A bit tired of the chaos and city pace of Phnom Penh? A short ride from it there’s a peaceful and relaxing island on the Mekong where you can experience a countryside lifestyle and genuine people. Rent a bicycle and come explore Koh Dach, also known as Silk Island due to its silk farms and weaving tradition.
Welcome to Koh Dach.
It’s just twelve kilometers long but there’s a lot to cycle on this island, a perfect day getaway from Phnom Penh filled with farms and little paths to go along the river, fresh breeze on your face and smiley children saying hello on the way. For starting go to the north of Phnom Penh and cross the Japanese Friendship bridge to the other side of Tonle Sap river, reaching a roundabout where you have to continue straight. Just follow the signs of the national road number 6 to regions in the north such as Siem Reap. After around three kilometers turn in one of the small lanes to your right, where you can start asking to locals about the ferry. After you find the pier, pay the ticket (700 riels for a person and bicycle) and get on board, the ferry fills up quickly and the journey itself it’s just a couple of minutes.
When you reach the island have in mind that it’s actually composed by two different but very close islands. Now you are in the southern tip of one of them, the bigger one, and have in front of you a steel bridge that leads to the other one – take some time to explore both. Some of the places to visit are a pagoda, a small beach, some silk farms and houses where local ladies weave beautiful textiles such as the krama, the typical Cambodian scarf and a great and authentic gift for you to bring back home. You can just cycle around and look below the houses (that are usually build on stilts to allow some space for the families to hang out in) to find women using a loom. Just stop by and chat with them, see their products and buy something in case you want support the tradition and local economy. One of them is Molly, a very friendly lady who makes beautiful silk fabrics, kramas and other clothes:
Work in progress.
If you want to visit a silk farm and learn about the whole process of producing the worms and extracting the silk from them, visit the Community Silk Island (near the ferry there is a big billboard with a map of the two islands where you can see its location) where you pay one dollar for entrance and will have a guide explaining step by step the production process.
In case you are thinking to stay for the night, there are different accommodation options for diverse budgets, from Le Kroma Villa or Villa Koh Dach Guesthouse for more comfort and higher rate, to simple homestays with local families around the island for about 5 dollars per night. Also there’s a pool in Le Kroma Villa where you can pay a couple of bucks to go swim and hang out.
While cycling around the island try to spot some of these kind of artistic sculptures with traditional materials.
If you are staying some days in Phnom Penh and want to experience an authentic and quiet place but still near the busy capital, then Koh Dach is perfect for you. With the advantage of learning more about the Khmer tradition of silk weaving, or wasn’t this cute place known in english as the Silk Island!