This post was written in Cambodia, 2011.
Getting to Koh Thmei (New Island in Khmer) is something of an adventure – jumping off the bus between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, climbing onto the back of a motorbike to drive through a local fishing village, waiting for a boat surrounded by stray dogs and curious children. Once on the boat, however, the Koh Thmei experience settles into something much more relaxed. Lapping waves, a cool breeze, and nothing to do but stare lazily at the horizon.
Koh Thmei is a small island in the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia. A portion of the island has been turned into a small resort by a friendly couple from Germany. The resort consists of a few bungalows (with private bathrooms) and a restaurant. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and serves wonderful Khmer food as well as delicious Western fare (I recommend the green curry and the banana shake). The fact that the resort has only a small number of bungalows means you will never find the island crowded with people, and the atmosphere is relaxed and quiet. The staff – and their dogs – are extremely welcoming, and are happy to answer questions about the island and any interesting creatures you might encounter there.
The charm of Koh Thmei Resort lies in its simplicity, leaving visitors able to appreciate the beauty of the island itself – the ocean and beach at its edge, and the dense tropical jungle at its centre. Located within Ream National Park, nature is certainly the main attraction at Koh Thmei. Huge seabirds patrol the island’s edges, squirrels scurry in the jungle’s canopy, dolphins swim along the coast, and croaking Tokay geckos hide in corners. Koh Thmei Resort offers some activities to participate in, such as snorkelling and kayaking. However, the best way to spend your time at Koh Thmei is by doing very little. Wandering along the beach, or through the humid jungle; sitting in a hammock with a good book as the sun sets; swimming in the cool morning ocean, or tossing a Frisbee in the warm evening waves. Finding yourself in a place where relaxing and experiencing nature are the only options is a wonderful thing.
To get to Koh Thmei from Phnom Penh take the bus to Sihanoukville and ask the driver to drop you off in the village of Ou Chamnar. Once in the village find some of the local motodups to take you to the Koh Kchhang Fishing Village. Make sure you contact Koh Thmei Resort in advance so that a boat will be waiting for you.