Koh Tonsay, Cambodia

Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), Cambodia – Travel Guide

Koh Tonsay, pronounced “Koh Tonsai”, is the most famous of all the islands floating off of Cambodia’s crab capital, Kep. Nicknamed Rabbit Island due to its shape (nope, we don’t see it either), it is the most popular day trip from this part of the mainland. 

While most only spend a few hours on the island’s shores, Koh Tonsay is well worth spending longer – especially if you are looking for a rustic beach experience that has yet to be spoilt by large infrastructure projects. Beware though, development is coming.

If you want a slice of the pie before the party arrives, this guide to Cambodia’s Koh Tonsay will tell you everything you need to know about this island, from getting there and away to where to stay and what to do. 

Koh Tonsay, Cambodia – Backpacking Guide

Rabbit Island Map & Resources

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Is Koh Tonsay for Me? 🤔

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Koh Tonsay is just a smaller version of Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem. Rabbit Island is still very rustic. There is no WiFi, electricity is only available for around four to six hours a day and the accommodation is super basic. You’ll even have to flush your own toilet! Unlike some of Cambodia’s larger islands, you won’t find spas, obnoxiously loud music (no electricity, remember?) or bougie accommodation. While it’s great for those seeking a digital detox in a beautiful setting, Rabbit Island probably isn’t for you if you can’t handle living simply. 

Best Time to Visit Koh Tonsay

November to January mark the peak season for tourism in Koh Tonsay. During this time, the days are hot and rain is uncommon. Bring suncream! The sea is a comfortable temperature for swimming year-round and tends to be quite calm. However, you should watch out for the boats along the main beachfront.

Where to Stay in Koh Tonsay, Cambodia

The main strip on Koh Tonsay where the boats arrive and depart is where all the accommodation is located. These businesses are usually family-run and very few are available to book in advance. Don’t expect any kind of luxury here – no-frills bungalows and tents on the beach are all that’s on offer. 

Basic bungalow Rabbit Island
Basic accommodation is all that is available on Koh Tonsay.

If you are arriving without a reservation, it is recommended you first get some quotes and see the accommodations that each place offers. From there you can take your pick and potentially haggle for the best price. 

Top Accommodation in Koh Tonsay

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Khim Vouch Iay Bungalows

One of the few accommodation options available to reserve in advance, these bungalows currently sit at the western end of the main strip (turn right when you get off the boat). They are basic yet comfortable, offering western-style private bathrooms (manual toilet flush), cold showers and mosquito nets.

Khim Vouch ay Bungalows
You can make a reservation at Khim Vouch Iay Bungalows in advance.

Yea Orm Bungalows

Located very close to the beach departure point are the locally-run Yea Orm Bungalows. As well as accommodation, they also have a family-run restaurant which serves a mix of Western and Khmer foods. It is one of the cheapest offerings on the island but is very basic. 

Fat Rabbit Beach Resort

A backpacker favourite, the bright and colourful Fat Rabbit Bungalows immediately stand out along the seafront. Also possible to book online in advance, the bungalows are known for their prime location and the friendly staff that take care of the resort. Much like everywhere else on the island, expect basic yet comfortable. 

Fat Rabbit Bungalows
The very colourful bungalows at Fat Rabbit Resort.

Good to Know!

Electricity is usually only available between the hours of 6-10 pm (though it can stay on later than this) and WiFi is non-existent. Despite this, you will likely have a phone signal – make sure you have already picked up a Cambodian SIM card. Cellcard is a good all-round option across the country. 

Things to Do in Koh Tonsay, Cambodia

1. Chill on the Beach

Beachfront Rabbit Island
The main beachfront on Rabbit Island.

Plonk your bum on one of the many sun loungers, open your book and get ready to relax! Most restaurants will let you use their loungers free of charge provided you’re happy to buy the odd drink. While the loungers aren’t the most comfortable – cushions seem to be a rarity here – it is better than laying on the sand close to the trees where there are lots of ants. 

If you’re looking for a more secluded spot, head west of the main drag and past the new pier that is being constructed. There is a quiet stretch of sand here which you can enjoy. 

Beaches are Meant for Waves, Not Waste… 

Before visiting Rabbit Island, I saw a lot of stuff online about how it was no longer worth visiting because it was so dirty. I didn’t find this to be true at all! The local businesses along the main strip work hard to keep their section of the beach clean and you usually don’t have to search too hard for a bin. While other areas of the island do have a trash issue, it is apparent from the language on the washed-up plastic bottles that this isn’t all from the tourists and locals on Rabbit Island. As with any island, Koh Tonsay has to contend with its own rubbish plus the trash of its neighbours. Do your bit and clean up what you can. 
Litter on Kon Tonsay
Some of the trash washed up ashore Koh Tonsay.

2. Walk Around the Island

For the more intrepid, there is a walking trail which loops around the island. It takes around two hours in total and begins from the west side of the beachfront where the new pier is being constructed. 

I read that some of the locals will try and make the path less obvious by blocking it with fallen branches. This is apparently to encourage tourists to take boat trips instead. While I can’t say with certainty that this is going on, I did stumble across a couple of sections of trail which looked suspiciously like they were blocked on purpose. 

Sheree Hooker – Editor at South East Asia Backpacker.

The majority of the trail is fairly easy to follow, however, the northern section does get rather confusing. Always stick to well-beaten trails when hiking in Cambodia and make sure to use a tracking app like maps.me to avoid getting lost. Before starting the trek, it is worth asking a local for directions but as the English level spoken on the island is fairly basic, you may not get the detailed response you hoped. 

Trekking around the island
It takes around two hours to hike around the island.

The locals told us that there are plenty of snakes around and we even saw one on our trek. When hiking in areas with potentially dangerous wildlife, always make your footsteps loud to scare away wildlife and make sure to watch where you’re walking – just in case! 

3. Do a Boat Trip

All along the beachfront, you will signs offering boat trips. These take visitors to different spots on Rabbit Island and also to the surrounding islands. Koh Pos, known as Snake Island, is around 30 minutes from Koh Tonsay and Koh Svay, known as Mango Island is also routinely visited. 

Local man on boat
Locals offer fishing boat trips to tourists.

Snorkelling can also be incorporated into your boat trip of choice, just make sure to ask before you set off. If you fancy the idea of getting out on a boat but would prefer a less touristy experience, opt for one of the fishing trips on offer. You may even get to tuck into your catch once you return if someone is happy to grill it up!

4. Enjoy a Cocktail or Coconut

Freshly hacked coconuts line the beaches and offer a refreshing pick-me-up, especially if you have just taken on the two-hour trek around the island. Coconuts cost around a dollar each but bear in mind that they won’t always be cold – the only fridges on offer in Koh Tonsay are big cool boxes full of ice! 

A couple of chilled coconuts!

A range of cocktails is available on the beachfront, ranging from $3-4USD. Cans of local beer start at around $0.75, making this a great place to enjoy a tipple in the sun. 

5. Watch the Sunset

Kep is known for its amazing sunsets and Rabbit Island is no different. The main beach faces northwest, making it a good spot to catch the vibrant hues of sunset. Remember your mosquito repellent – they are pretty fierce on the islands!

Sunset on Koh Tonsay
Another beautiful sunset on Koh Tonsay.

6. Get a Massage 

There are a couple of massage parlours set up along the beach – think wooden shack complete with pillow while you listen to the waves lapping at the shore. They offer a limited range of services for a good price (starting at around $5USD). This is a great way to unwind after a few demanding days spent trekking in Kep National Park

Massage sign
Signs for massage services line the main beach.

7. Swim with Bioluminescent Plankton 

During my time on Rabbit Island, I spoke to a couple of other travellers who said they had ventured out for a nighttime swim to experience the bioluminescence. I didn’t try this (having just done so on Koh Rong) but if you want to experience it, make sure you wait until the power is out. Dark conditions are essential for witnessing this natural phenomenon.

Food and Drink in Koh Tonsay, Cambodia 

As Koh Tonsay is an island, the best food comes in the form of freshly caught seafood. Restaurants line the beachfront, offering undercover restaurant-style seating and beachfront al fresco dining. To minimise disruption from flies, opt for a breezy beach spot. 

Spring rolls
Fresh and tasty spring rolls!

In all honesty, it doesn’t really matter where you eat along the main beachfront because your food could come from any of the restaurants. Most places have the same menu and if they have run out of something, they’ll just get another restaurant to serve you. Be aware that this means you may not get exactly what you ordered – menus are more like guidelines than hard and fast offerings. 

Getting Around Koh Tonsay, Cambodia

At present, there are no paved roads on Koh Tonsay. However, there are dirt tracks which could be navigated by scooters. Despite this, there are none available to rent. 

The only way to get around the island is on foot (always stick to beaten tracks in Cambodia because of landmines) and by boat. Several of the beachfront businesses offer boat trips around the island. 

Walking along the beach
It’s easy to get around the island on foot.

How to Get to Koh Tonsay, Cambodia

Good to Know! 

Despite what maps.me might lead you to believe, there is currently no pier on Rabbit Island (although there is one in construction). This means guests will need to wade through the shallows to get to the shore. Wear flip-flops and shorts!

The boats for Koh Tonsay depart from Kep pier. The only shared service boats leave at 9 am each day and cost $10USD per person for a return ticket. This is essentially an open return, meaning you can jump on the return boat several days after you arrive if need be! Don’t misplace your ticket! The journey takes around 30 minutes. 

If you arrive at the pier after 9 am, you will need to charter a private boat to the island. These cost around $25USD return which often works out cheaper if you are travelling as a family or group. Be aware, you can only get six international travellers on a chartered boat.

Boat to Rabbit Island
On board the boat to Rabbit Island from Kep.

The boat schedules from Koh Tonsay to Kep can change but usually, there are two in the morning, departing from the beach between 7-8 am and between 10 am-12 pm and a final afternoon boat departing around 4 pm. 

Much like the way there, there is also the option to charter a private boat if you would prefer to leave at a different time. Always check with your accommodation on Rabbit Island for the most up-to-date schedules. 

Where to Go Next: 

Kep: Many travellers overlook Cambodia’s crab capital but it is a wonderful place to stop for a fresh seafood dinner. For the local speciality, make sure you try steamed crab with Kampot pepper – delicious! 

Kampot: Just an hour away by bus and boat lies the traveller favourite of Kampot. Home to the mysterious Bokor National Park plus a myriad of pepper plantations, Kampot is a great place to spend a few days. And its big expat scene means all the home comforts you’re craving are just a (potentially hefty) price tag away!

Phu Quoc: The Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc is a stone’s throw from Koh Tonsay and plenty of people cross into Vietnam from the Kep area. First, you’ll need to cross the border and then head to Ha Tien (make sure you arrive no later than 12.30 pm to bag a ticket on the 1 pm ferry). The journey to the island by boat takes around one and a half hours. 

Sheree Hooker | Editor @ South East Asia Backpacker + Winging The World

Sheree is the awkward British wanderluster behind Winging The World, a blog designed to show that even the most useless of us can travel. Follow Sheree’s adventures as she blunders around the globe, falling into squat toilets, getting into cars with machete men and running away from angry peacocks. In recent years, Sheree has also taken on the role of editor at South East Asia Backpacker.

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