I fell madly in love with Cambodia when I was 19 and was very excited to see it again. The people are some of the friendliest I have met in the world and it was very easy to feel like you were getting off the typical backpacker route. I spent around 8 weeks total in Cambodia the first time around, going from the mystical Angkor Wat, the sleepy little river town Kampot, the crazy, busy Phnom Penh, and many places in between. This time around, I did not find it as easy to get off the ‘pancake trail’, but I did find paradise. Long Beach is located on Koh Rong island, which is a very popular island for backpackers. Long Beach isn’t an unknown destination in itself. Many hike to get there or take a boat ride for the day. Long Beach has a row of rustic bungalows that aren’t advertised and are maintained by a couple of westerners who seem intent on never leaving. To get there, you can trek through the jungle or take a boat. The trek is fabulous though, and there are little flip-flops and signs posted on trees so you don’t get defeated and give up. When I finally reached the end I felt like Leonardo DiCaprio seeing the beach for the first time. It’s absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful. I stayed there for 3 nights, and it was a truly amazing experience. During the day, you can lounge on the white sand beach and go swimming in the ocean. The ocean is so incredibly blue it feels like you are swimming in a pool. I also made a friend, who ended up eating most of my food for the duration of my stay. The most incredible thing about Long Beach isn’t in the day time, when tourists and other backpackers can sometimes crowd the beach. It’s the night-time, when you are left with the other people staying in the bungalows, no electricity, and phosphorescent plankton. Swimming with the plankton was like nothing I have experienced in my life. As there is no electricity on this part of the island, it is pitch-black come 8pm. Swimming with the plankton was like having little stars erupt at the touch of your fingertips. It was magical.
Boats run every evening to get back to the main part of Koh Rong. Word to the wise- think about the weather carefully before you get on a small little boat in a tropical storm, or you will be soaked and afraid for your life. Other, then that, go to Long Beach! It is honestly one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. Truly paradise.