As your boat arrives at Koh Toch pier, high above the line of beachside bars, restaurants and guesthouses, you’ll see the word “Skybar.” The term is often been used to describe city bars perched on top of a high-rise block, and it seemed unlikely that the view from a beach bar that wasn’t serviced by an elevator could match the vertiginous heights of skybars I’d been to before. But, after having put in the legwork to get up to the bar-restaurant, the panoramic view of sea and sky did justify the name.
In case the climb begins to put you off, the stairway up is dotted with encouraging signs — “Keep going! Not much further!” — as you make the ascent. We arrived around 5 p.m. to find a happy hour from 6 p.m. offering two-for-one cocktails (normally priced between $3 and $4.50). They also have regular daily deals, such as Wine and Dine Wednesdays and Thirsty Thursdays. The lovely view along with reasonably priced spirits and a couple of choices of wine make this arguably the best spot on Koh Toch for some sundowner drinks — even if you won’t be getting a direct sunset view (which you would need to be on the other side of the island on Sok San beach for).
While Skybar is fine for beers (cans of the ubiquitous island beer, Klang, or Angkor) and mixed drinks, don’t expect too much from the cocktails which we found were a mixed bag. The lemongrass and orange martini we tried was light and refreshing but a disappointing espresso martini tasted weakly of both coffee and booze, and served in a plastic tumbler that made me feel like I was a three-year-old, or at best, enjoying a picnic.
Equally, don’t expect too much from the food, as the menu offers fairly typical island grub skewed towards Western fare (burgers, pancakes, omelettes and pasta) with a few Asian dishes such as fried rice and fried noodles. There was nothing to tempt us to have dinner there, so we got some bar snacks — as they were out of our first choice of cheesy balls, we settled for some cheesy chips and chicken spring rolls. They were adequate at soaking up the booze; the portion of spring rolls was generous, although the chips received only a stingy sprinkling of cheese.
The bar was manned by Western staff each time we went in the Koh Rong tradition of backpackers in no rush to leave the island, prolonging their days by working in the guesthouses and bars. Simple wooden décor and relaxed beats add to the atmosphere. As well as the bar-restaurant, Skybar also offers private or dorm accommodation in bungalows on either side of that staircase, which seem like a good option if you want to stay close to Koh Toch pier without being right on the noisy beach.
Koh Rong Skybar
Open daily, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Koh Tuch, Koh Rong
T: 098 217 090