The saying goes that you should “have nothing in your life that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” Sihanoukville isn’t going to win any beauty contests, but, for us, it was at least a very useful stopover between other more beautiful places in Cambodia.
We had one full day in Sihanoukville. One full day of rain. This, combined with a good wifi connection and comfy sofas at our hostel, made for a productive day of travel planning.
We’d originally planned to take the ferry from Serendipity Beach over to Koh Rong for a week, but with high prices and low review scores we were fast changing our mind. A story of the last boat taking over seven hours to make the three hour journey sealed the deal and we ditched Koh Rong in favour of three nights on the much smaller Koh Ta Kiev island, and two nights further along the coast in Ream National Park. Sleeper trains not being an option across Cambodia, we also sorted our Giant Ibis bus tickets to Phnom Penh and on to Siem Reap.
Whilst Serendipity Beach and Sihanoukville town weren’t the debauched ‘Magaluf-of-Asia’ horrors we’d been led to expect, they’re not much to write home about; a long stretch of tacky bars along a crowded strip of sand, and a haphazard cluster of happy hours, dive tours, and all-day breakfasts on the hill behind.
When the rain had finally stopped we scooted around to nearby Otres Beach where we’d be catching the boat to Koh Ta Kiev. Otres (and ‘Otres 2’ further along the coast) were prettier and less developed than Serendipity, with wooden beach bungalows along the seashore. From the free dorm at Hacienda, to the cool igloo style pods at Done Right, and the excellent human-to-hammock ratio at Sea Garden, Otres seemed a much better option for an extended beach stay if you can’t make it to the islands.
But given that the islands and the national park are just a $6 boat ride away, you’ll probably be tempted anyway…