Cambodia’s Island Hide-Away: Song Saa

When you close your eyes and think of paradise, what do you see? An island hideaway, with white-sand beaches kissed by gin-clear waters? A place covered in virgin rainforest, bordered by tropical reefs? If so, what you’re thinking of is Song Saa, a private island resort in Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand.

The island comprise of 27 villas, with open-air showers, private verandas and pools, sunrise or sunset views and, in some cases, a private jetty where your speedboat transfer can dock.  Fancy.

There’s the obligatory spa and wellness centre on its own island, as well as nature trails through the forest, kayaking, snorkelling with the resort’s marine biologists, and visits to local fishing villages. Or you could just sink into the vast white day beds, sip cocktails, and wonder what executive chef Neil Wager is going to knock you up for dinner, served in the restaurant on stilts in the ocean.

Cambodia has been on the up as a tourist destination for a number of years, as more and more of us have been drawn to a country that has so much to offer – beaches, adventure, exciting food, friendly people – but is still coming to terms with its potent, often tortured past.  But it’s never before had anything like Song Saa: a high-end oasis of tranquillity which will, the owners hope, put Cambodia firmly on the luxury travel map.  That said, it doesn’t come cheap. One night, fully inclusive of food, all drinks, transfers and activities, cost about $570 US per person.

The best time to visit Cambodia is November to February, when it is less humid, and while you can visit at any time of the year, it can get pretty hot and sticky from April to June.  If you want to treat yourself to a night or two at Song Saa after exploring the rest of the country, you can fly from Siam Reap, the gateway to Angkor Wat, in an hour for around $66 US.

Tip: Cambodians are used to shaking tourist’s hands in the Western fashion, but you will win points by pressing your hands together in prayer and bowing when you meet locals.