The route of our trip to Southeast Asia started with us visiting many beaches in Thailand, but after a few weeks basking in the Sunshine in Koh Tao and Koh Lipe we moved inland and explored cities and towns that were far from the coast. We had fun exploring the interior of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, but after a few months we longed to just spend some time relaxing on a beach doing nothing. We had met a french couple in Vietnam who were spending a year and a half traveling the southern hemisphere of the world; Australia, Africa, Southeast Asia and South America (yeah I know, lucky them) and got to talking about long-term travel and the fatigue that can set in. They told us about a beach they had just visited with nothing to do but relax and swim and chill, it sounded perfect. So a few weeks later we made the decision to forgo Angkor Wat (!!) and just go sit on a beach.
From Phnom Penh we took the excellent PSD xpress bus to Sihanoukville ($22.00 usd for 2 people) and stayed the night. The next day, we caught the speed boat that would take us to the island with Buva Sea ($50.00 usd for 2). That in itself was and adventure. The boat is packed with as many people that can pretty much fit, so make sure you have a life-jacket because there are not always enough to go around. They also drive fast, very fast. You are skipping across the sea at full throttle for at least 45 minutes before you get to the first stop. You will be splashed by the sea and if you get sea-sick you will want to make sure you take your pills beforehand. At the time of year we went, late March, the boat will make the stop at Sunset beach, which is the last stop of the journey. Other times of the year you have to make a hike through the jungle from the other side of the island, which takes about half and hour. Our destination was Huba-Huba, a rustic bohemian hostel/guest house on the far end of Sunset beach.
I was instantly smitten with Sunset beach. Unlike the other beaches on Koh Rong Samloem, Sunset beach is small, quiet and has no power. It is remote, which means that not a lot of people come here. The beach is speckled with a handful of rustic guest houses (you could never call the resorts) and restaurants. It is quiet, relaxed and very chill, exactly what we needed.
Now I have to explain a little about this place. It was built about five years ago by a couple of adventurous french travelers who fell in love with this beach. At the time that they built it they were in their early twenties and had never done anything like this before. Needless to say it grew slowly over time; they started with a dorm hostel and have added rustic bungalows and a restaurant over the years. If you are looking for Four Seasons style luxury you might want to go somewhere else, but if you enjoy simple pleasures of sea and sand and a very relaxed vibe, this is your place. It is also very reasonable; we paid $57.00 (Canadian) a night. We had booked on line, but you could probably get it for cheaper if you don’t book ahead and just risk showing up.
We rented a family bungalow because it was right on the beach. We had heard that some of the bungalows had problems with rats (!!!!) visiting at night, so we thought we would be safer on the beach. The room was large with a big bed with a mosquito net over it and a bunk bed further to the back. There was a very basic bathroom with a toilet, shower and sink and you lock your toiletries and valuables in a big lock box that is chained to a pole in the room. Far from glamorous, but just enough to make you comfortable. We never did see or hear the rats (thankfully) but we did have a GIANT Gecko spend a few nights in the rafters watching us, but other than that it was uneventful critter wise. However, because you are on the far side of the island and the only power comes from a generator that only runs for a few hours in the evening, when you finally go to bed there is no fan cooling you down. Now after spending a few months in Asia we were used to sleeping in hot weather, however this was next level. I am not sure it ever was cooler than 30 degrees (Celsius) at night. This made it extremely hard to sleep, so if you go you may want to bring some sort of battery operated fan. Failing that, you can do what I did one night and sleep in a hammock outside of your room.
So while sleeping was not the most comfortable, the heat does have its up-sides as well. The best memories I have of being there are the hours we would spend soaking in the ocean, because the water was the same temperature as the air which was easily 32 degrees (Celsius). Not once was I ever cold, not even for a moment. We met a fun couple from Australia who, like us, was taking time off to travel. Alex was a jazz singer with an incredible voice who upon learning of her considerable skills, we forced to give us an impromptu concert while bobbing in the turquoise sea. I think I spent more time in the water than on land the entire time we spent on Sunset beach.
In the last year and a half, the owners of Huba-Huba have built a restaurant and bar area on the beach. It was a great place to just hang out and the food was actually pretty good. You are on a remote beach so absolutely everything you need to run a restaurant has to be brought in by ferry, so the dining options are not endless but you certainly will not starve.
The crowd on sunset beach is pretty much what you would expect from a place like this. Backpackers, bohemians, adventures, hippies and others with a relaxed live and let live attitude. While we were there no parties happened, but we heard from time to time they do throw a party somewhere on the beach. This is not a place where you will find very many families or other more conventional travelers, most people here were traveling for months if not years. Huba-Huba is not the only place to stay on Sunset beach, you can also try booking Sleeping Trees or Robinson Bungalows, but I definitely recommend booking in advance. I found all through my trip the internet has changed everything and even the smallest most remote guest houses had a presence online. Overall I say go and enjoy, these places are becoming harder and harder to find every year.