I should have written this post long time back but since the trip didn’t go as per the itinerary gave by tour organizers. The reason, they themselves had no idea about the practical situation on the ground. They had planned the trip on the paper and it was silly on my part also because I had blindly believed what they told me. I should have done my homework before booking with them, never the less I was able to travel to some new places during the badly conceived and executed trip. It was one of the most badly planned trips I had till date. We traveled by minibus from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville for 16 hours. It was a long and tiring journey, we had nothing for dinner as the tour organizers had no idea where they have to stop for the dinner. After a back-breaking journey finally, we reached Sihanoukville town well past midnight.
The beach town of Sihanoukville Cambodia was named after the former King Sihanouk. It was a sleepy town until 1950 and then it was developed in as a deep-sea port. The seaport allowed Cambodia to trade internationally without passing through the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and also making the route shorter to the west. During Khmer Rouge regime Sihanoukville also faced hardships and there was no development.
In last few years Sihanoukville’s white sand beaches, warm Gulf of Thailand waters, beachy atmosphere, combined with a laid-back nature helped it develop as a good tropical getaway in Cambodia. Sihanoukville is a place to unwind and relax on beaches when in Cambodia. Casinos and tacky commercial centers around beaches now dominate the town. There is so much rapid and mostly unwanted development still it has remained the best of Cambodia’s white sand beaches.
I spent two days in Sihanoukville during my Cambodia trip. There are many hotels, resorts, and hostels around different beaches in Sihanoukville. I stayed in a hotel in Otres village near Otres 1 beach, which was far from main city area but near the beach.
I woke up early next morning and went alone to watch the sunrise at the beach. The sun rose from opposite side of the sea and its light was falling directly on sea waves.
There were only 2-3 people on the beach and it was very peaceful. Otres beach was quite during the sunrise time and is one of the best places to enjoy sun & sand in Sihanoukville if you are not keen to party. There were trees on the beach and their shade was a welcome relief during the day. The garden area developed near the Otres beach was another nice place to sit in shade and relax.
There are two Otres beaches 1 and 2. The beach one is quieter and less crowded, where is Otres 2 is busier comparatively. There are some nice beach shacks serving nice food and drinks, while to relax in hammock or lounge chair.
I walked back to the hotel for breakfast. Here they served me an omelet with French-style begets bread instead of regular sliced bread.
Late on I went to Serendipity beach along with two of my co-traveler from the group. We decided to relax by the beach instead of doing any sightseeing or water sports. Serendipity beach is one of the most popular and busy beaches in Sihanoukville Cambodia, there were many shops and shacks on the beach. We settled in a restaurant by the beach for drinks, it was nice under the shade as the sun was harsh.
The beach and restaurants around were full of tourists from all over the world. There were local kids and women and they were trying to sell small gift items to the tourists.
I had Cambodian food during my last two days in Cambodia and now I decided to have some burgers for lunch. The food was yummy and they treated the meat well for the petty of the burgers. The food was a bit expensive on the beach as compared to the other parts of Cambodia.
We spent rest of the day on the beach strolling around, lounging on beach chairs and it was a relief after long travel.
While strolling around the beach, I saw a group of teenage boys in the sea. They were catching muscles, prawns and Crabs with hands. When they came out of the sea, I asked them what they caught and they happily showed the catch stuffed in plastic bags. I am not good at swimming otherwise I would love to try catching prawns etc from the sea by hand, it is an interesting activity.
While returning from Serendipity beach we came across the Golden Lion Roundabout, which is between Serendipity beach to Otres beach. It’s one the main landmark of Sihanoukville Cambodia.
Later that evening I went to Casino with others but after half an hour I got bored because I am not interested in gambling and prefer natural open places. After having dinner in Otres beach area, we returned back to the hotel.
We hired for Island tour but the water was muddy and unfit to see anything during snorkeling. Nonetheless, boat ride to the island was a good experience.
At the Serendipity beach jetty every morning & evening many large boats with tourists leave and return after full day excursions to nearby islands.
There are some interesting places around Sihanoukville. One of them is Kbal Chhay Waterfall for a day’s picnic. It is seven kilometers from the center of Sihanoukville and has untouched natural beauty.
There was nothing special to carry back home from Sihanoukville. Stalls in markets around the beaches were selling gems and gift items made from seashells etc. Beachwear was also available in small shops around the beaches. There was nothing exceptional to buy.
I decided to spend a relaxing evening and returned to the hotel. Next day morning we left Sihanoukville for the Phnom Penh.
Some helpful tips for Sihanoukville Cambodia –
* Buy a local SIM as you enter Cambodia, the International and local calling are cheap. I bought a sim with an unlimited 3G-speed data plan for 7 days. I bought the sim from the main Metfone shop for 3 USD after a bargain. Lady at the counter tried to scam me by charging 6 USD but I firmly hold my ground because they Metfone published the price on their website, that was my first bargain in Cambodia.
* All the activities revolve around beaches.
* Serendipity beach is the party beach, whereas Otres beach is much quite and far from hustle bustle of Sihanoukville town.
* If taking a tour of islands Sihanoukville then bargain hard with boat operator because the possibility is that you end up paying half then the initial price.
* There are many small and big restaurants around beaches, they serve all kind of food. Keep in mind that food around beaches is a bit expensive due the location.
* Hire a bike/two-wheeler, they are most economical and save one from looking for a Tuk-Tuk and then bargaining the fare.
* Water around Sihanoukville is muddy and not good for snorkeling and scuba diving, neighboring Thailand has many better options.
* Opt for boat rides, kayaking, windsurfing, and kitesurfing prices are a bit on higher side, bargain hard to get a good price.
* There are many Casinos in Sihanoukville and it is a destination for gambling lovers.
* Many people consider Sihanoukville as a trashy hole for young, partying backpackers, but if you choose your location and activities wisely then it is a nice beach town.
* Bargaining is everywhere even for a bottle of drinking water, I had to bargain.
* US Dollars are accepted everywhere as Cambodia uses USD as the main currency. There’s no real need to change to the local currency, Cambodian Riels (KHR) unless you paying for really small things on the street.
* Don’t go in tours and plan the trip on your own even if you are traveling solo because everything is quite economical. There is good Volvo bus service to Sihanoukville from Phnom Phen.
Also check how to cross the Thailand Cambodia Border
Floating Villages of Tonal Sap near Siem Reap