While daydreaming about a tropical island getaway can take up most of your trip-planning time, it’s important to take into account the realities of life on an island in the middle of nowhere. The same remoteness that makes Koh Ta Kiev the perfect place to switch off and get away from it all also means no ATMs, no internet, and no real doctors to speak of. So make sure you are fully prepared before you head off to paradise.
There are a few necessities that you won’t be able to find once you get to the island. We highly recommend bringing a flashlight, plenty of sunscreen, mosquito repellent, coconut oil (to keep away sandflies), and a small first aid kit.
Also, stock up on anything else you may require, including condoms, shampoo, earplugs, baby wipes, cortisone cream, antihistamines, painkillers, Immodium, and any other essential medications, plus stick-on bandages and antiseptic and antibiotic ointment in case of any minor cuts and scrapes.
You may be tempted to pack as light as possible and keep the majority of your stuff on the mainland while you head over to Koh Ta Kiev. But bringing a beach towel or a sarong is a good idea. So is preparing for the unexpected when it comes to the weather. The island has its own microclimate, so sometimes the beaches get rocked by unseasonal storms and the nights can get quite chilly. Better to bring a few warm clothes than to spend your island time shivering. And most guesthouses offer luggage storage facilities for a small fee.
Don’t forget to bring a camera, along with some entertainment for long, lazy afternoons. Grab a book from the Idle Hour bookstore in Otres 1 before you head to the island. Pick up a pack of cards and maybe download those new podcasts or albums to listen to as you wander through the jungle
As with all the Cambodian islands, there are no ATMs, banks, or even card machines anywhere to be found on Koh Ta Kiev. Ensure that you have enough cash with you to pay for your boat, food, accommodation, and any activities for the entire duration of your stay.
Most of Koh Ta Kiev’s quiet charm comes from the island’s lack of development. That seems like a blessing, rather than a curse—until you run out of supplies. Although the lack of shops means that your peaceful stay will not be interrupted by beach vendors asking if you want to buy a bracelet or subject yourself to a leg threading, the downside is that you can’t just stop by the store for a bag of chips or a pair of flip-flops.
The island’s resorts do a great job of catering to the tourist trade, with some providing family-style meals served at set times and others offering a variety of local and Western dishes whenever and a la carte. But snacks can be harder to come by. Bars on the island usually sell noodle cups, potato crisps, chocolate bars, and similar snacks when they’re open, but those who suffer from middle-of-the-night munchies or plan to trek through the jungle are well advised to stock up before leaving the mainland. Just make sure all packages are fully sealed to prevent island critters from sniffing out the goodies and getting to them before you do.
Those who love the idea of reconnecting with nature and sleeping under the stars can either hire a tent or hammock on the island or bring their own. Free-camping is not allowed anywhere on the military-owned island, but you can swing by one of the resorts and ask to pitch up there. Generally the charge runs about $3 if you bring your own hammock, or $5 or so to rent one. Check out our guide to Koh Ta Kiev accommodation for all of the options and prices.
Koh Ta Kiev has no electricity grid, and so the island’s resorts draw most of their power through solar panels or generators that are switched on only at certain times in the evening. At most resorts the bar is the only place with power, and then only enough to run the lights, the music, and a blender for the occasional fancy frozen cocktail or fruit shake. There are charging points where people can plug in their phones, tablets and camera batteries, but these are also usually available only at specific hours. Although external battery packs are hard to come by in Sihanoukville, tech-lovers might want to invest in one in order to keep gadgets topped up while on the go.
Most people visit Koh Ta Kiev in order to unplug from the outside world for a couple of days, but if the idea of being disconnected from everything strikes fear into your heart, then you should consider purchasing a local Metfone or Smart SIM before you go. Signal on the island can be sporadic, and the 4G connection isn’t always too fruitful, but you’ll probably be able to grab a bar or two for emergency GPS.
While there are no doctors on the island, most guesthouses have simple medical kits and staff who are trained in basic first aid. An emergency speed-boat medevac to the mainland can be had for approximately $100. Find out more about medical care on the island.
The Idle Hour
Otres 1, outside Greenhouse Effect, Sihanoukville
T: 087 774 206