Let’s be straight here, Sihanoukville is not a particularly beautiful place, nor is it a place someone comes to relax. Sihanoukville is a place where people come to PARTY!! And that was exactly what we intended to do. We stayed three nights in total; Dec 30th, New Years Eve and New Years Day.
The plan after that was to head to a peaceful island for a few nights of rest and relaxation - Koh Rong.
Getting There – Kep to Sihanoukville
We got a bus from Kep booked through our guesthouse – this is common practice in Cambodia – directly to Sihanoukville for $8pp. Everything seems to be priced in USD here, food, transport etc. So everything is much more expensive than in Vietnam!!
The journey was shambolic and what should have taken a couple of hours managed to take almost four. Still, what can you do, there isn’t exactly an alternative. (We couldn’t find any public buses from Kep or Kampot to Sihanoukville).
Aka the Magaluf of Cambodia, is a pleasant enough place if you’re there for the party. There's plenty of westerners working the bars and many places advertising for western staff. This means the party vibe is pretty decent and you aren’t subjected to too much weird Cambodian karaoke at obscene volumes.
We stayed in a neat little hostel called One Stop in a 6 bed mixed dorm (yes.. we spent too much money at Christmas and are now on a money saving mission!!). Although we were in a dorm it still set us back $18 a night for two beds, quite steep, but it did have a lovely little pool to float around in on new years day.
Serendipity Beach is the main beach to Sihanoukville town, but it's a pretty sorry sight. Hundreds of deck chairs are crammed in and there's rubbish everywhere. The bars compete for who can play the loudest music, which results in a pretty unpleasant mashup.
If you want to get away from all the riffraff, we recommend the much more serene Otres Beach just a few miles south. To get there we hired a moped at $6 for the day. You could also get a tuk tuk there for about $5/6 each way.
Otres beach was beautiful and peaceful, with whiter than white sand, clear water and a great community atmosphere. Many local families and even monks were out having NYE picnics, it was lovely.
The Cambodians sure know how to throw a party! Thousands of tourists and locals alike flocked to Sihanoukville for the infamous beach/street party on NYE. We drank incredible espresso martinis at a fabulous Mexican bar/restaurant Maybe Later, and then headed down to the beach party with some new found friends. I may have partied a little too hard as I fell off the DJ booth and had to get my foot bandaged up.. I’ve been hobbling ever since!
Tried to take a selfie with our new mates...
Feeling sorry for myself on the lilo in the pool
Or should I call it Koh Wrong!!? It was an absolute nightmare from start to finish. We wanted to get away from it all after our heavy partying in Sihanoukville, so booked into some well reviewed little tents, 'Nice' Beach Bungalows, on the secluded Coconut Beach on Koh Rong. The tents were my idea to save a bit of money and because it sounded romantic. Mike was less keen on the idea...
It was far from romantic. Our ordeal began before we even left the mainland. The ferry company we booked with failed us and we ended up waiting on the pier in the scorching heat for over 4 hours. We eventually got a boat to the main pier on Koh Rong for $12pp, but it took us another hour and a further $10 to get a long-tail boat around to the secluded Coconut Beach.
When we eventually arrived - just before darkness fell - we were disappointed to see that the beach was unkempt, the tents were crammed in one on top of the other and basically it looked nothing like the pictures online. When we were trying to sleep it was far from peaceful as all you could hear were the locals singing (terrible) karaoke on the beach, and the generator whirring away in the background. To top it off, you couldn’t even get a coconut for love nor money! So much for Coconut Beach, we left a day early with two other couples doing the same. Luckily we managed to get a refund for the last night.
All excitement...waiting for our boat at 11am
Tired faces finally on a boat at 3pm
First Impressions of Coconut Beach
Actually on top of one another!!
- Head to Otres Beach for relaxing and Serendipity Beach for the party.
- Avoid Coconut Beach on Koh Rong if you want to keep your sanity.
- Bear in mind, everything is relatively expensive here (compared to the rest of SE Asia) as it is priced in USD.
- Backpackers head to The Big Easy! The liveliest bar/hostel in town!
- Head to Maybe Later for fantastic Mexican food and some awesome cocktails.