One of the prettiest places we’ve visited in Cambodia, Koh Trong is worth taking a slow morning or afternoon over for a chance to meander through litter-free, picture-perfect villages, maybe catch a swim off the beach on the west side, and enjoy a slice of peaceful, rural Cambodian life, with no chance of being blown over by a Lexus.
The ferry runs from below Jasmine Boat restaurant and leaves at regular intervals all day, every day, until 18:30. It costs 1,000 riel per person each way. You can bring a bike over for an additional 500 riel, but really shouldn’t bother as you can hire them on the island for $1 to $2.
When you arrive, the top of the walkway off the beach brings you directly to the Community Based Tourism Centre. Here you can hire your bicycles, book your homestay if you wish, and pick up a coconut.
The nine-kilometre trail around the island has been given a narrow concrete path in many places. We’re still idiotic enough to rue this, though imagine the locals must be thrilled, particularly during rainy season. It doesn’t impair the pleasure of the journey though, and you’ll probably be grateful too if you happen to hire one of the $1 bikes.
Because it really is beautiful. The scenery is lush, and unspoilt, with a few villages, grazing cows, and smiling kids around the perimeter and fluorescent rice paddies in the centre.
Among other points of interest, 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.
You can watch the sunset from the island’s western banks, but be sure to arrange transport back ahead of time since the last scheduled ferry leaves promptly at 18:30 — swimming back is not recommended — especially if you have a bicycle with you.
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 — Koh Trong Cafe — is run by a beautiful family who were incredibly welcoming.
If you don’t want to cycle around, you can check out taking a cow cart ($15), or a horse cart ($10) around for a thoroughly pastoral experience.
Several NGOs organise homestays in some of the villages as well as in Koh Trong — they can be contacted through their web sites if you plan ahead, and CRDT has their office at Le Tonle guesthouse. For something a little more luxurious, check out Arun Mekong or Rajabori Villas. The latter has a pool, which is open to non-guests for a $5 fee.