Experience true Cambodian hospitality on an un-touched island, on the Mekong
In Khmer, Koh Preah translates directly as an ‘Island of God’, and there is little wonder why. The Koh Preah Island Homestay is full to the brim with natural resources. The island is home to bird life, fresh water dolphins, plus extremely friendly locals – you’ll be pinching yourself. Whether you’re travelling south from Laos, or heading North to Stung Treng town – do yourself a favour and spend a few days here. Swim, explore, spot fresh water dolphins or relax into the smooth rhythm of island life. The Koh Preah Island Homestay captures the essence of the Mekong river – a truly unforgettable travel experience.
Community-based eco-tourism started at Koh Preah Island in 2009 with the assistance of Cambodia Rural Development Tours (CRDT). The aim: generate alternative income and protect the critically endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin. Specifically, through providing families other opportunities rather than fishing, that do not damage the area. Ever since, the island has steadily received tourists. Many volunteer groups stay for a few days to help with small development projects such as a small school, water tanks and animal pens. Local NGOs have also assisted with supporting the local hospital and providing solar power for the island.
Soi Lim, is a motivated leader in the community. He teaches at the local school is a the Tourism Manager on the island.
“I started working for the community as a boat driver, taking tourists from Stung Treng to Koh Preah. Now I work with two other people in the community for tourism. We have lots of goals and want to see the community development more. I would really like more people to know about Koh Preah Island and to come to stay at the homestay. That way we could do more to support our community.
I would like to be able to support people with less money if they get sick. Also, it would help with infrastructure projects like building a new bridge or repairing old ones. We also want to buy some bicycles so tourists can cycle around the island. No one speaks English on the island, so I really hope that in the future we can get an English teacher to help the younger generation learn.
Tourism has been really important for the island and it has helped us make connections with many people overseas. Volunteers from Australia helped build a school and a large water tank for the island. We regularly receive tourists who want to support us – and for that I am extremely grateful.”
The Koh Preah Island Homestay is for traveller looking for a remote experience on the Mekong waterways. With only a handful of tourists frequenting the area, Koh Preah offers an authentic slice of Cambodian hospitality. Located on a small island in the middle of the Mekong River, 35km from Stung Treng Town, Koh Preah is a highly bio-diverse area rich in natural resources, rice fields, and stunning Mekong scenery. Koh Preah is also well known for its rice whisky and fish sauce. Both are both produced locally and sold in nearby Stung Treng.
The island offers homestays with local families, delicious home-cooked food, boat trips to see fresh water dolphins, flooded forests or swim on sandy beaches (dry season only). The community offers casual tours of the island also. You can explore the island via foot, or on the back of a motorbike before chilling out in true island style under a tall palm tree.
The Koh Preah Homestay is run by a motivated group of community leaders. Currently three staff manage the tourism on the island and ten families host homestays. Funds go directly into supporting the local community.
The island is accessed by a small ferry – a 4m by 4m wooden barge, big enough for a few motorbikes or bicycles. Where the ferry docks, there is a wooden ramp up a sand dune with a bench and small shop selling cold drinks and supplies.
The island has criss-crossing gravel roads best explored on the back of a motorbike taxi (motodop) or by foot. Motodops are available from the ferry terminal (arrange in advance when booking a homestay).
Koh Preah has 10 homestays, all in family homes. Homestays are equipped with basic mattress, bedding and mosquito net in a wooden Khmer home. Houses are elevated on stilts. Bathrooms are external to the house and are Khmer style (squat toilets and bucket showers).
The island is teaming with little shops selling Khmer noodles, rice and cold drinks. There is also a new coffee shop (Khmer style) near the hospital if you are looking to soak up the café culture on the island. Look for red chairs, chopsticks/spoons and sauce bottles on the table if you are unsure if they serve food.
The island offers private boat trips on small wooden boats to watch for Irrawaddy Dolphins or venture further for a swim on sandy beaches, visit flooded forests or admire river views.
Currently there are no bicycles for hire on the island.
There is limited English on the island, although community members speak enough to arrange activities or transport for you.
Don’t miss your chance to explore the surrounding Mekong waterways by boat. The community
offer boat tours for 2-3 hours to spot Irrawaddy Dolphins, visit flooded forests and swim at sandy beaches nearby (dry season only).
The best way to experience Koh Preah is with a local family. Homestays offer you the chance to make genuine connection with local people and learn about Cambodian culture. Homestays provide delicious home cooked food too.
TOUR THE ISLAND
Spend the day with a local community member to explore what the island has to offer. Learn how rice whisky is made, watch as rice noodles are prepared from scratch and explore the gravel roads of Koh Preah island. For $5, a local guide (Khmer speaking only) can show the island. Alternatively, meander by foot and enjoy friendly interactions with locals who happily wave hello.
SWIM IN THE MEKONG
Take a boat to a nearby sandy beach or go for a dip in the Mekong. The hot days make Koh Preah Island a perfect place for a refreshing dip.
From Stung Treng
Access to The Koh Preah Homestay is by small ferry (1000 riel/0.25c one way) located an hours drive from Stung Treng. Turn off National Road 7 at Red Mountant Road (13.388662,106.0820398) and the ferry dock is another 20 minutes from here. From Stung Treng a direct tuk-tuk costs $20 and takes about one hour to reach the ferry (13.3017992,105.9136956).
Alternatively, hop on a bus to Kratie (arranged with your guest house) and ask to be dropped at the intersection at Mountant Road and National Road 7 for the Koh Preah ferry.
From the ferry drop off on the island, a pre-arranged motodop ($1.25 USD) takes about 5 minutes to reach the otherside of the island and to where the homestays are.
Easy, but pricey
For $80, a private boat can be arranged to pick you up directly from Stung Treng. Boats fit a maximum 20 people and take 1-2 hours.
Your best option, get on a local bus to Stung Treng ($5-$10) and ask to be dropped at the intersection at Mountant Road and National Road 7. From here hail a tuk-tuk or motodop to take you to Koh Preah ferry. Otherwise head further until you reach Aur Pour Moan, a well frequented bus station where all buses coming from Stung Treng and Ratanakiri stop. Here you are a sure to find a tuk tuk or motodop that can get you to the ferry.
Motodops ($2.50 USD) can be arranged from the islands ferry north to Aur Pour Moan. From here hop on a bus west to Stung Treng, East to Ratanakiri or retrace your steps south to Kratie. Buses shouldn’t cost more than $5-$7.
Direct from Koh Preah, private boats can be arrange to head south on the Mekong – although pricey. Boats from Koh Preah to Sambour (close to the Koh Pdao Island Homestay) take 3 and half hours and cost $100 for four people.
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BOOK A VISIT
One of the best ways to support local communities is to book a visit their tourism projects – your holiday booking creates jobs for local people and helps to protect the Cambodian environment. Book now…
Some of the Community-based tourism projects take on short/long-term volunteers to help with teaching English and other activities. Get in touch to find out if this project is one of them. Learn more…
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