When in Cambodia, make sure to visit Bamboo Island off the shores of Sihanoukville on the southern part of the country. Known locally as Ko Russei, Bamboo Island is one of the most picturesque destinations in Cambodia. It is so scenic and inviting that it makes the leading beaches of Sihanoukville much less attractive.
Sihanoukville is the primary beach destination in Cambodia. Since it is often frequented by foreign tourists as well as local tourists on weekends, residents are friendlier, more accommodating and more laid back than people in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. With only 250,000 in total population, Sihanoukville is a peninsula that is made up of small islands and attractive beaches. It was founded as a port city in 1964 and immediately gained a steady rise in popularity until the Khmer Rouge Army took control of the country. From 1975 to 1979, strongman Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge practically stripped Cambodia of all its resources and industries, including the fast growing economy and tourism in Sihanoukville. A staggering number of Cambodians were executed and the country went to a standstill. In 1979, the Viet Cong liberated Cambodia but it has still taken more than 20 years for Sihanoukville and the rest of the country to rebuild. Known in Khmer as Kampong Som, Sihanoukville today is well-known for its white-sand beaches, casinos, world-class bars, restaurants, bars, and exciting nightlife.
About Bamboo Island
One of the most popular beaches in Sihanoukville is Serendipity Beach, which is part of Ochheuteal Beach, and it is from here that boats take passengers to Bamboo Island. Docked in front of Coaster’s Restaurant by the sandy beach, the boats leave every morning at 10:00 AM. Upon reaching the island, the first things that a guest would notice are the things that the island does not have. There are no pesky vendors persistently trying to sell all kinds of fruits and beachwear, no honking motodops, no chugging tuk-tuks, and no overcrowding of vacationers. There is a wonderful feeling of peace and tranquility, as though a tourist has the entire island for himself or herself. The island has two nameless beaches with resorts that are made up mostly of simple bungalow bamboo huts. The beaches are wide and the waters are shallow, which makes them perfect for snorkeling. It gets deeper quickly, though, so first-time visitors should be careful. There are two nearby islands, but they are not as pretty as Bamboo Island.
The experience of just reclining and beach bumming under the bamboo huts along the pristine island beaches is to die for. Bamboo huts cost US$7 to US$8 for an overnight stay, but most visitors don’t stay for the night since accommodations are clearly not the best. Typically, the paradise tour to Bamboo Island is short-lived as visitors opt to make that 45-minute boat journey back to Sihanoukville at 4:30 PM. The boat ride is US$6, but since this is Cambodia, it is advised that passengers should first make it clear with the boatman exactly how much they would need to pay. The fare could shoot up for no apparent reason. But even if the boatmen do jack up the price, Bamboo Island is definitely worth it.