Dolphin-spotting and gold-tinged sunsets at the heart of the Mekong river.
Koh Pdao Homestay offers visitors the chance to experience the gentle pace of island life in Kratie Province. Watch spectacular sunsets across the Mekong from the shores of Roundeav island. Climb aboard a wooden boat and spend your early mornings or evenings spotting Irrawaddy dolphins pop their heads up from the muddy waters. Spend leisurely hours cycling the sandy streets of Pdao and Sompan villages before enjoying a home-cooked meal at your homestay. Koh Pdao is truly a spectacular village immersion. Better still, eco-tourism on the island supports ongoing conservation projects and generates income for local families.
In 2008, Koh Pdao Homestay opened its doors to tourists with the help of Cambodian Rural Development Tours (CRDT). Since then, eco-tourism has helped support local families by providing alternative income, in particular for women. Also, the project contributes to conservation efforts on the Mekong river, especially to protect the critically endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin.
A word from Prom Sarin, Community Tourism Manager at Koh Pdao Homestay: “I’m Sarin, I grew up on the island of Roungneav and I’ve been part of this project since the beginning. Over 10 years ago we set up community eco-tourism together with CRDT. Now, we have a team of three people who manage the project and 18 homestays on the island, six in Sompan Village (south) and 12 in Pdao Village (north). Just over four years ago we also received support from Non-Timber Products Exchange Program (NTFPEP), an NGO, who helped train homestays hosts and provided marketing for the project. We also have solar powered electricity in all our homestays. We hope that in the future that we can receive more tourists. The island is very special to us, and we hope to share this with more people.”
Visitors to the Koh Pdao Homestay have contributed to over 102 different projects on the island. With the support of CRDT, visitors can choose to support the community on Koh Pdao through different ways. For example, we now have more water tanks, chicken and duck pens and vegetable gardens. This has been incredibly beneficial for our community and really supports local families. Without the work tourism provides, many would have to leave to big cities of Cambodia to find work. So it helps us stay strong as a community.
But more than that, tourism supports the Mekong River conservation efforts. Previously many in the community would fish in a way that damaged local wildlife. This risked the health of the Irrawaddy Dolphin. Now income from the project supports environmental projects too. By staying at Koh Pdao Homestay not only are you supporting the community you help to protect the environment.
The Koh Pdao homestay is a community run eco-tourism project located on the island of Roungeav. At 45km long, the island is the largest on the Mekong and is naturally charming. Arriving by wooden boat from Sambor (mainland Kratie province), its shores are lined with palms and coconut trees. Buffalo can be seen bathing on the water’s edge shore whilst an array of bird species call this island home.
Roungdeav island has four villages: Samphin, Koh Pdao, Kompong Kravein and Ampil Tuek. Two of which have homestays, an opportunity to experience rural Cambodian life whilst supporting local families. There are a team of three staff that manage the project, eighteen families who offer homestays, and a group of five women that cook delicious Khmer cuisine for visitors. Locals also offer boat trips across the Mekong to spot rare freshwater dolphins and birds or to swim at sandy beaches nearby.
Before tourism, locals relied on growing rice, fishing and raising livestock such as buffalo, chickens, ducks, pigs and cows. Now, tourism at the Koh Pdao Homestay helps to generate alternative livelihoods for local people.
Additionally, it also supports the conservation of the critically endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin. The waters just north of the island are an important habitat for the dolphins. Funds from the project are reinvested into the community and support staff, emergency funds, and ongoing tourism and conservation projects.
The Koh Pdao Homestay is accessible via boat from the Sambor, a 40km drive north of Kratie town. Lifejackets are provided for the 30-minute journey. For large groups, boats have wooden benches for seating however for smaller groups (2-3 people) seating is cross-legged.
A Community Tourism Centre on the Western side of the island has a map of the island, bicycle hire and western style toilets available. A set of wooden steps leads up from the beach to access the centre.
Homestays are spread out across the two of the villages on Roungdeav: Samphin and Koh Pdao. Homestays are traditional Khmer style, elevated on stilts and accessed via steps. Each homestay provides a mattress, bedding and mosquito net in either a shared space or private room. Bathrooms are squat-style with bucket showers. All homestays have solar powered electricity available.
Sandy roads cut through the island, connecting all four villages. Bicycles are available for hire from the tourism centre, perfect for exploring.
A day trip to Koh Pdao is not enough, we recommend staying overnight at The Koh Pdao Homestay. That way you can truly experience remote island life. Homestays are with local families, and despite limited English, offer a welcoming and comfortable stay. Khmer food is prepared to perfection, cooked from local ingredients.
As the island is large, a bicycle is one of the best ways to explore. One main stretch of sand road cuts through the whole island. Cycle past rice fields, local villages and watch for birds circling above. Make sure you have a hat and sunscreen, the middle of the day can get especially hot here.
SEE THE IRRAWADDY DOLPHINS
A visit to Kratie province is not complete without a boat trip on the Mekong river to spot the unique Irrwaddy Dolphin. Locals offer 30minute – 1 hour boat trips by wooden long boat. Times are flexible however locals recommend late afternoon as the best time to see dolphins and perfect light as the sun begins to fade. Boats are wooden long boats.
Boats can also be arranged to visit a nearby sandy beach for a few hours swimming and relaxing. Visitors can also combine both dolphin watching and the sandy beach experience.
Do as locals do and bathe in the Mekong. Dusk is a beautiful time to jump in the water and soak up the tranquillity of the island. Golden tinged sunsets, baots slwol humming across the Mekong and local kids splashing in the water too – a sure perfect moment.
Getting to Kratie
From Phnom Penh, regular bus services depart to Kratie Province and take between 5-7 hours. Times vary between 7am – 9am. Check with your guesthouse for up to date times, most guesthouse would be able to offer you a local company that serves both Kratie and Stung Treng. Or visit bookmebus.com to book your journey directly.
Koh Pdao Homestay can be reached by boat from Sambour (40kms north of Kratie). Boats are arranged in advance and dock at the shore across from the 100 pillar pagoda.
Getting to Sambour
Sambour is 40kms north of Kratie town along national road 6 and 7 From Kratie. there are several options for how you can get to Sambour – hire a motorbike in Kratie for the duration of your trip or just arrange a motodop or a tuktuk (fits three people) to take you to Sambour. Prices vary, and you will have to negotiate to get the best deal – it is Cambodia so they drivers might start high in a hope that you pay more. The cost for a tuktuk should be around $20. The journey taked approximately 1 hour.
Getting to the Koh Pdao Island Homestay
From Sambour, Koh Pdao Homestay is located on the island of Rougdeav is a 30 minute boat ride. Boats cost $12/$16 1-3pax/5-9pax return. Boats are arranged in advance and dock at the shore across from the 100 Pillar pagoda. The boat can take you directly to your homestay.
From Siem Reap to Kratie, buses depart in the morning and take between 7- 8hours.
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