There is plenty of choice concerning Sihanoukville beaches!
This guide will help you find the one best for you.
Is Sihanoukville worth the arduous four to five hour trip from Phnom Penh? In my opinion, yes, it is. The Sihanoukville beaches are, in part, unbelievably beautiful. Everything is reasonably priced, since it is a backpackers’ mecca. Nonetheless, other tourists are welcome too, and can feel comfortable here.
But if you expect five-star service by the gorgeous beach, I would not recommend this place. The quality of the food and the service in many restaurants leaves room for improvement. To be honest though, I don’t really care about that. To me it is most important that I am in a beautiful place and that is definitely the case. Below I would like to prove that by means of a little beach guide.
Sihanoukville beaches guide
The selection is huge. You are spoilt for choice. I took it upon myself to check out absolutely every single beach on the motorbike so that you won’t have to; since a visit is not worthwhile everywhere! After arriving you should obtain a map of Sihanoukville from your guesthouse or one of the many travel agencies as soon as possible. On it the beaches are marked very clearly. I recommend renting a motorcycle in order to reach the different beaches.
Is a relatively small, incredibly beautiful beach. If your accommodation is near Serendipity Beach, you can even walk there in about half an hour. This beach is perfect for those who prefer things to be a little calmer.
This is the perfect beach for hedonists, who prefer to enjoy the day at the beach with a few beers and a massage. An avenue of trees just behind the beach gives plenty of shade and there are few restaurants offering simple Asian and Western meals.
You can easily give this beach a miss. It is made up of only a small strip of sand and is not inviting in any other way either. In front of Hawaii Beach there lies Koh Pous Island. At the time of my visit in January 2014, construction work on a bridge, which connects the island to the mainland, was completed, but it was not yet open to traffic.
This beach is highly frequented, because a few big hotels are just behind it. The strip of sand is relatively narrow and not especially pretty. Right next to Victory Beach is the industrial harbour.
This is the most frequented beach in all of Sihanoukville. Most of the accommodation, at varying price levels, is located here. During the day you can give the beach a miss. At night, the nightlife takes place here until four in the morning. All beach restaurants offer an almost identical selection of seafood barbecue, typically Asian. Behind the beach, on the main street there are restaurants, which are a little more comfortable for sitting down.
Forms a single very long beach together with Serendipity Beach. The further you move away from Serendipity Beach the calmer it gets. One section of the beach makes do without any bungalows, restaurants or guesthouses. Right at the end of the beach, near Otres Beach, there is a section of fantastically white beach with one or two bars. This is the part of Sihanoukville I found the most beautiful!
Here is where backpackers find what makes their heart sing. The beach is incredibly beautiful and right at the beach there are a number of cheap bungalow complexes. Further back at the unpaved road there are two- and three-storey wooden houses with the perfect adventure ambiance. The bungalows by the beach don’t have toilets or showers. These are located further away from the beach, where the construction of permanent houses is permitted. To me, Otres Beach was the perfect place for relaxing, for eating and drinking in one of the restaurants and for enjoying the beach.
Ideally, you just come here, pick the accommodation you like best and ask for a vacancy. Since Sihanoukville is not so overcrowded this is not normally a problem. You can book your first night’s stay at Hostelworld or booking.com at Serendipity Beach. Most accommodation close to the beach that you can book online is located there.
Queen Hill Resort
After one night at Serendipity Beach I rented a motorcycle and set out to find better accommodation. On a hill between Ochheuteal and Otres Beach I succeeded. The bungalows on a hill cost 30 USD per night. The bathrooms and the cleanliness could have been better, but at such a perfect location, I didn’t really care. If you prefer you can book the Queen Hill Resort Bungalows online as well.
This was the view from my bungalow:
Those who enjoy diving or solitude can visit one of the offshore islands. Any one of the countless travel agencies will happily sell you day trips and beyond to the islands.
Is best on Serendipity Beach. There are also a few bars in the Victory Hill district above Victory Beach, but – be warned – those are not normal bars but girlie bars.
On the road between Independence and Hawaii Beach there is wild troop of monkeys, which delights in the food given to them by the tourists. Bananas and peanuts are their favourites. They are not supposed to be fed at all, but that is wishful thinking in the face of all the tourists who make a stop here.
Avoid this travel agency like the plague
They call themselves “Lucky travel and tours, Flight and visa specialists”, www.lucky-travels.com and their offices are on the main street behind Serendipity Beach. The signage above the entrance is yellow and white on a dark green board.
When I tried to return my rental scooter on a weekday at 11.30 the office was still locked up with a chain, even though it was supposed to open at 10.00 at the latest. I wanted my passport back and was going to get picked up afterwards, at 12.00, by a bus company to get back to Phnom Penh. Luckily my call was answered by the boss, who told me he was visiting relatives in Kampot. He couldn’t understand my excitement and said he would send someone over. The person showed up, still sleepy, shortly before 12 and returned my passport to me. Another customer, who wanted to pick up his visa for Vietnam, arrived and only thanks to me he found the travel agent’s office open.
Go elsewhere. Such sloppiness should really not be supported!
For your travel planning
There is a variety of offers. I recommend using the Sorya bus line. It runs from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville almost every hour between 7.00 and 17.00. From Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh it runs as well almost every hour between 7.00 and 17.00.
Sorya also offers the bus route to and from Siem Reap, but less often. Inquire into the exact travel times a day ahead of travelling.
All travel agencies, without exception, try to talk you into travelling in a VIP minivan. But those are just normal minibuses with little legroom. A bus is the better choice.
When is the best travel time?
Sihanoukville sees the best weather from November until February, with pleasant, warm temperatures and almost no rainfall.