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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Seven of the Best Beaches in Cambodia and How to Get to Them

A beach vacation in Cambodia is just about the last thing you think of when the word Cambodia is mentioned . Your mind immediately goes to the magnificent Angkor Wat , or the palaces and war
memorials of Phnom Penh. Unbeknown to many on the south Coast of Cambodia are some great beaches, resorts and superb hotel accommodation.

Sihanoukville (formerly Kompong Som), Cambodia's premier beach location, is surrounded on three sides by the Bay of Thailand. From the beaches and surrounding hills, many of the country’s small islands can be seen and easily reached. There’s plenty to do and see here, but its main attraction is the array of white sandy beaches, blue-turquoise water under a clear blue sky. What was once war torn is now a paradise at peace, and tourism is now a large part of the economy.

Some tourists refer Sihanoukville as Snookyville or even Snooky, though none of the locals know the term Snookyville or Snooky. 

 Getting There:

First and foremost, to get to the south coast beaches from Phnom Penh it will take roughly three and a half hours, on what are nowadays very good roads.

* A chartered taxi from Phnom Penh's Central Market can make the trip in less than three hours and will cost anywhere from US$25-40 per car, depending on the petrol price of the day. You can reduce the price by sharing seats, but be warned that Khmers will squeeze as many as eight people into the car, including two in the drivers seat, so most people will need to buy two seats for comfort.

* You can get a private taxi to Sihanoukville for $50 - $55.  Most of the cars are relatively recent Toyota Camrys and comfortable enough. Order from Travel Agents around the city.

* You can take the bus for the experience and they leave from the central market.

Here there still exist the bullet and shell pocked ruins of mansions now overgrown with weeds and bushes with their once elegantly crafted wrought iron gates now leading to nothing as a reminder of the old days of the war. However,  Sihanoukville now offers a number of high quality hotels and guesthouses along with water sports, fun and a never ending nightlife. Below is a map of Sihanoukville's top beaches.

Map of Sihanoukville

 Occheuteal Beach and Serendipity Beach


Occheuteal Beach


  • Occheuteal Beach is a popular beach with western tourists and increasingly locals, there are numerous hotels, guest houses, beach huts, minimarts, restaurants and travel agencies, as well as growing nightlife making it one of the party beaches of South East Asia. On the beach there are around 30 beach huts serving good value meals and a wide selection of drinks.

  • Serendipity Beach is not really a separate beach, but actually just part of Occheuteal Beach. Why it has a separate name is not clear. Guesthouses and bar/restaurants right on the beach, open until the early hours. Huge backpacker nightlife during the peak season and huge, mostly local crowds on New Year's Eve. This area is the most popular with Western tourist.

 Otres Beach

Otres Beach, (South-east of Serendipity and Ochheuteal Beaches). Amazing 2.5 mile (4km) long stretch of clean, white sands. Less crowded and definitely more relaxed than other beaches in Sihanoukville. It starts with a strip of beach bars and guesthouse called Otres 1 followed by a 1.6 mile (1km) long public beach that ends at Otres 2 – another (smaller) strip of beach bars and guesthouses. The Marina is situated on the river at Otres 2 and provides boats and charters for both the river and the sea. Tourists will find accommodation in rooms or bungalows (prices ranging from US$10 - 50 p/night).

Otres Beach

 Otres Beach is great place for lazy sunbathing, partying and some other activities also available (catamarans, windsurfing, kayaks, various boat trips, buggy cars, bicycles and jet skis). The beach bars of both strips have a rich bar, sun beds and a local food / western food menu. Most of them also feature bungalows or simple rooms.

Sokha Beach

 Sokha Beach is owned by Sokha Beach Resort, it is private but you can access it by paying a couple dollars. You won't have many people begging or trying to sell you something here.

Sokha Beach Resort

 Along the beaches, especially at Ochheuteal Beach, there are many food stalls and some restaurants serving grilled, meat, chicken and seafood with chips/fries and a beer for US$3-4. There are a good many restaurants in town as well. Sihanoukville has a surprisingly diverse set of cuisines.

 Drive for a couple of hours along the coast and you will come to Kep. Here the beach may not seem as exciting as those in Sihanoukville because the pace of life is just so slow yet appealing. This is where the French built their villas when they were in power, and again development is taking place.

 Koh Rong Island

Koh Rong is located about 25 kilometers from Sihanoukville. The island has 43 km of beautiful sandy beaches along both its Eastern and Western shores; its main attraction. Most visitors stay in guesthouses and bungalows situated along the beach at Koh Tuich Village (Tui Beach). There are isolated resorts on other beaches.

The atmosphere at Koh Tuich is very relaxed and beach-focused during the daytime, followed by beach restaurants and partying when the sun sets. Travelers looking for isolation or peace and quiet should consider accommodation at the far end of Tui Beach or on other beaches.

Getting to Koh Rong

Koh Rong has two ferry options. The slow boat leaves 2-3 times daily and takes 2 1/2 hours. ($5/10$ round trip with open return as of February 2014). The fast boat takes 40 minutes-1 hour and leaves about twice daily. ($20 R/T with open return). Two of the fast boat companies have websites, these are Speedferrycambodia and Sea Cambodia, the websites have up to date information on destinations and timetables.

Finally, before heading home, why not take a diving trip to the island of Koh Tang. Located approximately 52 km (32 mi) off the coast, this is the biggest of the group of Cambodian islands. There are no permanent civilian inhabitants living on the island. This is where the last battle of the Vietnam war was fought, and the water is so clear and teeming with fish.

 Today a vacation on Cambodia's southern coast is just the way it was in Thailand just before the tourism boom, and at the moment food and drink is unbelievably cheap. Many of the beaches have grass-hut restaurants and bars in which to fill your belly with affordable and delicious local cuisine and drinks.

The beach resorts of Cambodia really must be part of any vacation in Cambodia. Whether you're looking for partying all night or experiencing an underwater adventure among pristine coral reefs, if hot and sunny weather with an abundance of small islands and beaches, cheap accommodation, food, and drinks, combined with friendly locals appeals to you, Cambodia's got beach resorts for all types and all budgets and should be your next travel destination.


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