We arrived in Sihanoukville after a 7 hour journey from Phnom Penh. It was our first time seeing the sea since we started travelling, so you can imagine how excited we were seeing that splash of blue in the distance when heading to Ananas Bungalows on Otres Beach!
Straight away, you can notice the difference between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville and that difference is... Westerners! On Otres Beach 2, almost every inch is covered with different restaurants/bars with happy hours and bbq's advertised out the front. If you really liked interacting with local people, eating street food and witnessing the culture differences between Asia and back home, you can pretty much kiss goodbye to that! We missed the rough and ready nature of the city at first but once we settled in, we were more than happy to be on the beach at last. We stayed in a beautiful beach bungalow for $8 a night (yup it was that cheap) and ate at a handful of restaurants located on the beach. The food was really good in all of them, so you'll never be short of good places to eat/drink with the average meal costing around $5.
Kerfuffle Jungle Party
Our first night on Otres 2 was a Wednesday and for anyone that knows Sihanoukville, it seems there's only one event you should be going to on a Wednesday and that event is 'Kerfuffle'. For any tech house lovers like us out there, it will be the first decent bit of music you will hear whilst in Cambodia! Kerfuffle is a party that is held in the jungle every Wednesday, which on google maps looks like it is just behind Otres Beach 2. Well.. We can pretty much assure you it is not!!! We thought it would be an easy walk, so we set off following the map thinking it would be a waste of money to get a Tuk Tuk. After what seemed like an hour long trek through the back streets of Sihanoukville, with a thousand dogs howling and growling at us on the way, and the fact that we eventually got to a lake which we would of had to wade through (our tipsy minds considered it)... we gave in to getting a Tuk Tuk. The journey was definitely not possible to walk. After loads of winding, pothole covered country roads and a little journey deep into the jungle, we finally got there! It was $7 to get in after 11pm (although I've seen different nights advertised for as much as $10 since). The music was so good and it was such a cool experience partying in the jungle with a massive glowing Ferris wheel lighting up the dance floor! It goes on till about 10am and there's loads of after parties you can go to! Definitely get yourself down to Kerfuffle if you're here on a Wednesday - it's not one to miss!
3 Island Boat Visit
Whilst on Otres, we went on two excursions. One being an all day fishing/snorkelling/cliff jumping trip which takes you to visit 3 islands by boat. It cost $15 per person and lasts around 6 hours. The 3 islands that you visit are Koh Tres, Koh Chanloh and Koh Ta Kiev. The first two are just for snorkelling stops, although the water wasn't very clear so we only saw a couple of fish unfortunately. After these two, you go to the rocks that are used for cliff jumping. This part was so fun and the cliffs weren't too high, so pretty much everyone had a go! The last stop was Koh Ta Kiev, you can actually book accommodation on this island. It has a secluded beach on one side and has a more busy village on the other. We got off on the secluded beach and had a wonder down the beach and into a beach bar. The Barman was telling us that the island only has electricity for 4 hours per night and has no Wifi Signal, therefore is a really cool break for anyone wanting to get away from life in general! There wasn't much to do on this island so we all sat down and had lunch. Lunch was a plate of chicken, salad and a baguette. We were really impressed with it, especially as we were given all the spare chicken portions too! (Buzzing!!). We're a bit unsure of what happened to the fishing activity that we were promised on this trip too, we were dropped back to the beach without it even happening. Overall, it was a really good day trip! However, we saw the same trip being advertised for $10 per person the next day, so make sure you haggle and don't take the first price, even with excursions!
The other trip was an evening snorkelling/fishing trip which ends after a swim with Bioluminescent Plankton at night. Bioluminescent plankton is plankton/algae that glows in the dark when touched. It glows because certain types of chemicals when combined produce energy which 'excites' other particles on vibration and generates light. This experience bucket list was on both of our bucket lists before travelling, therefore we were soooo excited for this trip. We got on the boat at about half 4 and got back around 8:30. The snorkelling was the same as the previous trip with not many fish in sight, so we got straight on to fishing. We were given an empty water bottle with some line tied round it, which we thought was hilarious at first but we saw a man on the peer a few days later catching tonnes of huge sail fish using just this technique! (He whooped Jac's ass who tried to catch a fish next to him with a rod!). We caught 2 fish between the whole boat, both of which had to be returned as they were too small. (Very proud to say that one of those little fishies was mine, woo!).
We moved on to the swimming with Plankton part next and oh my word, it was so good! You couldn't see them from the surface, but if you whacked your goggles on, went underwater and waved your hand in front of your face, you could see the plankton glowing blue in their hundreds right in front of your face. The experience was amazing and to make it even better, the stars above your head were insane due to little light pollution out at sea. Overall all it was such a good trip... but we didn't cook any fish! One of the things that attracted is to this trip was the "cook what you catch" advertisement on the poster. It was $8 p/p so we were buzzing that that would include dinner too and thought they might still bbq us some fish when we didn't catch any. But nope! No bbq, which wasn't too much of a disappointment, but just be wary of this too!
Kbal Chay Waterfall
On our last day of our stay on Otres Beach, we decided to head out to Kbal Chhay Waterfall. It cost around $22 in a private TukTuk (because they'd run out of motorbikes), as apposed to a tour guide trip which costs around $10 p/p. We went for the TukTuk, as we didn't want to be limited on our time to mess about at the waterfall! We can honestly say it was our best day so far! The waterfall is amazing. You can't jump into the water beneath it, but you can scramble all the way down to the bottom and stand underneath it! There was hardly anyone there too, well... we were the only people actually underneath the waterfall anyway!
After the waterfall, we decided to walk along the river at the back of the waterfall where we could see loads of kids playing in the water and could hear dance music/traditional Khmer music being blasted through some speakers! When we got to where the people were having a party, we saw sooo much food all laid out in the middle of the tables, men and women dancing around chairs and 3/4 cool boxes full to the brim with Angkor Beer. We got talking to one of the men and he invited us to join them for a beer.. And another one.. And another one.. before you know it we were both absolutely bladdered, learning how to dance Khmer and celebrating with a load of Cambodian people we didn't know! The man told us that they were all celebrating his sons birthday and that they all go there on a Saturday to have a drink/party every few weeks when they finally have a day off. We stayed drinking with them all until about 3/4pm and then head back to our TukTuk driver, who had been patiently waiting for us to return. We would 100% recommend doing the same as us, going on a Saturday and hiring a TukTuk to take you there! Hopefully you might catch the same group people, if you do.. Top tip - "Chul Moi" in Khmer means cheers. "Choi Moi" means something naughty so don't get them confused as you'll end up offering out sexual activities to Cambodian men haha! Our video is below
Top Cat Cinema
Located on the centre strip of Sihanoukville, this place is excellent if you want a chilled night in. It's a pretty weird concept we've never seen anywhere, but it is totally unique and well worth experiencing. Basically, there is a load of bedrooms with comfy sofas, chilled lighting, a big TV, Xbox and a choice of about 4000 different films/ games to watch or play. So rock up, pick a time slot, pick a film and sit back and relax and watch a film! So simple, yet such a great idea! Rooms fit up to 20 people at a time and cost around $10 for two hours. You can have a 'smoke' here as well, or buy all sorts of 'happy' things downstairs to help you relax even more!
High Ropes Course
Whilst staying here, we went to the High Ropes course, located in the Lo-ah village around 13k from the Golden Lions Roundabout. We rented a motorbike, which cost $5 for the day. It took about 25 minutes to get there and we had our first little accident on the way! The roads are so bumpy and the back break didn't work on our bike, so we ended up skidding when trying to go over a bump and the bike fell over. Luckily, we weren't going very fast, so it didn't do any damage to the bike or us, but TOP TIP - be careful and slow down for every bump when on country roads. The course was ran by a really nice French man, it cost $6 for one way round, or $10 to go round as many times as you like. It was a really cool course, but it was very short so we'd understand why people may want to go round more than once! The owner is planning to extend the course eventually, at the moment you could do the whole thing in around 15 minutes. Worth going to though for $6, bigger and more established high ropes courses will cost you around $20-30 p/p.
The final thing we did was check out the Snake Farm (small Zoo), as we were running out of things to do and aren't ones for lying around on the beach. The Snake Farm cost $3 each and was worth checking out, but as with all Zoo's, it's sad to see wild animals in cages. Apparently, it is currently under construction so some of the exhibits were closed. We were lucky enough to make friends with a monkey whilst we were there, so that made the whole trip entirely worth it and we spent the whole time playing with this little chap!
Otres Village Market
We spent 3 nights on Otres Beach and then spent 2 nights in a Hostel in Otres Village. We saw a completely different vibe here compared to Otres Beach. There are tonnes backpacking hostels and amazing restaurants down the street. It had a much younger vibe here and it was so nice to finally not have sand falling out of places you didn't know you had! All that's left that really needs to be said is... If you have dreadlocks of any sort, you will fit right in here! There's a little event on at Otres Market in her village every Saturday from 4pm, we popped in to have a wonder round at 6pm and it looked really good, there were loads of little food stands selling over 30 different variety of foods, live music and plenty of little bars. Although, we left pretty quickly as we were suffering with the aftermath of drinking all morning at Kbal Cchay Waterfall.
We spent another two nights in Sihanoukville after returning from Koh Rong. We stayed at the Monkey Republic Hostel and Utopia. It was a change from our last two stays as we were right next to the Golden Lions Roundabout this time. There are so many shops, supermarkets, coffee shops, restaurants and markets around this area. The location is amazing for anyone who wants to be close to everything they would need for a few days stay. There's a recurring theme of Chinese restaurants and Greek restaurants here too, we recommend a Greek one called Fetta Pitta, the food was so good that we ate there 3 days in a row!
Scuba diving courses - there are 4 PADI diving centres in Sihanoukville and the Sihanoukville Port Area is the main hub for all of the dive centres from the Southwestern Cambodian Coast.
Beach hopping - Sihanoukville has over 23 beaches and plenty of surrounding islands such as Koh Rong, Koh Rong Somloen and Bamboo Island. Tour guide trips to these islands typically cost around $30 p/p, however you can get an open return fast speedboat to Koh Rong for $22 to explore the island and even stay in accommodation there instead (this is what we did).
Firework Display - every night at Serenditpity Beach. Free of charge!
Sihanoukville Central Market - we went here and though it was quite good! It's full of Khmer people selling anything and everything. Pretty good if you want to pick up some bargains!
Booze cruises - plenty of these leaving from Sihanoukville! For $25 p/p, it's a great way to party with new people with bucket loads of alcohol.
Cambodian Wat - For all you temple lovers, the Sihanoukville Wat's (Wat Krom, Wat Leu, Wat Ream and Wat Samathi) are beautiful and definitely worth visiting if you are into temple history and culture.
Visa's - Sihanoukville is also the place where you can get your visa for Vietnam if this is where you are heading to next! The safest and cheapest place to get your visa done is the Vietnamese Consulate. It's about a 5 min TukTuk drive or a 40 minute walk from the Golden Lions Roundabout. It cost $30 for a one month visa or $55 for a 3 month visa, which is a steal considering every hostel and visa service outside of the embassy will charge you $50 for a one month visa and $80 for a 3 month visa. We dropped our passports off in the morning, filled in the form and picked up our visas 4:30pm that afternoon. (FYI - it is open Mon-Fri. We finally realised this after two failed attempts to go get them done on a Saturday and then on a Sunday. You really do lose track of the days out here!!).