It’s 2018 ! Time flew by so quickly, especially when it was the month long holiday season back in December. With Christmas and the New Year dawning upon me – I took a good break off blogging for a bit. That said, the adventures obviously didn’t stop. Now… Throwback to last August – I visited Sihanoukville, Cambodia! Where exactly is this place, I had to google it myself!
At least, Air Asia flies directly to Sihanoukville from Kuala Lumpur . First impression when it comes to Cambodia is always Angkor Wat/Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. I’ve visited Angkor Wat back then in 2012 and I loved it! Phnom Penh is still on my bucketlist, but it can wait. So, what exactly brings me to this beach- cum-backpacker town? Well, it was the only decent access to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Saloem islands.
“Sihanoukville will remain as the jumping-off point for the best of Cambodia’s white-sand beaches and castaway-cool southern islands. The Serendipity Beach area is a decompression chamber for backpackers, who flock here to rest up between travels and party through the night.” – Lonely Planet
I took a morning flight and arrived at Sihanoukville about 1.30pm. It was a very small airport with only two immigration counters to stamp and clear the whole aircraft. My journey on a bike towards the town was pretty much what I had in mind of Cambodia – dirt road, cows and goats lazing on the pavement, shoe-less kids playing with each other and ladies doing their laundry with river water.
En route to town, the scene started to change rapidly. From greenery and hills, I was soon greeted by shitloads of casinos and a bunch of newly constructions buildings. It started to feel a little bit like ‘little China’, with buses filled with Chinese tourists. It was quite an insight. Who knew this small town could attract that many Chinese investors! According to some local Cambodians, they weren’t impress with their government at approving the ‘Casino City’ plans. I foresee Sihanoukville will soon become the ‘Macao of Southeast Asia’, with casinos springing up like mushrooms. I only spent 2 days in this city.
Things to do in Sihanoukville
1. Be a beach bum & head over to Otres Beach
Otres beach is a long 5 km stretch of beach south of Serendipity pier. There is two significant parts of Otres Beach; Otres 1 (busy) and Otres 2 (quiet). Both the beaches had totally different vibes. If you want some peace and alone time – head over to Otres 2. Tips – Bring your own mat or towel. Some food or snacks would be recommended too.
I stayed at Om Home, which was in the heart of the laid back Otres Village. Otres 2 was just about 10-20 minutes walk from Otres Village. Honestly, I preferred Otres 2 as the beach was way cleaner. Otres 1 has a stretch of restaurants and cafe, but nothing much to shout about. You can find backpackers partying up till the early mornings at Otres 1.
2. Catch sunset at Independence Resort & Spa!
The resort is on the other side of town and it was about 30 mins ride from Otres Village. The resort’s bar sits nicely facing the West and overlooking an infinity pool. It was pretty cloudy so I didn’t get a perfect sunset. The Independence hotel had a history behind it and it was built in 1963 during the height of Cambodia’s ‘Golden Era’. It was so popular among the elite social class back then that Jacqueline Kennedy (wife of the 35th President of the United States John F. Kennedy) actually visited the hotel during her trip to Cambodia. Now, I feel somewhat special!
3. Indulge in wood-fired oven Pizza at Green Pepper!
Straight out of Naples! Ahh one must be crazy not to fall in love with pizzas! Fortunate to have met the owner of Green Pepper himself and he recommended the Margherita Pizza for a start. The crust was perfectly baked and the amount of Mozzarella cheese wasn’t too overwhelming. It was delicious. What i really liked about the whole experience is the ambience and how the owner was very attentive to details. He made the effort to make you feel welcomed. Bread was served with olive oil and balsamic sauce for a start. The meal ended with complimentary limoncello shot too!
4. Seafood hunt at Serendepity Beach!
There weren’t much bar or cafe hopping around Serendipity Beach. The only one I’ve visited was called ‘the Big Easy’ at Serendipity Road. Decent bar food, 1-for-1 cocktails and a very uneven pool table at your disposal. You would be able to spot the usual backpackers crowd over here. Walk further down towards the pier and turn left. There lies a whole stretch of beachside seafood restaurants. Almost all of them sold the same kind of seafood, so pick what you feel comfortable with. I went for the brightest spot with pillowed seats.
5. Ortes Market for a Night Cap!
Stumbled across Otres Market along the way back to Om Home. This open al-fresco area happened to be smacked in the heart of Otres Village. Apparently, it was wet, rainy and low season for Sihanoukville (late August) so nothing much was open. Surprisingly, it still had a decent bar and a live band strumming away some late night tunes. It wasn’t too crowded and I had a watermelon gin based cocktail for the night. I could imagine how this place would be like at peak, with little stalls selling all sorts of nicknacks. FYI the signboard was misleading – no live music till 4am. I blame the low season.
Points of Interest
- Otres Beach 1 & 2
- The Big Easy, Serendipity Road
- Seafood galore @ Serendipity Beach
- Independence Resort & Spa
- Green Pepper Italian Restaurant, Otres 2
- Otres Market, Otres Village
Food and Drinks List
- The Big Easy Bar (Serendipity Rd, Krong Preah Sihanouk, Cambodia)
- Independence Spa & Resort (Street 2 Thnou, Kâmpóng Saôm, Cambodia)
- Green Pepper Italian (Otres II, Sihanoukville, Cambodia)
- Otres Mom’s House for Fish Amok (Krong Preah Sihanouk, Cambodia)