Song Saa Private Island

Koh Rong archipelago, Kep & Coast, Cambodia Book from

Reviewed by Merope Mills
A luxurious all-villa resort with a conscience, set in a secluded archipelago 30 minutes by speedboat from Sihanoukville
Draw up a checklist of everything a secluded island retreat should offer and Song Saa Private Island hotel will come up trumps on every item. Infinity pools, shaded daybeds on quiet sandy beaches, private villas with four-poster beds, and a bar and restaurant with 360-degree ocean views; it’s all here.

This small resort, opened in 2012, is spread over 2 islands in the undeveloped Koh Rong Archipelago. It was founded by Australian couple Rory and Melita Hunter, who stumbled on the area after hiring a boat to explore. They are the first to build a hotel here, and have worked hard to preserve the environment they fell in love with - it’s like you’d imagine Thailand was 30 years ago, before tourists arrived. The result is a seriously relaxed - and relaxing - place. Some of the 27 1- and 2-bedroom villas are wrapped around trees in the jungle, others are suspended above the sea with steps down to the water, and all have private decks and plunge pools. Water-ski or snorkel, trek with a conservation expert and take a boat trip to the local village, then kick back on the beach with a cocktail, happy in the knowledge that the chef has dinner at the ready whenever you feel like eating.


  • Island living doesn't come more blissful than this. There’s nothing to disturb the peace other than the sound of lapping waves and the odd boat
  • The food, a mix of traditional Cambodian and sophisticated European, is spectacular. Meals can be served overlooking the ocean, by your pool, even on the beach
  • Ideal for honeymooners, but surprisingly family-friendly, too: there's an on-site nanny, and staff can set up treasure hunts
  • Rates include all meals and most drinks, as well as laundry, minibars, international phone calls, many activities and speedboat transfers (30 minutes) from the mainland
  • A commendable commitment to the environment: Rory and Melita have set up a marine reserve around the islands and employ 6 conservation staff


  • It’s a bit of a trek to get here - you’ll need to take an internal flight from Siem Reap or a 4-hour road trip from Phnom Penh, followed by the resort's speedboat, or book a helicopter transfer direct to Song Saa
  • It’s very expensive but rates include tax all meals and most activities
  • Some villas are less private than others. If the idea of passing boats disturbs you, opt for a Jungle Villa
  • You can walk around the resort in 10-15 minutes and everything else is a boat trip away, so it’s not for those craving wild nights out
  • The high-tech entertainment system in the villas has a poor choice of films

Best time to go

The resort is open all year round. October to April offers the best weather, with dry, clear days and balmy moonlit evenings. Christmas and New Year are the most popular times and the villas are invariably booked up early. May to September brings the wet season, when storms and rain are interspersed with sunny spells. If you don’t mind the showers, it’s a great time to spot wildlife in the lush rainforest.

If you time your visit with a full moon, you can join Rory and Melita for their monthly full moon parties, when cocktails and a special dinner menu are served up by the main pool.

Our top tips

  • Song Saa makes an ideal last stop on a tour of Cambodia - a few days relaxing here are the perfect antidote to hectic Angkor and Siem Reap
  • Don’t be surprised to find clocks throughout the resort running an hour ahead of the mainland. Cambodia sits close to the equator, so the sun rises early and sets around 6pm. To provide extra daylight and maximise sunset and sunrise views, Song Saa has established its own time zone, jokingly referred to as ‘island time’!

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Resort
  • 27 villas
  • Restaurant and bars (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Watersports centre
  • Daily yoga classes


The 27 palm-roofed villas, all with private decks and plunge pools, are dotted around the resort. They are near identical in terms of décor and layout, with gleaming wooden floors, exposed sandstone walls, four-posters swathed in mosquito nets, and indoor and outdoor sitting areas with smart white daybeds. Ensuite bathrooms have double sinks, vast sunken bathtubs (some looking out over the ocean) and spacious open-air rain showers. The overall feel is sleek and sophisticated, but wherever possible Rory and Melita have used recycled timber or driftwood from old fishing boats to create rustic tables, chairs and wall hangings.

The stilted Overwater Villas have steps straight down into the ocean, plus a small glass floor where you can watch fish swimming beneath your feet. Ocean View Villas are set on the shoreline, with sea-facing windows, a small patch of private beach, and a little alfresco dining area jutting out over the water. Jungle Villas are perched in the rainforest above and come with a choice of sunrise or sunset ocean views; some have been built around trees, which now grow up through their decks.

There are also 5 palatial 2-bedroom villas for families or friends travelling together. Each has 2 bedrooms, 2 ensuite bathrooms, a large living area with sofas and a dining table, and a bigger pool flanked by a table and several daybeds. Two are set in the jungle, 2 sit over the water, and the most luxurious of all, the Royal Villa, is hidden away from the others in a secluded corner of the resort, complete with a private jetty; guests staying here have the option to hire their own chef and longtail boat if they want.

All villas have free minibars, a selection of carefully chosen wines (extra charge), Bose sound systems with iPod docks, and satellite TVs with a small selection of films on demand.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Plunge pool
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet
  • Yoga mat


The Vista Restaurant & Lounge sits on stilts above the ocean, with a sofa’d deck for cocktails and open-air tables for meals under the stars. You're in good hands: executive chef Joel Wilkinson has worked in some of the world’s top resorts and was has been private chef to the Rod Stewart, Kevin Spacy and Hugh Jackman to name a few.

His lunch and dinner menus take their cue from contemporary Cambodian cuisine and European fine dining. Every artfully decorated course comes with an amuse-bouche, and our dishes were filled with imaginative ingredients and tricks - freshly shucked oysters with flavoured salt and dipping sauce, salt-baked fish with 'foamed' cubes of tomatoes, Tom Yum soup with prawns and fried frogs legs. Our desserts - sweet Cambodian rice dumplings with sesame praline and red-bean sauce, and banana terrine with lemon and peppercorn ice cream - were served on lightboxes. Illuminated by moonlight, it was unquestionably a meal to remember.

If you fancy something more informal, you can grab a pizza and a cold beer at the beachside Driftwood Bar, or order from the room service menu, which offers a variety of Western food and rustic Cambodian fare, delivered to your villa in traditional baskets. Everything is here, from amok (the national dish of curried steamed fish) to steak and chips, spaghetti and sinful puddings like dark chocolate and peanut torte with marmalade ice cream. Tables can also be set up by the main pool, on the beach or at any number of secluded spots around the resort.

For breakfast, served by your pool or in the restaurant, you can choose healthy fruit and smoothies, less virtuous pastries and meat platters, or decedent eggs Benedict, bacon and sausages. And every morning a hand-written note from the manager is delivered to your villa with a suggestion for eating that day - perhaps an invitation to join other guests for tapas or sample freshly caught fish grilled on the barbecue.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Vista Restaurant & Lounge


  • Lounge on the powdery white-sand beach, then take your pick from sailing, water-skiing or diving at the watersports centre
  • Catch some rays on your private deck, or join other guests by the communal infinity pool
  • Take part in the poolside morning yoga class (you’ll find a yoga mat in your villa wardrobe), then get pampered in one of the open-air treatment rooms. There’s a wide range of massages, facials and rituals to choose from, including Himalayan salt scrubs, anti-jet lag wraps and Buddhism-inspired treatments
  • Join the resort’s marine experts for a guided snorkelling tour of Coral Reef Island, where seahorses and parrotfish dart among vibrant corals
  • Go on aJourney of Change, where you get a chance to work with the marine biologists, jungle experts, and to help with conservation work in local villages
  • Book a speedboat or a traditional longtail boat and head off for a private picnic on one of the beaches fringing the neighbouring island of Koh Rong. The chefs will pack a gourmet hamper for you
  • Kayak through Koh Rong’s mangrove forests, which provide shelter for kingfishers, hornbills and other colourful birdlife, as well as rare lizards and orchids. Afterwards, enjoy lunch and an afternoon of sunbathing on the vast Five Mile Beach
  • Trek through the rainforest with one of the resort’s conservation experts, who will teach you about the local ecosystem and measures being taken to protect it
  • Take a trip by traditional buffalo cart to a local farm and fishing village, where you’ll learn about Khmer agriculture and culture. Browse the market and enjoy a blessing at the Buddhist pagoda while you’re there
  • Join the resort's chefs for a Cambodian cooking class. These can be tailored to children, too

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Picnics
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Water-skiing
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Yoga


Families are welcome here and children of all ages are catered for. There’s a range of 1- and 2-bedroom villas to choose from, and the beach has warm, shallow waters that are safe for little ones. We’d say it’s best for children over 4, however, as the steep drop from the raised boardwalks would be a hazard for crawling babies and toddlers.

The resort has a surprising amount of activities to keep kids entertained, including swimming lessons, children’s cooking classes with the chef and tailored snorkelling tours of the reef. In addition, the conservation team will happily set up an educational treasure hunt with gifts at the end, you can discover the island's flora and fauna on nature trails, and there’s an air-conditioned playhouse with toys.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The 2-bedroom villas provide plenty of space, though note that both bedrooms are doubles. A rollaway bed or baby cot can be added to any villa on request.


A trained nanny can look after children if you want to enjoy some downtime or a romantic meal for 2.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cot
  • Highchair

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

There are children’s menus in the restaurant, and the Driftwood Bar and room service menus have plenty of kid-pleasing options, including pizza, spaghetti and gourmet burgers. Puréed baby food is available on request, and family picnics can be set up around the resort or on the neighbouring island of Koh Rong

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming lessons
  • Educational treasure hunts around the island; look out for hidden Robinson Crusoe messages in a bottle too
  • Guided snorkelling tours of the reef (children must be accompanied by at least 1 adult)
  • Children’s cooking lessons including pizza making
  • Water-skiing and sailing (older children only)
  • Bubblemaker scuba course suitable from age 8 upwards, including wreck diving and playing noughts and crosses on waterproof pads
  • Kids yoga on request
  • Spa treatments such as hair braiding, face painting and mani/pedi sessions
  • Plant coconut palms or vegetables in the garden
  • Playhouse with toys and games open daily
  • Board games to borrow

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Book a 60 minute Pirate Cruise, includes games and storytelling plus snacks
  • Buffalo cart trips to the local village
  • Kayaking through the mangroves
  • Family picnics on Koh Rong


  • Airport: 30 minutes by boat, then 10 minutes by road (Sihanoukville)
  • Shop: 30 minutes by boat
  • Hospital: 30 minutes by boat, though an on-call doctor can visit the resort if needed
Kid Friendly:

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