Oh man. I have spent the last 6 days in the South East of Cambodia in Sihanoukville and it’s been incredible. Sihanoukville is the beach! And what a beach it is.
From Phnom Phen, I hoped on a bus that I was told would leave at 7:30am and take 4 hours. Great, I thought, here’s my $7. The reality was it left at 9am and it took 7 hours! It was a wonderful introduction into transportation around Asia. There is no rush and you’ll get there when you get there so, relax.
The bus ride was actually pretty great! I met friends. I read. I listened to podcasts. I relaxed and took in the views. And once we got to Sihanoukville, it was all worth it. I stayed at The Monkey Repulic hostel and it’s about a block from the beach. Once, I checked in, I dropped my bags and went straight to the beach. The beaches are so beautiful here! They are all white sand, swaying palm trees and turquoise waves that are warm as warm bath water. The first night, I watched the sunset while letting the waves lap at my feet and then walked back to my hostel for dinner.
My hostel in Phnom Phen was very clean and quiet. It was nice to have a quiet place to return to in the crazy city but, there wasn’t a lot happening at the hostel in terms of mingling. The Monkey Republic got reviews for being a party hostel so, I was nervous going in to how it would go. However, it’s low tourist season because it’s the end of the wet season (it’s rained a couple of times but nothing crazy. No monsoons) and was very chill. The great thing about the hosel was they have a huge restaurant/lounge area where everyone just goes to eat, read, mingle or play pool. I would hang out there in the evenings eating my dinner and reading. I ended up having great conversation with two economists from Australia this way and I liked being in the center of activity with no pressure to hang out with people if I didnt want to. I could be introverted and feel like I wasn’t missing out on anything at the same time. Dream life.
Sihanoukville itself didn’t have much to offer. The beach was beautiful but, deserted. There is an amazing vegan restaurant called Dao Life that has amazing food and is right on the ocean. I highly recommend their smoothie bowl and reading on their open patio. I spent Friday and Saturday morning doing just that and it was heavenly! Friday, I laid out on the beach in Sihanoukville. I brought a small “purse” with my room key and $5. I was warned to not bring anything valueable to the beach because there is a high chance of a left. I thought I would be fine. However, I took a beach nap and my makeshift purse, with my room key and $5, was stolen from my bag! I took it as a good lesson learned and was very grateful all that was taken was $5.
Being that it was low tourist season and the beach was so empty, I decided to head to beach further down called Otres that friends I met on the bus had headed too. It’s about a 20 minute tuk tuk ride away from Sihanoukville but, felt like a world away. Otres is 100% the place to go in Sihanoukville. The beaches are even more beautiful and more clean. THere is a huge expat scene and a lot of backpackers who linger around for weeks at one of the cute hippie hostels, not able to tear themselves away. I was in heaven! I somehow managed to find my friends from the bus without having their number or knowing where they were staying and lounged in the sun with them for a couple of hours. When they were ready for naps, I continued to wander down the beach. I stopped to swing on a tree swing and journal. I stopped to frolick in the ocean and just bask in the moment. I stopped to have drink from a coconut so large, I could barely hold it. When the clouds started to roll in, they usually do around 4pm, I grabbed a tuk tuk to Otres village to explore the night market. Unfortunately, and the guidebooks didnt note, it’s closed until December or high tourist season. I was so bummed! I did poke around the village and there were lots of cool hostels and guest houses. Lots of expats running around. Walking athrough the village, it felt like a place I could live for awhile and be totally content. What more do you need besides the beach, a couple of coconuts and a good hammock?