I had briefly spoken about my stay at Sihanoukville in my last post. Our plan of taking a ferry to the island of Koh Rong had been changed due to the heavy rains and we had decided to stay back and explore Sihanoukville itself.
We extended our stay in the same hotel as it was located close to the beach with affordable bars and restaurants near by. Most of our time was spent sitting in one of those random bars, watching the rain and reading books while sipping on chilled beer.We did manage to go on a few outdoor adventures whenever the weather would calm down. Here are the list of things we did get a chance to explore in Sihanoukville:
The only reason why we were decided to stay back in that town was to enjoy the beach. Sihanoukville is located on the Southern coastline of Cambodia and is home to some beautiful beaches. There are a number of beaches in town and also in the surrounding areas. Our accommodation was close to the famous ‘Serendipity’ beach and we had the chance to spend a lot of time there. We also visited the ‘Otres’ beach which had been recommended to us by a local and turned out to be an absolute delight. The Otres beach was more isolated and cleaner than the former and had two parts; Otres 1 and Otres 2.Do keep in mind to get down at the correct Otres beach if you take the tuk tuk to get there. Other famous beaches nearby were the ‘Independence’ beach, the ‘Sokha’ beach and the ‘Ochheuteal’ beach.
Explore the Local Market:
While in town, I would highly recommend you to pay a visit to the local market. Just ask the tuk tuk drivers to take you to Central Market and within just 2$, your designated tuk tuk will drop you off at the main gate of a huge indoor market. The market is humongous and is divided up in to numerous sections. Starting from clothes, vegetables, fresh or fried sea food to fresh meat… one can find everything there. The stench is usually strong enough to make people faint. There were a huge range of sights to see- fresh meat being washed at one end, raw fishes being friend and sold, to the satisfied locals eating them at the other end. The market was flooded with locals and we didn’t get to see any tourists there. If you want to get the feel of the local lifestyle of Sihanoukville, don’t forget to visit the market.(Warning: The visit to the local market did make me not want to eat chicken for the rest of my stay in Sihanoukville!)
This is the one thing that we did more than anything during our three-day stay. By the end of our stay, we had had at least one beer at each and every bar or café within our surrounding neighbourhoods. There are hundreds of great bars and restaurants around town. Lauren had a handy guidebook with her and we ventured off to a few places suggested in the book on the first day itself. These places weren’t really crowded as it had been raining incessantly ever since the past few days and most of the backpackers had left the town already. The two of us had been in full party mode ever since the day we had met and were sure as hell weren’t going to let sparse crowds ruin our moods. There is a saying in Sihanoukville that no matter where you party, you’ll always end up at JJ’s till 3am. JJ’s was a famous bar located on the beach and everyone went there dance after all the drinking in the town. We hadn’t planned this to happen, but somehow, the two of us ended up at JJ’s too and whatever happened there that night had made us really famous by the next morning. Everyone who met us on the streets the following morning would come greet us while we had no idea why. We went there again the next night and the staff was quick to recognizes with a free welcome drink in hand. It turns out that the last night had been a face paint party and the two of us had danced crazily while wearing matching vests which said ‘”I love Cambodia”. This had made us stand out from the crowd. We went there every night after that and it was a fun experience every time. JJ’s is definitely a must-visit for all party lovers! There are obviously a lot of things to see in Sihanoukville but to take a chance to get drunk and party there because that town definitely knows how to party.
The Khmer Food:
Lauren is going to have a good laugh when she reads this. I am not the typical ‘foodie’ and I usually don’t like experimenting with my important meals. Irrespective of what I did, I would really recommend you to try the local Khmer dishes.They not only sound exotic, but taste amazing as well. The best part about their food is that everything is made from fresh ingredients and the sauces and curries are made by hand too. We tried some Cambodian spaghetti which had a delicious Khmer touch. A lot of the local cafes offer fresh sea food where you can customize your own ingredients and they will cook it for you.
Our original plan was to visit Koh Rong, one of the most beautiful islands in Cambodia. Koh Rong usually features on every backpacker’s list post a visit to Sihanoukville but luck didn’t favour us this time around. Despite of missing out on the beauty of Koh Rong, I loved every bit of my stay at Sihanoukville and if I were given a choice between repeating the stay or having the chance to visit Koh Rong, I’d choose the former any day.
Other than the things listed above, you will find things like organized tours, Island hopping, sight-seeing, bike tours, scuba diving, snorkeling etc which might interest you. Due to it being off-season and the torrential rainfall, we didn’t get to do all these ‘touristy’ things but had a great time otherwise as well.