Coconuts: ✔ Clear Ocean: ✔ Treehouses: ✔ If you’re looking for a quiet island paradise, then look no further than Koh Ta Kiev in Cambodia! Switch off from the rest of the world and enjoy the beautifully rustic and natural surroundings.
We had planned to stay in Cambodia for about a week (NOT ENOUGH TIME!!!) and wanted to escape on a boat to somewhere for a few days. After a lot of research, we decided on booking two nights on Koh Ta Kiev, a tiny island off the coast of Sihanoukville.
If you’re looking for a relaxing and peaceful couple of days then I can’t stress enough how you should book a trip here. If you’re looking for something else, come here anyway and you’ll fall in love with the place.
Most people haven’t actually heard of Koh Ta Kiev. It’s less than 7km squared, and it’s 25km off the coast of Cambodia, so you won’t find it unless you’re searching! The island isn’t your typical southeast Asian destination, as there’s no WiFi, limited power and no shops.
Doesn’t sound appealing? How about eating freshly caught crab, snorkelling in pristine warm waters or trekking through the lush jungle?
Sounding more interesting?? Koh Ta Kiev is probably one of the last places on the southeast Asia backpacking route that is delightfully undisturbed. There are a few but you won’t find any crazy Full Moon Parties or beach sellers here. You can stay in a basic treehouse, or go even further back-to-basics and sleep in a hammock underneath the stars.
When To Visit For The Best Koh Ta Kiev Weather
The island is located off the south coast of Cambodia, so consider booking your trip in line with the best weather in Sihanoukville. The heavy rain tends to fall from June until September. The best months to go are definitely January or February. The rest of the year can be temperamental with rainfall. It can get cold in the evenings, but the daily temperatures average is about 31 degrees Celsius.
How Long To Spend On The Island
It’s not actually uncommon for people to plan to stay 2 or 3 nights and end up spending a week or two. There are also sometimes Workaway options on the island, which mean that you can spend a long time there helping out one of the guesthouses learning new skills and getting to know the local staff.
If you’re just there for a holiday, I’d recommend spending between 2 and 4 nights on Koh Ta Kiev. The main reason for the short stay is that there is very limited power and no internet signal. Some people enjoy this, but I think after a week you could become bored, and that’s not the lasting memory you want of this place!
There are a couple of boat trips that drop you off on the island for the day and pick you up to take you back to Sihanoukville. If you want to experience Koh Ta Kiev but you’re not ready to commit to living off the grid then this is the perfect option for you.
If you visit for the day, bring an overnight bag anyway! You might end up wanting to stay in one of the beach resorts, and they often have last-minute spaces.
What To Bring To Koh Ta Kiev
As Koh Ta Kiev is so remote, there are a couple of things that you should think about packing before jumping on a boat. You won’t be able to nip to the local McDonald’s for a midnight snack, or buy another pair of flip-flops once you’re there so pack carefully! If you can, we recommend leaving most of your stuff in a guesthouse locker on the mainland whilst you’re away. That way, you won’t have to lug all of your luggage on the boat!
There aren’t any ATMs on the island, so whilst we don’t recommend bringing your life savings, take out a chunk of money that you can use to pay for your meals, accommodation and anything extra like drinks, boat tours and kayaks!
Bring some dry snacks like crisps, nuts or popcorn (don’t forget to put them in a sealed bag/box though otherwise, you WILL get night-time visitors! As you’ll be leaving most of your stuff in a cheap guesthouse locker, you can take out anything from a sturdy packing cube or electronics organiser and use that) for those random cravings. The guesthouse on the island serve amazing food but only at set times, so if you miss breakfast, it’s good to have some things to keep you going until past 1pm.
An essential item on Koh Ta Kiev is a bright torch and spare batteries. Remember that there’s limited power on the island that is saved for the bars and restaurants in the evenings, so you’ll need to have your own light to make your way back to wherever you’re sleeping. It’s also handy to have a light to guide you to the toilets in the middle of the night!
Consider bringing a mosquito net too. You’ll most likely be provided with one, but they don’t tend to be the best quality! At least if you have your own, you can be sure of a bite-free sleep.
Sleep beneath the stars in your own hammock!. Some guesthouses let you rent the space between two trees for a couple of nights. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but spending $2 on accommodation isn’t a bad way to backpack Cambodia if you’re on a budget!
When you’re booking your accommodation on the island, the resort will ask you how you’re getting to the island. They each offer a pick-up service and will usually organise a tuk-tuk to get you from your mainland hotel. Make your way to Otres Beach and you’ll be able to jump on a boat for around $13 return. These tickets are open so if you do decide to stay longer you’ll still be able to return to the mainland on the same ticket.
Another option is to take a day tour and get dropped off with the whole group and picked up later. We actually did this and paid $24 for a return ticket for the both of us. Our mainland hotel organised it and a tuk-tuk picked us up in the morning. It took us to the beach to board the boat, along with around 12 others. We didn’t actually realise that we weren’t on a direct boat to the island! The snorkelling and cliff jumping on the way were an added bonus.
It takes around an hour to get there, and the waters weren’t too choppy (speaking as someone who gets bad seasickness, this trip was fine!). The main reason for me recommending to only take a small weekend bag to the island is because there isn’t a great deal of space. If there are a couple of people bringing their whole 60l bags onto the boat then space is taken up quite quickly!
What To Do On Koh Ta Kiev
Koh Ta Kiev is a gorgeous, unspoilt island with limited power and no internet service. That can mean that you don’t have any fun at all whilst you’re here. Or you can embrace it and it can mean that you truly get to enjoy the beautiful nature and rustic atmosphere that you can rarely find anywhere else! You can definitely spend 3 or 4 relaxing nights here and have plenty to do.
You can’t visit a remote island and not get in the sea! Most guesthouses have their own snorkelling equipment that they lend out for free. It won’t be the best quality, and you might have to wait your turn if other people are using it and you’ll have to be considerate with how long you use it for, but free is free! However, you could bring your own snorkelling gear and you’d be entertained for hours.
Be careful of the spiky black sea urchins in the water. They can be poisonous and cause infection. If you are stung, get the spines out straight away, and remember that your travel insurance is there to help!
Exploring the Jungle
The island is small, but you can spend a few hours trekking round through the trees here. Make sure you take plenty of water and cover yourself in sunscreen – here the heat and UV rays are relentless. A sunhat isn’t a bad idea either. There are specific treks around the island that have been marked onto the trees. Ask your guesthouse for a rough outline of the trek and keep an eye out for the relevant coloured markings so you won’t get lost in the middle of the jungle!
Visiting the Fishing Village
The blue trail leads to the fishing village on the opposite side of the island to all of the accommodation. It took us about an hour to get there but we did actually miss a few of the tree markings so had to go back on ourselves once or twice!
Once we arrived, we found shade next to a kitchen and a lady came out and gave everyone a can of Coke. She also tried to ask us if we wanted food by repeating ‘yum yum’ over and over at us, so we repeated it back and hoped for some lunch.
We watched her walk over to the small pier, lift out a net full of live crabs and stroll back into the kitchen. Ten minutes later, those crabs were on our plate covered in the best sauce (like a sweet chilli glaze), along with a large fish we didn’t expect but were very grateful for, and two large bowls of rice.
There were roughly 4 or 5 crabs between TWO OF US and there was plenty of meat to be shared. It was such an amazing lunch, and we gladly paid the lady $4 each. The food is good and it’s not every day that you get your dinner from ocean to plate in less time than it takes to usually order in a restaurant!
Some of the guesthouses offer cheap kayaks to rent, even if you’re not staying there. Expect to pay around $10 or less for equipment, and spend the day paddling around the island and exploring the untouched paradise from the sea!
When the morning pickups are complete, the boats often will take you around the island to explore. You can cliff jump from Elephant Rock or just snorkel further out into the ocean. Some boats take you out in the evening to spot the incredible glowing plankton that illuminates the water. Don’t swim with them because it can disturb the night-time hunting of the sea creatures, but take a good camera and snap away!
Some of the resorts will have fishing equipment that they will let you use. A local can teach you some spearfishing skills and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch dinner and help cook it later!
Book Exchange and Board Games
If you want a relaxing afternoon, pick a good book from your guesthouse and spend the day sunbathing. There are always decent reads that other travellers have left behind, but make sure you finish it before you leave! There are also usually boards games and cards that you are free to use throughout the day too. Just don’t hog them! Invite other guests to play and make new friends at the same time.
Koh Ta Kiev Accommodation Options
There are limited cheap Koh Ta Kiev island hotels so it’s probably best to book ahead if you don’t want to be turned away. The guesthouses are Coral Beach, Ten103 Treehouse Bay, Kactus, Koh Ta Kiev Bungalow Resort and The Last Point.
We stayed at Coral Beach, a less than ten-minute walk from Long Beach which is where we were dropped off. Some people were staying in hammocks but that’s a bit too rustic for me, plus there’s no privacy. Anyway, our tree bungalow was super basic but we spent a limited amount of time inside.
The bed was comfortable and had a mosquito net. If you’re really fussy then maybe bring your own because ours did have a fair amount of holes in it. A huge tarpaulin sheet covered the entrance but you could roll it back up during the day.
The bar was fun – there were board games and darts, as well as a cute little treehouse area that gave you INCREDIBLE sunset views. The staff were friendly and helpful (but also read the note below) and the food was delicious and fresh.
The two ‘bathrooms’ offered a bucket flush toilet (not too bad) and a bucket shower (weird and awkward = mental hair for the entire stay. If anyone successfully washes their hair in a bucket shower then please share your tips!).
They were very clean although one thing I did note was that there was no hand soap. I understand that they’re not going to offer free toiletries but hand soap is a different matter altogether. We used our own hand sanitiser each time but I just questioned what the chefs were using??
Overall, Coral Beach was a great place to stay on Koh Ta Kiev. We would definitely stay here again – for £10 a night on this amazing island, who wouldn’t!?
Getting Around Koh Ta Kiev
To put it simply, to get around Koh Ta Kiev you have to walk. There are no scooters, no tuk-tuks and not even any bikes on the island. There aren’t any real roads. You can take a boat around the island to get to the fishing village or the mango farm on the west side of the island, but if you want to stick to land then get your walking shoes on!
Safety On The Island
As there are limited people on Koh Ta Kiev, and no way to escape the island, the level of crime is probably quite low. There aren’t any safety boxes like you’d find in hotels on the mainland, but most people aren’t here to steal.
Don’t walk into the jungle in the middle of the night, obviously. That probably goes without saying for anywhere in the world!
There are some critters that might not be too friendly too, so keep food stored well and be careful of where you walk. The sea has some nasties too. Just be aware of your surroundings and whatever you do, don’t step on a sea urchin!
Remember to bring your first aid kit and any medications that you might specifically need. It’s an hour’s boat ride to the mainland and even then the hospitals aren’t nearly as good as those in Phnom Penh.
Food and Drink On Koh Ta Kiev
Food in Cambodia was great, but on Koh Ta Kiev we didn’t get many traditional local meals. Instead, we ate homemade French dishes, which were absolutely incredible.
The portions were usually massive and at $6-7 for lunch or dinner each, were very expensive but we expected that whilst on a remote the island. You also could only eat at the set times they provided, so if you get peckish in between meals then bring some snacks!
There are bars at the guesthouses, so don’t worry!. Beer actually tends to be quite cheap – you can get a bottle for $1 and some places do Happy Hours. Wine and spirits are a little more expensive but that’s to be expected in Cambodia! If you want some sunset drinks but you’re on a budget, bring your own. I’m not entirely sure that it’s allowed but if you sit on the beach with a water bottle and buy a juice every now and again, I’m sure you can have a few!
Unfortunately, the absinthe distillery relocated to the mainland recently. We were was extremely upset about this as we didn’t have time to visit it when we got back. I did manage to sample some of the last of the island’s supply though and my God it’s strong!
I chose the pink one and watched as the girl behind the bar set it on fire and dripped sugar into it. We would suggest visiting the distillery in Sihanoukville to try the different types!
Power And Internet On The Island
Power is scarce on the island, and the internet is pretty much non-existent. There aren’t any power lines to Koh Ta Kiev so it’s either solar or from a generator. The power usually comes on from around 6pm until 10pm when the bar needs light. You might be able to ask the staff to charge your Kindle or your phone, but don’t count on it! If you have bought a local sim card, you might get spotty internet but don’t rely on it.
One last thing….
Everybody was high during our trip – both the staff and a lot of the guests! This meant slightly annoying but also slightly funny slow customer service and a stronggggg smell of weed drifting throughout the bar.
We’re not into it but we’re not about to complain. We had already read a couple of reviews that mentioned it so just accepted that people liked to escape reality and live on an island for a few months whilst they ‘found themselves’.
We also made friends with a honeymooning couple, who told us a hilarious story about how they had bought some cookies and got so high they couldn’t feel their legs and slept for 48 hours. Not my idea of fun but it’s one to tell the grandchildren, right?!
Frequently Asked Questions
How much spending money will I need on Koh Ta Kiev?
Usually, the answer to this question is ‘how long is a piece of string’!? However, there really isn’t much to spend your money on here, so cover your accommodation and bring a few days extra just in case you decide to stay. Meals range from around $5 – $7 each, and a beer will set you back around a dollar. You could spend around $50 per night if you’re a couple, less if you’re on your own.
Can I buy toiletries on the island?
There aren’t any shops on the island, so make sure you bring any toiletries you need with you!
Is there a doctor on Koh Ta Kiev?
No. There will probably be some first aid trained staff on the island but that’s it. If you need a doctor, you’ll have to go back to the mainland.
Can I sleep on the beach on Koh Ta Kiev?
There are tents to hire from some of the guesthouses. They’re cheap but you’ll be exposed to more bugs and critters!
Have you ever been to Koh Ta Kiev? Share your experiences below!
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