Koh Rong: Get There Quick Before . . .

Friday, May 11, 2012


Unspoiled, turquoise-green, powder-white beaches, inexpensive . . . You’ve heard these adjectives before when describing beaches in Southeast Asia, right? However, they’re usually followed up with such words as: full-moon party, MDMA, overcrowded, touristy. Thus is the result of decades-worth of word-of-mouth recommendations for islands such as Koh Phangan, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui, and others, which has resulted in islands that are less The Beach and more Jersey Shore.

The other words you often hear, usually in the context of a post by disillusioned travel bloggers, is: “[Blank Island] is just like [Insert Thai Island Here] 20 years ago before the tourists arrived.” Which doesn’t necessarily mean the statement isn’t true, but is usually a death knell marking the beginning of the end of what once made that particular island or beach so great.

Koh Rang, Cambodia, seems to have officially taken the lead in the race for the distinction of being the best island people haven’t heard of in the Gulf of Thailand. Beside being named as one of the 45 places to go in 2012 by the New York Times (complete with a 12-photo spread), it was also recently written-up by BBC Travel, an article that notes that the real beauty of the island is the fact that though “there are some activities on the island, such as snorkelling, scuba diving and a somewhat bushwhacking trek through its dense jungles and mangroves, there is not much else to do.” In fact, “there are few undeveloped island destinations better suited to unplug and unwind.”

At least for now. As they note, Kith Meng, one of Cambodia’s richest businessmen, obtained a 99-year lease to the whole entire island back in 2006, which so far has resulted in limited development, but could one day yield to his grand plans of mega-resorts, casinos and golf courses.

And on that note, one more phrase you may heard bantered around before: Get there quick before it’s too late.

[Koh Rong by Alex Schwab/Flickr]

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