When I think about my time in Sihanoukville, I struggle to come to a conclusion on how I feel about the place. Described in the lonely planet as the party capital of Cambodia, I didn’t expect too much. Beaches, bars and booze – yup that’s basically what we got. After pretty much travelling mainland throughout our trip, at the sight of seeing a stretch of sand and some sea we were all keen for some sun and swimming. But whether I liked Sihanoukville or not? I’m still not sure. So, here’s what I thought of Sihanoukville; the partying and the beaches, which is, in a nutshell, all there is to do there!
We only really checked out the nightlife along Sihanoukville’s main beach, Serendipity and this seemed enough, to be honest. After hours the bars dotted along the seafront come alive, blaring out trashy club music, full of westerners necking cheap shots. One of the positives about partying in Sihanoukville is that there is a lot of opportunity to get ‘free’ or at least extremely cut-price drinks. From certain times most bars have a drinks promotion or offer a free beer or shot to customers. Don’t expect much though, the beer is often the cheapest available and the shots usually taste like a watered down fruit cocktail. But still, a freebie is a freebie and we did manage to have some pretty inexpensive nights outs in Sihanoukville.
As the night lingers on most people make their way from each bar to the last one, JJ’s Playground. There you will find late-night partiers dancing on tables and people sprawled out drunk in the sand. Which is no doubt a lot of fun if you’re drunk enough! Yet despite the flurry of free drinks and inexpensive buckets, we spent most of our time pre-drinking on $3 bottles of whisky from the local shop on the beach. We had a good group with us, and it was nice to sit round drinking and socialising together without feeling compelled to dance to clichéd club hits and bad remixes (although we did undoubtedly end up at JJ’s a couple of times!).
The beaches in Sihanoukville were okay, but nothing to write home about, to be honest. The sand was quite white and pretty nice, but the water murky, especially on Serendipity beach.
We decided to rent out bikes one day to explore more of Sihanoukville, and made our way to Otres beach, which we had been told was a lot nicer. Indeed it was a fair bit better, and we spent an afternoon/early evening there swimming in the sea and watching the sunset with horses trotting past. I do love a good sunset.
During our bike ride, we also got to see a bit of the countryside. There were plenty of cows and greenery to see which was a pleasant contrast from the bars and booze of Serendipity beach area.
For me, Sihanoukville is what it is. If you’re looking for somewhere to party inexpensively ‘til the early hours of the morning and relax on the beach in the day, then perfect. Just don’t expect too much from it! We met loads of great people from all over the globe there but at the same time met many fellow Brits (usually!) who were simply there for the sole purpose of downing vodka ‘til they were puking in the sand.
I would recommend anyone to check it out if they have the time, but to MAKE SURE to check out the nearby island of Koh Rong, where I found that both the parties and the beaches outdid Sihanoukville. It was my favourite place in Cambodia and perhaps even where I’ve travelled to so far – and I will be writing about how much I love it next!