Mekong Islands, Phnom Penh - review by Rusty Compass
Phnom Penh | see and do guide

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Mekong Islands, Phnom Penh

| 16 Mar 2015
Our rating
16 Mar 2015

Silk Island day trips are a convenient way to experience some Cambodian village life close by Phnom Penh.

Note: The information provided in this review was correct at time of publishing but may change. For final clarification please check with the relevant service


A half-day exploring islands of the Mekong River including Silk Island (aka Koh Dach) is a nice way to get a taste of  Cambodian rural life without travelling far out of the capital, Phnom Penh. And you can visit the island either independently by tuk-tuk or bicycle, or you can book an organised tour.

The “silk” aspect of Silk Island is a little overblown - as many travellers have noted before us. But you’ll enjoy the traditional houses, their silkworm farming and weaving - especially if you haven’t seen this stuff before.

The real fun of the trip though is getting a look at rural life and travelling along roads that are mostly free of traffic through rice paddies, orchards and vegetable gardens. Jumping on and off various rusty old local ferries is also interesting.

The cycling was easy and enjoyable though I was disappointed the day started around 8.30, which meant we were cycling in the countryside in the morning heat when the light was least favourable for photography. It might be worth organising a private tour and leaving at 6.00AM or 6.30 or 2PM in the afternoon. That way you’ll benefit from much better light - and the risk of a spectacular afternoon storm in the wet season.

If you’re cycling independently, it’ll definitely be worth starting early or in the afternoon.

A highlight of our tour was the knowledge and good-humour of the guide - though the bikes, helmets and lunch were all good too. The guide knew his way around and was able to provide an introduction to Phnom Penh, Cambodia as well as things we encountered along the ride.

The group was small ensuring the logistics worked smoothly.

If you do the cycle independently, you’ll probably get lost a few times but you’ll be fine with a GPS. You can head straight to the island or make a longer ride of it by taking a ferry to the opposite bank of the Mekong. These local ferries leave from the southern end of town past the Naga World Casino.

All the tuk-tuks around Phnom Penh's tourist area seem to offer Silk Island tours so this is also an otion. It might be better to use a trusted tuk-tuk for a trip like this.

One other thing worth noting is that if you’re travelling in the depths of the dry season, (January to April) as we did, it can be a very dusty experience. In the wet it’s likely to be a muddy experience - but I think I’d prefer the rich green rice fields and some mud.

Rusty Compass reviews are always independent and we believe in full disclosure. We travelled with Grasshopper Adventures and paid our way (we received a small travel industry discount). Usual price is $39USD. We paid 28USD.

Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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