A Guide to Sihanoukville: Cambodia’s Coastal Party Town

by Sasha Savinov

Sihanoukville, Cambodia – it’s one of those places that you either love or hate. The parties go late every night and it has all the most annoying kinds of tourists. Most people hate it because they end up staying in the busy area and it’s not what they were looking for. One can easily have a good time here, you just have to find the right balance.

There are five beaches in Sihanoukville – Ochheuteal Beach, Victory Beach, Independence Beach, Sokha Beach, Otres Beach and Serendipity. The last two are the only ones we visited, so that’s what I’ll be talking about in this post.

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Some call it “Snookyville,” but we promise it’s much better than the spray-tanned, fake-Italian midget from MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”

Happy to finally be on the beach

Happy to finally be on the beach

Otres Beach

If you prefer a more quiet place but with easy access to the party spot, then Otres 1 is the place for you. Even more quiet and secluded is Otres 2 which is separated by a strip of public beach with no development. Both beaches are perfectly safe – just don’t wander between the two at night.

We stayed on Otres 1 and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Our little bungalow was at a place called Indigo on Otres. It was right on the water with lots of comfy chairs and umbrellas. They also had a restaurant with delicious food and a full bar. Plus their dog had recently had puppies and they were still young enough to need their mommy and they were so cute. That was a nice added bonus.

Indigo on Otres

Indigo on Otres

View from up top in the tree house

View from up top in the tree house

Everyone loves puppies

Everyone loves puppies

Otres is much less crowded but still has the usual touts selling jewelry, pedicures, massages and sunglasses. It’s still quite relaxing and the sunsets are beautiful. There are plenty of restaurants and bars along the beach and most have accommodation. Otres Corner does a great Sunday roast and almost all the other restaurants on the beach have a daily BBQ of fresh fish and meats plus a salad for only $5.

Not bad for $5

Not bad for $5

Our favorite place that was seemingly new was called In the Jungle of Cambodia. We overheard them telling someone a private room was $9 and they also have dorms. Their sign was the best:

Perhaps this is what heaven's sign says

Perhaps this is what heaven’s sign says

Aside from the occasional party, Otres is pretty quiet at night. If you’re looking for some bumping nightlife, chances are you’ll have to go elsewhere.

Amazing sunsets everyday on Otres

Amazing sunsets everyday on Otres

 

Our view for dinner

Our view for dinner

Serendipity Beach

Serendipity is the perfect place if you love noise, loud music, parties and crazy people. There are many bars, restaurants and guest houses right on the beach all with their own beach chairs and it’s always crowded.

Lots of beach chairs and umbrellas and people

Lots of beach chairs and umbrellas and people

Despite all this there are some nice spas and great happy hours.

Enjoying beers at happy hour

Enjoying beers at happy hour

This is the nearest beach to the town so it has all the spas, restaurants, bars, travel agencies and shopping. While it can be annoying, it’s the most convenient place to stay. It also has the best night life.

Anyone who's been in a Widespread Panic or Phish lot knows what's going on here

Anyone who’s been in a Widespread Panic or Phish lot knows what’s going on here

Activities and Nightlife

While most people staying on Otres spend their days recovering from the night before, there are still plenty of things to occupy your days. Options include snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and you can also try the Fly Board.

Fly Board; crazy, right?

Fly Board; crazy, right?

Only 7 kilometers from Otres is a small, uninhabited island. We opted for kayaking and headed over with our snorkel masks to explore the area.

Getting some exercise

Getting some exercise

View from the island

View from the island

The Otres Market is every Saturday night in a place called The Barn. It’s full of great people, live music, delicious food and shopping with everything from art to clothing. There’s also a fire spinning show most Saturdays. It kicks off at sunset and goes well into the wee hours of the night. We had no idea it was happening until the manager of Indigo asked if we wanted to tag along. I’m glad he did because we were starting to feel a little bored.

Trippy black light art

Trippy black light art

Fire show!

Fire show!

We thought Sihanoukville was great and we will definitely go back someday. If you’re on the fence about going because you’ve heard negative things, I suggest you go and stay on Otres. It’s nice and quiet but only a 40-minute walk up the beach to Serendipity where the night life is really crazy. Go and formulate your own opinion and if you don’t like it at least you tried and you never have to go back again.

Sihanoukville Summary

Enjoying a sunset on Otres Beach.

Enjoying a sunset on Otres Beach.

Transportation: We arrived in Snookyville via mini-van from Kampot for $10 each. It only took us about an hour and a half to get there, as our driver was hauling ass. You can get here by mini-van or bus from most major destinations in Cambodia.

Accommodation: During our 3-night stay, we opted for the quieter Otres Beach. We stayed in our own cozy bungalow at Indigo for $20 a night. Their rates are cheaper in low season (we stayed around Christmas time). The room was simple, but the staff were great, it was right on the beach, and we enjoyed our stay.

Getting Around: Snookyville isn’t that big, and you can easily walk in between the major beaches. There are other options, though – you can take a tuk-tuk or taxi, and you can also rent bicycles and motorbikes. We heard the police love to mess with foreigners on motorbikes, though, so be careful should you choose to go this route.

Activities: It’s a beach town, so most of the action happens in the sand and water. Kayaking, snorkeling, diving, flyboards, jet skis, and all of that good stuff. Other than that, you can hit a spa and enjoy the nightlife.

Food/Drink: There are so many places to eat and drink that we can’t even begin to list them. Most of these are located in the area around Serendipity, but you can also get a good meal and enjoy drinks on Otres and the other beaches. Our favorite was the $5 beachfront BBQs that happen every night.

Recommended Time: We thought our three nights here were enough, especially since we went over to neighboring Koh Rong for four. However, we met plenty of people who got stuck in Snookyville for months at a time.

Total Cost: We spent $250 for our three nights there. This went over our budget, but we had been doing well with that and it was Christmas time, so we decided to splurge a bit and enjoy a vacation. If you don’t party as hard as we do, you could spend considerably less.

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