December 2015. It was December the 11th when Wonderboy and I arrived in the Cambodian town of Sihanoukville for a few days of premeditated beach lazing and overeating. Our time in Battambang and Phnom Penh had been very active, so it was high time to kick back and recharge, get some perspective on what we’d experienced and look ahead to the closing leg of our cross-country travels. Having booked into the decent French-owned Pat Pat Guesthouse, it was just a short walk down to the sleepy sands of Otres Beach 1 where we pretty much had our pick of the parasols at Amber’s Bar.
December 2015. Happily we got exactly what we’d come for, with two glorious days of napping, chatting, snacking and swimming. It was the early days of Leighton Literature and long before I’d even started doing travel reports, but I remember working on some short stories under our umbrella while Wonderboy lay snoring in his deckchair.
December 2015. The only minor annoyance was the unwanted attention of the local fruit ladies, who swung by every half an hour or so with their fulsome baskets. With barely any other people about all their attention was on us and it quickly got tiresome. These women were masters in the time-honored art of not taking no for an answer and when I asked if I could photograph this woman she insisted I pay her a dollar for the privilege.
December 2015. Otres Beach 1 is supposed to be Sihanoukville’s busiest stretch of sand, but I guess December was the right time to go. The highlight of our stay was probably the two-kilometer sunset walk we took down to Otres Beach 2. Just head south and enjoy those views out over The Gulf of Thailand. It was perfectly peaceful that day and the weather was a comfortabl warm rather than the unbearable suffocation that had informed the bulk of my time in Siem Reap.
December 2015. I remember a glorious beached jellyfish shimmering in the late afternoon light and armies of tiny crabs scurrying about like Dali-esque stop motion beasts. As we drew closer, they’d disappear down into the little holes they’d made for themselves in the sand. Otres Beach 1 is about five kilometers from Sihanoukville’s drab city centre. The best way to get here is by tuk tuk, but be ready for the drivers to quote you CRAZY prices. $1.50-2 was the going rate at the time of my visit.
IMPORTANT NOTE: In the years since my visit Sihanoukville has undergone some dramatic changes and, from what I hear, NOT for the better. According to online reports the city has been transformed by huge Chinese investment. Over $4 billion has gone into power plants, offshore oil operations and towering casino hotels. There is even a local gangster scene with prostitution, street violence and a noted bar shooting back in July 2018. From what I understand the Otres beaches are still safe to visit if you stay on the main strip, though the area is rapidly losing its charm. Check the latest news ahead of your planned visit!
Like this? Check out my article on Sihanoukville’s Otres Beach 2.
You can also leaf through my many other reports from around Cambodia.
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