How to Spend 48 Hours in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

The beach at Otres, Sihanoukville
The beach at Otres, Sihanoukville | © Marissa Carruthers

A visit to the Cambodian coast is a must, whether you’re a devoted beach bum or not. There’s plenty to pack into 48 hours. Here, we look at the best ways to spend two days in Sihanoukville.

Day 1: Morning

A trip to Sihanoukville is all about the beach, so jump in a tuk tuk ($5) and head straight to Otres Beach, about 15 minutes from Sihanoukville town centre. While the lure of the town’s bright lights, loud noises, parties and cheap booze entices many, the calmer, cleaner and quieter shores of Otres are the preferred base for those in-the-know. Rapid development has seen the dust road that runs alongside the beach grow from being home to a handful of basic beach shacks to lined with guesthouses, beach bars, boutique hotels with swimming pools and upmarket restaurants. For now, Otres’ charm remains intact, with it retaining the vibe carried on from its hippy hang-out days.

The long stretch of beach is lined with restaurants and bars, ranging from backpacker dive bars to hipster cool. All offer sun loungers. Order breakfast at Greenhouse Effect and spend the morning soaking up the sun to the soundtrack of mellow house music. Its private stretch of beach boasts large loungers.

It’s almost guaranteed you will meet the many hawkers who prowl the beach. Women offer manicures and pedicures for a couple of bucks and massages for slightly more, suitcases of sunglasses are flogged and kids selling bracelets and other trinkets are in abundance – feel free to crack some jokes with the kids, but don’t be tempted to buy (here’s why).

Otres beach

Day 1: Afternoon

Take a stroll along the beach and grab lunch at Chez Paou, an Otres stalwart. It has a laid-back vibe and super friendly staff.

Take a boat tour from one of the guys along the beach offering them. It’s is a good way to spend an afternoon. Many offer half-day tours, with the price often negotiable, so get your haggling hat on. Wooden fishing boats make the trip to the handful of islands and islets close to the shore. Snorkels are provided.

A boat prepares to take tourists on a trip to the islands

Day 1: Evening

If you’re lucky enough to land when the Otres Night Market is on, then this is a must. The hippy trippy market features live music, DJs, food and drinks stalls, and a range of stalls selling clothes, jewellery and other bits and bobs. Be warned, the party often goes into the early hours, so you may well be in for a long night.

If this isn’t an option, fear not because a party often isn’t far away in Otres. Head to Pappa Pippo for dinner – their stone oven pizzas are the bomb – and lively Blame Canada for drinks.

Otres Night Market in full swing

Day 2: Morning

If you fancy exploring Sihanoukville on four legs, why not spend the morning horseriding with Liberty Ranch? Ranging from one-hour to one-day hacks, trips include beach rides – with the chance to swim in the sea with the horses – mountain trails and a land-and-sea combo. A great way to explore Sihanoukville’s rolling countryside, emerald paddies and village communities.

Gallop along the beach

Day 2: Afternoon

Shake things up and head into Sihanoukville town this afternoon to tuck into some tasty food at Friends International’s training restaurant Sandan. This offers a range of tantalising tapas dishes that span Asia and the West. Spend the afternoon exploring the market in the centre of downtown Sihanoukville. The local market is the main spot where locals come to buy their daily goods and to socialise. Wander around the stalls that sell everything from fruit and meat to clothes, electrical items and other goods.

Shop at the local market

Day 2: Evening

A beautification project has seen the packed stretch of Ochheuteal drastically clean up its act in recent months. The three-kilometre beach takes in Serendipity and Ochheuteal beaches and a whole host of rowdy beach bars, so if you fancy partying into the wee hours, then this is the place to be. Seek out a bar that appeals and sink into a seat for a sundowner beer or cocktail before heading into town for some food. For local flavours, try Nyam for dinner, which serves delicious Khmer dishes for rock bottom prices.

Be warned that theft is common on this stretch of beach at night, so keep your belongings close to you.

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