Warm hospitality at a peaceful island home on the Mekong River.
Koh Trong Island is a peaceful island escape just across the Mekong river from Kratie town. Known locally as the ‘market garden’ of Kratie, Koh Trong Island is home to fruit orchards, friendly locals and a superb, relaxed island vibe. Easily accessible, the island is only a five-minute ferry ride from Kratie town. Stay overnight in a well-equipped homestay or spend the day exploring by bicycle or moto. Picture traditional ox-carts towing farmers and their freshly picked produce along sandy roads lined with tall palm trees. Koh Trong Island is a bite-sized taste of Cambodia – a perfect location to relax and unwind.
Koh Trong Island is home to Koh Trong Community based tourism Project, a locally run initiative that supports the livelihoods of local people and works towards preserving the natural habitat and rural farming practices. The project is managed by local people with support from the local government and civil society organisations. The project has a team of eleven staff and five homestays.
From Chin Chom Nap, Homestay Host, Koh Trong Island:
“I grew up on Koh Trong Island when I was young, then moved to Kratie town where my husband worked. Recently, I decided to move back to Koh Trong Island with my family of four and I am very happy I did. Even though it is a small distance away, the peace, quiet and opportunities through tourism have helped myself and my family. The other four homestays have been hosting guests since 2008, when the community-based eco-tourism project was set up on the island. We (our family) started at the end of 2018 and it has given me a sense of purpose, I now have employment. Although I can only speak a little English I hope that in the future more families like myself can open there homes to tourists too.”
There is less rubbish on the island than other places in Cambodia, as local families work together to make sure to keep the area clean and safe. However, the biggest impact the project has on employment. Money from bicycle hire and homestays helps the wider community, not just individual families. A small percentage from homestay fees go back to a community fund which is used for emergencies, community support and local council. By staying at Koh Trong Island you can also choose to support the nature on our island. Many tourists choose to plant trees which helps to keep the area green and beautiful.
Koh Trong Island offers a window into rural Cambodian life. The island is home to 420 families forming two separate villages. Most households work as small-scale farmers selling their produce in nearby Kratie whilst some, living in the floating village on the western side of the island, rely on fishing for income.
Tourism is a small scale here, with a team of eleven employed to manage the community-based tourism project. Together they hire out bicycles and motorbikes and provide motodops (moto taxis). The island also has five families who host guests. Homestays are spread across the island, accessed by a paved pathway that loops the perimeter of Koh Trong.
Koh Trong Island was established with the assistance of local government, and offers tourists the chance to explore rural Cambodian life. A 9km pathway loops the entire island and takes you past small farm plots, palm trees, and wooden huts filled with feed for cows grazing. Watch for farmers towing produce or school children cycling to school. Warm hospitality abounds on the island.
From Kratie Ferry Dock, Koh Rong is a five-minute ferry ride across the Mekong. Although staff speak only a little English, they are happy to help. Head straight from the ferry and up the sand dune to reach the tourist office where you can hire bicycles, motos or arrange homestays and lunch (note – booking in advance recommended as this project has a limited capacity, so without booking you might find difficult to book your place).
Koh Trong Island is best explored by bicycle or motorbike (Link to product). Motorbikes (Auto or Semi-Auto) or bicycles can be hired from the tourist information office located 200ms up the sandbank from where the ferry docks.
There a few tuk tuk’s on the island and can be hired to tour the perimeter of the island or to reach your accommodation. Alternatively choose an ox-cart (link to product), used most frequently for transporting goods from the farm but doubles as a mode of transport on Koh Trong Island.
A 9km paved pathway loop’s the perimeter of the island and takes you past rice fields, fruit orchards, small forest and wooden Khmer houses. There is a sign with a handy map of the island at the tourist information office. Note however that the northern and southern tips of the island are sandy and less defined. Next to the Vietnamese Pagoda, at the southernmost end of the island, the pathway disappears. Loop back to the tourist office and take a left. This way you can explore the western side easily.
There are five homestays on the island in traditional Khmer houses elevated on stilts. They offer western style comfort – with western toilets, showers, fan and mosquito nets. Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be prepared to dietary requirements. Homestay hosts speak a little English.
Koh Rong Island has numerous side-of-the-road shops offering traditional Khmer fair- little businesses set up by local families often using produce picked from their backyard gardens. Early morning is best for Nom Ban Chok (traditional Khmer noodles), Khmer coffee or palm juice.
If you are just stopping for the day traditional Khmer lunch (link to product) can be arranged at one of the homestays (make sure to book in advance).
Although not directly part of community tourism on Koh Trong, there is one guesthouse and resort (with pool) on the Island too. Both offer dining options also.
Koh Trong is best explored in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky and it is less hot than during the lunch-time. Choose your preferred mode of transport before setting off to explore the island perimeter.
EXPLORE THE ISLAND
Circling the 9km pathway around the island is a must! Hire a bicycle, motorbike or opt for a guided tuk-tuk, horse-cart or ox-cart (or cow!). Depending on your stops and method, a loop of the island will take you about 1.5-2.5 hours. We recommend going slow to allow for chance encounters with friendly locals going about their daily lives.
At the southernmost end of the island is the Vietnamese Pagoda (one of three on the island) which looks across the Mekong River to the Kratie mainland. From here, look across to the Western side of the island and you’ll see a small floating village. Locals here are known to offer impromptu boat rides to see the village. Although not regulated, small payment ($2.50-$5) is recommended for this service. Both the pagoda and the village are odes to the island’s Vietnamese influence.
At the northern end of the island don’t miss Wat Tay Param, a small, peaceful pagoda nestled amongst large trees. Enter through the archway and continue walking straight behind the buildings. Here you’ll find part of the island’s ‘Regeneration Project’. Trees are planted by generous travellers, helping to restore natural spaces on the island. Walk to the eastern side of the pagoda complex and look up. Bats have made their home here and can be seen circling in the trees.
Don’t miss Koh Trong’s impressive a 200 hundred-year-old tree: Dam Rowkar located at the northern end of the island.
HOMESTAY AT KOH TRONG ISLAND
Staying overnight in a community homestay is highly recommended to experience the full weight of Koh Trong’s gentle aura. Warm hospitality is a given on Koh Trong and the homestay’s do not disappoint. Friendly families offer private and shared rooms in wooden style Khmer houses equipped with modern style facilities. A homestay can be arranged for short overnight stays or can act as a base for longer stays and exploring more of what the Mekong River has to offer. Homestay’s offer a lunch option (link to product) also for those only spending a day on the island.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can opt for an ox, cow or horse lead cart to take you around the island together with a local community member (Khmer speaking only). Tours are 2-3 hours.
Many families from Kratie mainland visit Koh Trong for a swim in the Mekong river. Where the ferries dock, there are 20-30 wooden shelters and hammocks. Purchase a cold drink and do as locals do: relax and soak up the vibes of island life.
Kratie to the island
Koh Trong Island is located conveniently close to Kratie town and is only a five-minute ferry ride across the Mekong river. Catch the ferry from Kratie Boat Port (corner of Rd No. 8 and Preah Sisowath Quay). Ferry’s are every 20-30minutes and operate from 6am to 6pm. Cost per person is a 1000 riel (0.25c)/2000 riel (50c) with/without bicycle. Note ferry only leaves when they are reasonably full, so the average waiting time is around 20-30mins.
A Moto-dop (moto taxi) will cost you $1 from Koh Trong ferry to your homestay accommodation on the island.
Whilst on the island, bicycles can be hired from the tourist information office for $1-$2 per day or motorbikes for $5 per day.
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. Or visit bookmebus.com to book your journey directly.
From Siem Reap Kratie, buses depart in the morning and take between 7- 8hours.
Koh Trong Island Kratie
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