Tag - Cambodia

M’Pay Bay – The Beach Village No One Wants to Leave

Beach view of M'Pay Bay Village on Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia. ©

“Came for a few days, stayed for two weeks”

Local residents and expatriates of M’Pay Bay Village have heard that one before. But what is it about Koh Rong Samloem’s M’Pay Bay Village that spellbinds visitors to change their travel plans and stay as long as their budget, tourist visa, or return flight will allow them to?

Even though we were already madly in love with the west side of the island, we decided to head to the north-side of the island to investigate what the buzz is about.

Reaching M’Pay Bay Village

We heard good things about M’Pay Bay Village. A cosy little fisherman’s village with a pleasant atmosphere. When we decided to go there, it turned out to be less straightforward than expected. It seemed, no-one could give us exact information on how to get to this mythical village. “There is a hiking trail from Saracen Bay that will take you to the village – but bring a machete”. “Oh no, it’s not possible to hike through the jungle”, “take a boat to Ecosea & Bungalow Village Resort and ask a fisherman to take you from there to the village”, “no, you should catch the supply boat coming from Sihanoukville and hop off at the village, but it doesn’t always go”.

In the end, the best advice we got was to go to White Orchid restaurant and ask the staff. This restaurant seems to be a little transportation hub for the island of Koh Rong Samloem. We waited a couple hours on Saracen Bay which we spent exploring the long beach, and then hopped on the supply boat.

Sailing counter clockwise around the island to the northside of the island, we arrived at the village pier.

Quickly we began to understand the spell-binding charm of this village. The village pier where you get off has quirky wooden houses on stilts attached to it. As you continue onto the island, you step right onto the main road of the village.

Charming beach street of Accommodation M'Pay Bay, Koh Rong Samloem. ©

Who can resist a village where the main road looks like this!

Idyllic beach village in Cambodia. ©

Looking down the main street in the other direction

Accommodation options in M’Pay Bay Village

Small restaurants and new guesthouses and bungalow resorts are springing up in the village. Tourist numbers are low, but growing bit by bit. The establishments are partly owned by local entrepreneurs taking advantage of the new opportunities brought by tourism, and partly by foreigners who simply couldn’t bear to leave the village. Luckily, until now the accommodation has been kept low-key and simple, reflecting the life of a fisherman village.

Accommodation and restaurant signs from M'Pay Bay Village, Koh Rong Samloem. ©

M’Pay Bay’s growing number of accommodation options

There are options for those who want a homestay type experience, where local families have cleared space in a few of their rooms to welcome visitors. The Drift has a welcoming hostel atmosphere with common sleeping areas and youthful vibes, while you can try to spend the night in a hammock at The Dragon Fly (mosquito nets included). Bungalow options have become rather numerous ranging from dirt-cheap to mid-range bliss.

Those seeking a romantic hideout go to Sunset Bungalows located on a rocky peninsula with beautiful seaviews or Ecosea & Bungalow Village, situated a few hundred meters east of the village. The latter practically has its own private beach. Worth a mention is the absolutely charming Beach House (our favourite) with stunning architecture, great views from the hammock on the balcony, and high comfort.

Stunning accommodation architecture at The Beach House in M'Pay Bay Village on Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia.

The amazing Beach House

Restaurants – Khmer, Turkish, Western, or Japanese?

Local restaurant at M'Pay Bay Village, Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia. ©

Delicious food with local flavour…

Fruit store on the main street of M'Pay Bay Village, Koh Rong Samloem. ©

..and fresh fruits to go with it

In the village, there are both restaurants that serve Khmer and Southeast Asian classics, and the usual Western classics of burgers and pasta. Highly recommendable are two restaurants right on the pier: Babagannus serving Turkish delicacies and a local family-run restaurant serving a rich and varied buffet (book in advance). Plenty of fresh seafood and no shortages for vegans and vegetarians either.

Here are a few images from in and around the village.

M’Pay Bay’s Beaches

On either side of the pier there is a beach. For taking a dip or swimming the best one is on your right hand side as you face the island coming from the village pier. A good handful of small bungalow resorts and restaurants are situated along this side of the beach, and the sandy stretch is kept cleaner here by the accommodation providers. The sand is soft and no sharp rocks or corals lay on the seabed. There are basically no waves and the water is shallow for the first 30 meters heading out. As you approach the small peninsula on the left, the seabed becomes rocky and slightly more dangerous, as there are large sea urchins between the rocks.

Heading in the opposite direction (south), you will pass fishermen’s boats and an area with some small boulders, before you reach the beach pictured in the last image above. The beach here has some sea debris, but is otherwise beautiful, and the water of the bay is usually calm.

Snorkeling and Kayaking

Apart from the rocky areas near the peninsula, there is not much going on in terms of snorkeling right off the beaches. However, we strongly recommend you to grab a kayak and snorkels, and head towards the small cone island, Koh Koun, right in front of M’Pay Bay Village. On the opposite side of the small island there is a stunning display of marine life and great visibility. Should you want to dive, the village has a dive center right on the beach.

While you have a charming village, an impressive selection of food, and above average beaches, what really spellbinds people to this location is the laid back and jovial atmosphere. People from various places on the globe have been smitten by the village, and together they have built a thriving community that rubs off on anyone visiting this village on the northern side of Koh Rong Samloem.

Can’t get enough of Cambodia?

Don’t forget to further explore Cambodia on our dedicated Cambodia destination page. You can also ready about why Cambodia is Southeast Asia’s next big beach destination.

Cambodia – Southeast Asia’s New Tourism Hotspot

Koh Russey by Alila

What Makes a Complete Tourism Destination?

Unless we are talking pure beach holiday packages, most travel itineraries in Southeast Asia contain four key elements:

An urban transportation hub with shopping, dining experiences, museums, architecture, and nightlife.

Historical and Cultural Attractions
Temples, ruins, religious relics, customs and traditions.

Natural Wonders
Wildlife, national parks, mountains, waterfalls, rice fields, and jungles.

Beach destinations with a variety of accommodation options and facilities, activities, dining, and nightlife.


If these four elements are surrounded by a good travel infrastructure and a stable and safe political environment, you have what it takes to nurture a mature tourism destination that can stand on its own feet.

Cambodia Has Finally Arrived

For many years Cambodia fulfilled three of the four key elements as a travel destination. A lot of backpackers went to Cambodia as part of their Southeast Asia experience, but rarely as a part of a pre-booked itinerary from a travel agency. For mainstream tourism, Cambodia was an add-on, always playing second fiddle to Thailand and Vietnam. Mostly, Cambodia was a two or three day itinerary to Siem Reap and the Khmer temples. In some cases Phnom Penh was included in the itinerary, but the beach holiday would almost without exception lead tourists to one of the Thai islands.

In Cambodia, the history is there in abundance, the beautiful tropical nature is there, and Phnom Penh has the markets, museums, and the city vibes to attract some city break time. The beach holiday options for the 3-5 star market were very limited, and it was hard for travel agencies to work with the small offline resorts. Still, there are not that many options, but that is changing fast. This means that you can get your cultural and historical fix, satisfy your dining, shopping, and nightlife desire, and you can top it off with relaxing beach stays.

Cambodia Emerging as a Beach Holiday Destination

Sihanoukville is the local hub for Cambodian island hopping and beach holidays. The resort town itself mostly caters to backpackers and party lovers with cheap accommodation and no shortage of bars and activities around the beaches.

If you are looking for serene beaches, relaxation, or family bonding the Cambodian islands in the Gulf of Thailand are stunning. And these years, they are becoming more developed and “comfortable” for the bigger tourism markets to explore. A rarity a few years ago, today it is rather easy to find Cambodian resorts with 24-hour electricity, wifi, and hot water. Moreover, some of the big hotel players in barefoot luxury are moving in…

Alila Villas Koh Russey

Krabey Island. Photo credits: Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

On Koh Russey, the Alila group is opening a new luxury villa resort. On Koh Krabey, Six Senses are opening their first Cambodian property Six Senses Krabey Island. Both are scheduled to open during 2017. Couple these to openings with the already famous Song Saa Private Island, and you have the up-market beach holiday options that travel agencies have been looking for in order to finalise their Cambodia roundtrip packages.

Expect a big boost in Cambodian tourist arrivals and revenue during the coming years. It’s the new tropical tourism hotspot in Southeast Asia.

Learn more about Cambodia in our Cambodia Travel Guide.

Feature photo: Koh Russey. Photo credits: Alila Villas Koh Russey.


New Cambodia Infographic & Destination Page

Cambodian sunset with Cambodian-style beach chair in the foreground. By

Cambodia Infographic

We are happy to present the brand new Cambodia destination guide on But first, check out our homemade Cambodia infographic, giving you a quick overview of traveling to the country and exploring the islands and beaches.

Cambodia infographic. Infographic of Cambodia's Islands and beaches including tourism information, price index, best beaches, travel seasons, and Unique Selling Points for Cambodia. Made by

The Cambodia infographic gives you a quick idea of when to go, how much you can expect to spend, which beach to go to, and much more.

More information on Cambodia

Included on the page is also a look at Cambodia’s tourism potential, the beautiful beaches, Khmer food, when to go, and the what type of accommodation you can find. We will continue to update the page with more information, so stay tuned.

Check out our new Cambodia Page

Good Resources for Your Cambodia Trip

Lastly, here are some valuable links if you want more recommendations and do’s and don’ts about travel to Cambodia:

Cambodian Islands
Nomadic Matt’s Cambodia Travel Guide
Travelfish’ Cambodia Guide
 Responsible Travel’s Cambodia Guide
Travelling Jezebel’s Cambodia section

Kampot Zipline Adventure

Kampot Zipline River Park in Cambodia offering cheap ziplining adventures

A New Adventure in Town

zipline instructor with rope, harness, and carabiners


We met up with French native Alexis to try his all new zipline adventure on the Kampot River in Cambodia. Kampot Zipline River Park officially opened on the 16th of March 2016, and contrary to what you may think, this action-packed experience receives most of its customers among Cambodian thrill-seekers. So far, 80 percent of the customers have been Cambodians, while the remains 20 percent have been expats living in Cambodia and foreign travelers visiting Kampot.

  Kampot River, Cambodia
Opened: March 2016
Price: USD 5$ (super cheap, right!)
Price includes: Safety equipment, instructions, tree walk, ziplining, and return boat
Duration: Approx. 30 minutes
Conditions: Minimum height 120 cm, maximum weight 110 kg 

As Alexis says, the River Park gives Cambodians a unique opportunity to try out ziplining in a fun and safe environment while not having to empty their pockets. The experience currently costs only 5 USD and includes safety equipment and instructions, an exciting walk up the spiralling bamboo stairway to the zipline platform at the top of a tall tree, ziplining over the Kampot river, and a pleasant rowing trip back across the river.

Zipline Gallery from Kampot Zipline River Park

Alexis worked on the project for 6 months before the grand opening. He has constructed the setup himself to ensure that every single step in the experience is smooth and secure, and every morning he conducts safety checks. Kampot Zipline has received local publicity through newspapers, TV, and a good dose of social media sharing by Cambodians who are eager to share their exhilarating adventure over the Kampot River.

The plan is to expand the experience with a return zipline journey along with new fun trials on the riverside.

If you are in the Kampot area in southern Cambodia, don’t miss your chance to try out this new and exciting experience at the River Park.

Kampot Ziplining – Practical Information

Since the Kampot Zipline adventure requires a bit of climbing and balancing it is advised only for persons in a good physical condition. The experience will not boost your adrenaline level to a maximum like a bungyjump, but you will challenge yourself if you have a mild fear of heights. The minimum height of participants is 120 cm, while the zipline is suitable for people weighing up to 110 kg. Do note that the more you weigh, the more speed you will gain on the journey over the river, and the closer your feet will be to reaching the river water.

More About Kampot Zipline River Park

If you like more information, images, and videos from this zipline adventure, check out their facebook page.