Are you looking for something different? Are you adventurous? Koh Trong Island is another of Cambidoans diamonds in the rough – or luxury for $50!
Koh Trong Island
If you find yourself in the town of Kratie, you should consider a worthwhile side trip. Splitting the Mekong River in two is Koh Trong Island. This six-kilometre long island, a sandbar really, lies just across from Kratie.
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Cambodia, Koh Trong offers a taste of rural island life like no other. Places to see include an old stupa and a small floating village, as well as the chance to catch a glimpse one of the rare Mekong mud turtles that inhabit the western shore. Also, Koh Trong is a great side track for a slow morning or afternoon meander through a litter-free environment, picture-book perfect villages, or have a swim at the beach on the west side of the island. There are about 348 families who make Koh Trong home.
Ferry To Koh Trong Island
To get to the island, catch the ferry from the dock, which is just below the Jasmine Boat restaurant in Kratie. The ferry leaves at regular intervals throughout the day, every day. The first ferry leaves early in morning and runs until about 6pm. From the island, the first ferry leaves early and the last leaves about 6pm It costs 1,000 riels (25 cents) per person each way. The journey takes about 10 minutes. Keep in mind that it only gets underway when it is full.
Cyclebodia on Koh Trong island
If you like, you can bring a bicycle for an additional 500 riels. Alternatively, you can hire one on the island for $1 to $2. You can rent a bicycle on the island near the ferry landing. When you arrive, the top of the walkway off the beach brings you directly to the Community Based Tourism Centre. You can hire a bicycle or book a homestay here. If you don’t want to cycle around, you can take a cow cart for $15, or a horse cart for $10.
Other Transport on the Island
For something different, loop the island on a motorcycle taxi for $2.50. From the ferry landing on Koh Trong, a motorcycle taxi will cost you $1.50, depending on your negotiating skills, to the northern end of the island where most of the accommodation is. A private boat to the resort costs about $6.
Planning to Stay Overnight on Koh Trang
Of the several homestays on Koh Trong island, there are two main homestays. The best is Koh Trong Community Homestay I; located in the northern part of the island. The homestay is in an old wooden house. There are two bedrooms and bathrooms with Western-style toilets. There is public sleeping on the floor of the stilted wooden house with more private sleeping towards the rear.
The rates are reasonable, and all sleeping arrangements include a mosquito net and bedding and decent food is available. Underneath the house there are a few hammocks strung around. This is also quite a scenic spot on the island. You can book at the Community Based Tourism Centre when you arrive. The homestay is located about two kilometres north of the ferry dock near Rajabori Villas. Ride your bike, take a motorcycle taxi for $1, or ride an oxcart.
Luxury on Koh Trong Island
Rajabori Villas is a boutique for thos who seek a bit of luxury. The lodge has a swimming pool and attractive bungalows that provide the best accommodation in the Kratie region. It’s located at the northern tip of the island. There are 15 rooms spread into 13 traditional wooden houses, single or double. The villas and all public spaces have been furnished and decorated in the traditional Khmer style. The restaurant is open all day and offers a variety of local and Western dishes. Barbecue facilities are also available. The resort has its own generator, so electricity is not a problem.
Interestingly, solar panels provide additional electricity during the day and late night. The resort is a 10-minute walk from Wat Chong Koh Pagoda and Wat Kbal Koh Pagoda. If non-guests want to use the pool, then there is a five-dollar fee. However, staying here will set you back $60 a night for starters.
Arun Mekong Guesthouse
Practically next door is the more rustic Arun Mekong guesthouse. A large wooden villa is the centre piece, and houses five guest rooms and an open-sided bar and restaurant area facing the Mekong. The rooms are all wooden and beautifully furnished with fan, mosquito nets, and en suite bathrooms downstairs. Upstairs has a share bathroom. In the gardens, there are two bungalows. The staff are very helpful and speak excellent English. However, electricity runs only from 6pm to 11pm here.
Several NGOs organise homestays on Koh Trong. They can be contacted through their web sites if you plan ahead. Homestays can also be arranged with the Cambodian Rural Development Team. This organisation has an office at Le Tonle guesthouse in Kratie.
There is a nine-kilometre trail around the island. Sections of the trail are concreted. Be alert for other bicycles and motorcycles, as the trail is used by almost everyone on the island to get around. However, and fortunately, there are no cars on the island.
The scenery is lush, unspoilt, with a few villages, cattle, and rice paddies in the centre. If you travel here during the rainy season it is a blinding green.
There is a temple at the southern tip, a floating Vietnamese village to the southwest and a newer temple and ancient chedi near the centre.
The Vietnamese floating villages has houses made from wood and bamboo. consists of about 30-40 wooden houses constructed above the water. Houses have canoes that travel across the river to Kratie or go fishing.
Don’t forget to try the local grapefruit. The fruit is famous in Cambodia due to its tasty flavour, and it’s only grown on Koh Trong.
Along the west side are two small family cafes, where you can pick up a coffee or a coconut to keep you going. The first café is name Koh Trong Café. It is run by a very welcoming family. You can watch the sunset from the island’s western banks.
So, if you’re looking for something off the beaten track, try Koh Trong.