rainy there, where Cambodia can get as much as 10 inches of rain each month. This island can get a lot of rain as well. There is not flooding on the island, but you can be sure that there will be a lot of rain during this time. It will make for more buoyant waves and will require rain gear. Plus, the days out at the beach will be spent a lot more under an umbrella than under the sunny skies.
What to Do on Koh Russei
There are many great things to do on Koh Russei Island. It starts with the incredible beach areas. You will find some of the most pristine beach areas on the planet here, because there has not been tourism in the country. That means there hasn’t be hundreds of thousands of people that have come here, so the beaches are clean and you can find a lot of places to be alone and have some solitude.
The waters around Koh Russei are fantastic and give you a whole lot of places to swim, snorkel and scuba dive. For much of the area directly around the island the waters are quite shallows, and so you can find a lot of different shells along the beach area and in those shallow waters. You will find that the shallow waters can stretch for quite a distance from the shore, meaning you can literally walk for several hundred meters out into the water and find that it never gets above your waist. It is really amazing, and allows you and your children to have a great time out there.
If you want to see some amazing sea life, the snorkeling or scuba diving will give you the opportunity to enjoy these creatures below the waters. You will see shell fish, sea horses, sea turtles, coral and so much more. it is a truly astounding site you will think about for years to come.
You are welcome to rent the equipment and go out on your own, or you can join a tour that will show you the most amazing parts of the area. If you do not know how to snorkel or scuba dive, there are classes there where you can learn. They are quite inexpensive and are taught by professional divers who have years of experience diving and teaching the craft.
You can also join a tour and see some of the other islands in the region or head for the mainland. These tours will take you to other islands within the region, especially to those that have no manmade objects on them so you can see wilderness for real. On these tours you will spend the day on the island and be fed lunch.
There are tours that will take you back to the mainland so that you can spend the day shopping or taking in the sites in Sihanoukville. This is a beautiful area, and you will find a whole lot to do. The shops offer some of the most amazing hand-crafted items you will find at a price you will simply not believe, and the authentic Khmer food is something that will make your mouth water. It is spectacular.
There are also tours that will simply take you out for the day and show you the sites that are in the waters of the province. You will get up close looks at the islands without actually going to them, and you will get to see spectacular wildlife. Many get to see schools of dolphin swimming within a few feet of the boats. It is breath-taking.
On the island there is a lot to do as well. The rain forest is quite dense, but there are walking trails that you can take that will allow you to venture into the forest to see the beautiful plants, insects, and animals that are indigenous to the island and Cambodia in general. There are more endangered and threatened species of plants and animals that are protected within this preserve in Cambodia than there are in any other place on earth. This means that you will see plants and animals you will not find anywhere else on earth.
There are tours that you can join that will show you the most beautiful and unusual parts of the area. These usually take about three hours and you are walking the entire way. You can also venture out on your own, either on foot or you can rent a bicycle.
Whichever option you take, make sure you wear plenty of bug repellant. This is a tropical area after all, and so you will find many mosquitoes and other insects that will think you make a tasty snack. You can buy insect repellant on the island or you can bring your own, but you will need it for sure.
Accommodations on Koh Russei
There is a big hotel and resort going up on the island so, in the meantime, the accommodations are quite primitive and simple, which is what many people prefer. Just outside of the gate of the naval base is a set of guesthouses. These are available to tourists to rent, and many opt to rent out the whole section and host their wedding here. There are just enough guesthouses to hold a small wedding party of about 30.
Elsewhere on the island you will find bungalows that can be rented for the night or for extended periods. These all come with a private bathroom, bed, small work area, and a balcony. Be aware that the rhesus monkeys that live on the island find your balcony to be the perfect perch to view the ocean as well, so don’t just open your door to go out unless you are sure that there are none of these primates present.
Keep in mind that as the development process on the island continues, there will be a point where people are not allowed to stay on the island during the bigger construction stages. Before considering heading for Koh Russei, make sure that you are even able to do so before making your travel plans.
Cambodia is rapidly becoming a hotbed for tourist activity and Koh Russei is one of those places that people love to go to. Make sure that you include the island on your destination. You will be glad you did.
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