Last Update: July 2021
Phnom Penh can be a hectic place. Sure, it’s nice to indulge in city pleasures every once in a while on your travels. However, if you live in Phnom Penh 24/7 like I did, there are times that the city can really get to you. Especially on one of those sweltering hot and dusty days it’s really refreshing to get out of the city and into nature if only for a few hours. So why not bicycle your way to Silk Island Phnom Penh?!
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Silk Island Phnom Penh
Silk Island, Phnom Penh (Koh Dach in Khmer) is a tiny 30km2 Island in the mighty Mekong river just before the confluence with the Tonle Sap river. The close proximity to the Cambodian capital makes Silk Island, Phnom Penh the perfect getaway to escape the city.
The Island derives its name from the traditional silk weaving that it is known for. Though currently in decline, it’s still practiced by a few families on almost antique looms under their houses. If you want to pick up an authentic Cambodian krama (checkered scarf) or sampot (sarong) to bring home, this is the place to get it.
But today we didn’t come here to shop!
How to get there
It’s easy to arrange a tuk-tuk in Phnom Penh for a half day ($15-$20) to venture out to the Island. Another, more adventurous way is to join a bicycle tour, or better yet, just rent a bicycle and go it your own.
Silk Island Phnom Penh by tour
There are a few tour operators with bicycle tours to Silk Island, Phnom Penh. In my opinion most of them are overpriced and the quality of the bicycles is not quite up to par. However, the one positive exception is this tour from Grashopper Adventures.
While their $45 half day tour price including lunch is still on the expensive side, their material is in excellent condition. Moreover, the guides are professional and speak English very well.
If you want to go it your own, Grasshopper also rents out bikes. A very well maintained and sturdy all-terrain bike with suspension, smooth gears and reliable brakes can be rented for as low as $5-$8 per day.
Update July 2021: Unfortunately Grasshopper has temporarily suspended bicycle tours in Cambodia until further notice. You can however still rent a bike here and visit Silk Island by bicycle on your own.
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Silk Island Phnom Penh on your own
To reach Silk Island Phnom Penh by yourself from the city center follow the riverside up North along the Preah Sisowath Quay. The Grasshopper shop is conveniently close to the riverside so you won’t have any problems navigating.
Cross the Japanese Friendship Bridge over the Tonle Sap river and then follow National Road 6 until you reach the ferry access road. From Grasshopper to the ferry is about 7.5km of asphalt road and the 10 minute ferry will cost you a whopping Khr.1000 ($0.25).
And here we are, welcome to Silk Island Phnom Penh!
Koh Oknha Tey
The ferry dropped you off at the Southern tip of Silk Island (Koh Dach). If you want to see more of the silk weaving then take the first right on the road leading away from the ferry. Cross the old metal bridge that leads to another tiny Island adjacent to Silk Island, that goes by the name “Koh Oknha Tey”.
There’s a small village where you can learn all about silk from silkworm breeding to weaving. But hey, I thought we came here to do some cycling so let’s skip the silk for now and start pedaling!
Find tours in Phnom Penh
So, don’t cross the old metal bridge to Koh Oknha Tey, but continue to go North on Silk Island on the Eastern road. You could of course follow the new concrete road that goes all the way up North. Do yourself a favor, you’re on an all-terrain bike after all. Challenge the unpaved roads on the left and parallel to the concrete road.
If you’re up for it, try some of the small dirt tracks as well. This way, you will experience a true Cambodian rural landscape. Immerse yourself in an abundance of green with rice paddies, corn fields and banana trees.
At the very Northern tip is Koh Dach beach resort where you can unwind in huts overlooking the Mekong river. It’s just $1 or for free if you buy lunch there. You can stay to watch the sunset, just make sure you make it back to the last ferry at 8:30pm.
Next, pedal your way back to the Southern tip along the Western road of the Island. Enjoy the breeze and feast your eyes on the scenery of simple life in the countryside.
Cute kids curiously looking you over like you’re the weirdest person they ever came across. Water buffalo roaming about everywhere. Asian cows herded by their owners and women picking fruit in their local attire. What a great way to disconnect from the frantic city!
Note!: Healthcare in Cambodia is hopelessly underdeveloped. Any serious ailment or injury will most likely involve medical transport to Bangkok or Singapore costing a fortune to be paid upfront. Never leave home without travel insurance. Read about travel insurance, or get an instant, non-committal quote.
Have you ever joined a bicycle tour in or around a big city? Leave us a comment below to tell us all what you (dis)liked about it.