Sihanoukville or the Côte de Cambodia

Beach restaurant in Sihanoukville
When we were in Siem Reap, a „hotel bus“ where you can actually lie flat for the twelfe hour journey to Sihanoukville sounded really nice. So we booked it for 17 USD (14 EUR) each. The double bunk (if you're travelling alone you might prefer a reclining seat instead of sleeping next to a stranger) was too short for my limbs, but still quite comfortable, expecially if you like cuddling tight with your (travelling) partner and your hand luggage. The 14 hours on the bus were truly bone rattling. Most of the road between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh is a construction site and the bumpyness wont let you get much sleep.

Night bus from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville
Arrived in Sihanoukville, we quickly negotiated for a taxi who brought us for 3 USD (2.5 EUR) to our guesthouse just off Serendipity Beach, the most popular of the city beaches. After a decent breakfast and some rest, we went to discover the playa. It's nothing beautiful compared to Thailand or Indonesia, but it was relaxing for a couple of days. And as we knew we'd go to the jungle afterwards, this was all we were looking for.

Or so we thought. Because things always turn out differently than expected when you're travelling. Thanks to a little research, we found out that the consulate in Sihanoukville is currently the easiest place in South East Asia to get a visa for Vietnam. Some travellers even reported getting the visa on the spot! So the next morning we set out for the consulate. As we had used up all our passport fotos before, we had to get some first. A nice tuk-tuk driver agreed to take us frist to the foto shop, wait there for us, then to the consulate and finally back to Serendipity for 5 USD (4 EUR). The fotos were also a good deal: 2 USD (1.6 EUR) for eight pictures. All done, we just had to wait till the next morning to get our passports with the visa back.

Lazy afternoons on the beach
The rest of our days in Sihanoukville are quickly told: late breakfast or early lunch, followed by an afternoon in comfy beach chairs, reading, writing and playing cards, occasionally talking to one of the many elderly Westerners in search for young Khmer girls and having dinner at our favourite restaurant, The Big Easy. We haven't found such great steaks elsewhere in South East Asia. Especially with their delicious homemade blue cheese sauce!

All in all, we can't recommend Sihanoukville a 100%. It's an easy place to relax a couple of days, but it's nothing nice (loads of unfinished buildings, ugly hotel complexes and shabby shacks) and the locals on the beach are a bit too eager to sell you a massage or bracelets. We heard the islands about an hour away (Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloen) are quite nice and still pretty unspoilt. If we have to cross Sihanoukville again during future trips, that's where we would head directly.

More pictures from Sihanoukville


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