Asia

Cambodia beach resorts: Combining ancient culture with idyllic coastlines

Whether you’re wrapping up a trip around this magical country or just looking for a seaside holiday, the country's tropical coastline is the ideal place to unwind and disconnect.

Sure, the friendly Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia is best known for jaw-dropping Angkor Wat. But did you know that a few hours from the temples are beach resorts on pristine white sands and secluded islands that can rival centuries-old sights?

From these Cambodia beach resorts, feast on fresh seafood like famous Kep crab, or lounge beside infinity pools that stretch onto unspoilt sands. You can explore jungle waterfalls and salt-water mangroves, or simply swing on a hammock beneath the shade of a palm tree. From boutique hotels near the vibrant heart of Sihanoukville to private islands reached only by boat, the best beaches in Cambodia are well within your grasp.

One of the best Cambodian beach resorts for boutique bliss

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On Otres 2, one of the most well-known Cambodia beaches, White Boutique is a tranquil oasis near the vibrant backpacker hub of Sihanoukville. Here, you can sit under the billowing white shades of a canopied daybed with a view onto the pristine white sands of the hotel’s palm-tree-lined private beach.

Cool off with a dip in the swimming pool made from natural andesite and quartz to restore balance to your nervous system. As for your room, you can choose a sleek sea- or garden-view residence with a fully-equipped kitchen for recreating creamy Cambodian curries, then unwind on your very own terrace complete with outdoor tub.

By day, take a paddleboard out onto the sparkling sea or book a trip to explore the surrounding rocky outcrops on a private long-tail boat. Then at night, charter a private vessel out into the open ocean to witness the magic of glowing neon plankton.

Come back in time for a late-night dinner at Duo Restaurant, where you’ll find Western dishes infused with Cambodian flavours. Or, opt for strictly local cuisine like fish made fragrant with lemongrass, galangal and chilli. If a low-key evening is your preferred cup of tea, grab a beanbag and settle in for the night’s movie screening at the open-air beach cinema under the stars while you sip on an Otres Summer Night cocktail made from cassis, passionfruit syrup and lime.

White Boutique

8.3 Very good (63 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.7 / 10
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A Cambodian beach resort on a modern waterfront

Snug on the white sands of Otres 2, Ren Resort is a contemporary retreat overlooking the glittering Gulf of Thailand. Superior Rooms come with sweeping sea views from your private balcony, while if you book the Club Room you’ll take in the tropics from a semi-circular bungalow – not to mention your outdoor shower.

The 30-metre-long wraparound pool is the largest in the area and a sublime spot for enjoying a fruity watermelon martini. Nab a sun lounger under a wide umbrella or palm tree for a little shade, and crack open that novel you’ve been dying to read.

If you’re feeling active, ask reception to organise a horseback trip in the tranquil countryside or on the beach – you can even head into the surf on the back of your noble steed! Or if the open ocean is calling your name, book a private island boat tour to Koh Tres and Koh Chraloh, where you can dive through turquoise waters to colourful coral reefs. For a guided jaunt still steeped in nature, explore the saltwater mangroves and coastal rainforest of Ream National Park, keeping an eye out for the magical sight of estuary dolphins.

Back at the resort, the beachside restaurant will serve fresh dishes like tender beef Khmer salad and barracuda ceviche marinated in garlic and citrus fruits. Spice things up with a seafood tom yum soup or locally sourced fried squid sprinkled with quality Kampot pepper sourced from Cambodia’s southern farms.

Ren Resort

8.6 Excellent (293 reviews)
Excellent Service 9.3 / 10
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Oceanfront living at a tropical Cambodia beach resort

Located 30 minutes from Kampot at the base of Bokor Mountain, Nataya Roundhouse Coral Bay Resort and Spa is a waterfront paradise flanked by two kilometres of beach, mangroves and tropical gardens. Follow the bridge from the resort to see local fishermen spearing their catches, or watch seaweed farmers harvesting algae in the surrounding villages for a taste of authentic Cambodian life.

The oceanfront life continues at the resort – walk the 300-metre pier to sit under the shade of a thatched roof pagoda and you might just spot rare Irrawaddy dolphins! Dive straight into the clear blue water to snorkel, or come back in the evening to gaze at the stars as you listen to the lapping of the waves below.

Stay in one of the resort’s Deluxe Bungalows, where you can take in the sea or garden view from the luxury of your four-poster bed. For even more indulgence, slip into the outdoor stone tub for a bubble bath amid tropical birds and blooms. Or, treat yourself to a Pavilion Suite to breeze barefoot across your separate living room under a soaring ceiling and onto your private terrace.

The Reef Restaurant serves Khmer and Western cuisine, including dishes like flaky pan-grilled red snapper with a tangy caper sauce. Finish off your meal with a nightcap – a popular favourite is the Nataya Beach cocktail made from a heady mix of Baileys, vodka and cognac, sure to leave you with sweet dreams.

Nataya Roundhouse Coral Bay Resort & Spa

7.7 Good (104 reviews)
Very good Location 8.2 / 10
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A Cambodian beach resort right on the sand

Owning the idea of barefoot chic, Tamu Hotel is a boutique spot that strikes a balance between casual beach villa and stylish retreat. Modern rooms feature polished concrete floors, retro-inspired furniture and bamboo-enclosed outdoor showers. Stretch out on the daybed of your private patio, or have a coffee on your balcony overlooking palm trees and lush gardens.

The surrounding reefs can be explored by snorkel, paddle board or kayak, with day trips available to take you out to the nearby tropical islands by traditional long-tail boat. If you’re sticking around the resort, take your relaxation to a higher level by borrowing a yoga mat from reception to practise your poses with a beachside backdrop. Or simply bliss out beside the tranquil lap pool on a luxurious sunlounger.

As the sun sets, sip your drink straight out of a coconut and feast on grilled meats and fresh-caught seafood accompanied by crisp salads. Choose a table under the open thatched roof of the on-site restaurant, or go full alfresco beneath the night sky with a paper lantern to light your table. If you’re celebrating something special, book a romantic candlelit dinner for two on the beach and dine with the sand between your toes while the waves lap at the shore.

Tamu Hotel

8.8 Excellent (426 reviews)
Excellent Service 9.2 / 10
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Dreamy ocean bungalows at a pristine beach resort in Cambodia

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With direct access to Otres 1 beach, Sahaa Beach Resort has 26 standalone bungalows dotted across manicured tropical gardens – there’s even an adorable turtle-filled pond. Swing in an egg-shaped hanging rattan chair on the terrace of your Garden View Room, or upgrade to an Executive Villa and plunge into the private pool for a cooling break. If you book a bungalow, let the natural light stream in from wide sliding doors and indulge in an indoor-outdoor rainshower kept airy but private by bamboo-pole screens.

The hotel’s restaurant serves breakfast and dinner in an open, cathedral-style building decorated with hanging lanterns to really get you into the Southeast Asian vibe. Feast on Khmer specialties like stir-fried beef lok lak flavoured in oyster sauce, and finish with a silky coconut brûlée with tamarind baked pineapple. If you’re spending days lazing on a sun lounger beside the pool, you won’t need to go far to fill up: the bar here serves options like freshly squeezed juice and crispy fish burgers.

To get out and explore, rent a scooter to visit Kbal Chhay, a tiered waterfall with a 14-metre drop, and cool off with a swim before picnicking to the soundtrack of rushing water. Or head to the brightly hued, pagoda-style Wat Leu Temple to admire a three-headed carved white elephant and statue of Buddha.

Sahaa Beach Resort

Top rated
8.6 Excellent (271 reviews)
Excellent Service 8.6 / 10
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A community-oriented beach resort on a private island

Luxury and sustainability don’t often come together, but they do in harmony at Song Saa Private Island. This ethical resort on the Koh Rong archipelago is just a 45-minute speedboat ride from Sihanoukville Port.

Built using reclaimed timber from the mainland, the complex supports the local community by employing Cambodian craftsmen and staff. You can see some of the handiwork of local artisans in the private villas, which feature carefully thatched roofs, repurposed furniture and artsy design elements like oil drums converted into lamps.

Bungalows come with jungle or ocean views, or you can splash out on an overwater room to look for parrotfish, seahorses and turtles through clear portholes. Catch the sunshine on your private deck crafted from salvaged wood, then cool off by diving straight into the rippling ocean. For a little break indoors, book a rainforest facial or marine flora body wrap at The Sanctuaries, a series of wall-free spa rooms scattered across the island.

At Vista Bar and Restaurant, you’ll feel the ocean breeze under a romantic thatched roof while taking in undisturbed ocean views. Sink into an oversized bean bag and order a tropical cocktail to watch the sunset. You can taste locally sourced ingredients made into Cambodian delicacies here too, such as samlor koko, a colourfully spicy fish soup. Alternatively, sip on a sweet and sour mojito at Driftwood Bar while snacking on a thin-crust pizza.

Song Saa Private Island

Top rated
8.9 Excellent (32 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.9 / 10
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A tranquil Cambodia beach resort nestled in nature

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Set in a botanical park just outside Kep, Samanea Beach Resort‘s 12 villas rest on manicured lawns, within a protected mangrove forest and next to a private beach. Once the site of quaint seaside cottages, the hotel rescued the materials from the original, long-abandoned buildings to create new villas that blend seamlessly into their natural surroundings.

In your romantic space, bask in your sea, garden or pool view while you deliberate taking a mid-afternoon nap in your four-poster bed beneath a high ceiling. Soak in your private outdoor bathtub under the shade of a regal palm tree, or take advantage of the fully stocked minibar and mix an aperitif to drink on your private terrace.

When you eventually wander beyond your villa, follow the boardwalk through protected mangroves to search for wildlife to photograph. To learn a bit about the culture that has welcomed you, get up early and walk down to Kep’s bustling crab market to see locals vie for the day’s most sought-after catch.

When the sun blazes in the afternoon, cool down with a dip in the 300-square-metre infinity pool with integrated Jacuzzi jets to help soothe tired muscles. If you’re after secluded relaxation, book a bio-treatment that uses fragrant natural oils in the open-air Samathe Spa & Salon. Come sunset, visit the wooden jetty – the longest in the area – for majestic views of Bokor Mountain, or savour a passionfruit mojito with 360-degree views from Panorama Rooftop Bar. Stay on for tapas or book a table at Chankiri for local dishes like the famous blue Kep crab with authentic Kampot pepper.

Samanea Beach

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (183 reviews)
Excellent Service 8.8 / 10
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Feature image courtesy of H.Ahlers / Fotolia

This story first featured in trivago Magazine SG