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
Is Koh Tonsay for Me? 🤔
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.
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
Disclosure: Some links on this page are affiliate links. We always write our articles before checking if affiliate links are available.
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.
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.
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.
Good to Know!
Things to Do in Koh Tonsay, Cambodia
1. Chill on the Beach
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…
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
How to Get to Koh Tonsay, Cambodia
Good to Know!
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.
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.