Sihanoukville, Otres Beach, Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem 4D3N getaway 2018

Day 1

Our trip to Angkor Wat and Phnom Penh in 2012 was an incredible experience. Cambodia is an amazing and  very safe country with friendly people, good food and not so expensive hotels. We had always wanted to visit this beach town, Sihanoukville since two years back. But due to the hassle of flying to Phnom Penh and take a 4 hour bus ride to this so called little Macao put us down. So when Air Asia started this new route direct from KL to Sihanoukville, we quickly booked.

And finally we arrived at Sihanouk International Airport at around 12.45 pm local time. (KL is one hour earlier).

Landed at the Sihanouk International Airport

There is no aerobridge at this airport

This airport is very small. There is no shop at all at the airport, only two taxi counters. There is no scanning machine to scan the luggage, all using human eye-scan. They will ask you to open your luggage if they feel like it! Luckily we were not asked to.

Empty arrival hall

Immediately we took a taxi to our hotel at Otres Beach 2. It costs us USD 20 for a 10km ride. It took us about 30 minutes to reach our hotel at Secret Garden. The road to the hotel is bumpy and dusty with a lot of trash on the way! It looks like they don’t have a proper system for the disposal of trash. The rubbish is just stacked up at the back of the restaurants and homes waiting for the dump truck to come and collect.

Everywhere you can see rubbish stacked away at the back of restaurants or hotels

Our chalet – Lily

Full of green vegetation at this hotel

Small swimming pool at the hotel

Check-in was fast. After a rest, we went to the restaurant across the sandy road at the beach front to have our welcome drink. You can choose either Angkor Draft or fruit juice. Incidentally, beer in Cambodia is very cheap. You can get a can of beer for only USD0.50.

Restaurant at the beach front

Welcome drink

Then we walked along the beach to enjoy the seaside. The air is fresh and crisp. The sand is fine and soft. It is white and pristine. Otres 2 beach in Sihanoukville is very quiet and peaceful compared to other beaches like Otres 1 or Serendipity beach. Over there, there are more activities and they are more vibrant. 

Soft white pristine sand beach in front of the restaurant

The weather was very hot. We decided to take a tuk-tuk to town to explore. We asked the hotel receptionist to help us to call a tuk-tuk as Cambodia is not a very safe place to move around according to the hotel receptionist which we didn’t quite agree!  He asked for USD15 for a 2 hour round trip to town. We agreed. The road to town is extremely bad, bumpy, dusty and also smelly!  It’s only about 10 km in distance and it took us 30 minutes to reach not because of heavy traffic but due to the condition of the road.

Tuk-tuk waiting for us to go to town

We stopped at the Golden Lions roundabout to take some pictures. In fact this is the landmark of Sihanoukville. We walked around while the driver waited for us. We entered one of the casinos as this little town is full of casinos! But inside it was almost empty with only a few patrons playing the slot machines.

The famous landmark in Sihanoukville, the Golden Lion roundabout

Small casino like this can be found everywhere in Sihanoukville town. They are not posh like the casinos in Las Vegas

Another casino that we saw

Then we proceeded to the minimart to buy some fruits and drinks. Finally we went to Serendipity beach to have a look. This beach is more popular with the youngsters especially the European backpackers and tourists from PRC as you can see a lot of Chinese restaurants catering for the influx of tourists from PRC. The beach here is crowded and filthy. You can see trash everywhere! Also the pier to go to the two most popular islands, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem is also situated here.  

The busy Serendipity Street

Petrol here is expensive; 1 liter of RON 95 costs USD1

Serendipity Beach

At Serendipity Pier

Got attracted by this homemade ice-cream; but not very smooth. 3 scoops cost USD 3

Another part of Serendipity Beach.

Dinner was at the hotel restaurants. We had some local food, Luk Lak and Ambok!

Day 2

Simple breakfast at the hotel

As a snorkeling enthusiast, snorkeling to the 3 islands around Sihanoukville is a must-go itinerary.

At 8.45 am, our pre-booked tour agent was at the hotel to pick us up for the 3 island snorkeling trip.

This time we took a motorbike tuk-tuk

We booked the trip through Karmakazi Tours operated by an European

 

If this ATM machine is in Malaysia, it would be stolen long ago!

There is no pier or jetty to board the long tail boat. We had to wade through the water to reach the boat.

Altogether, there were 10 of us excluding the boatman; a young Chinese couple from PRC, an elderly couple from Belgium, 2 young Danes from Denmark, 1 young guy each from Slovakia and Netherland. There wasn’t any safety briefing on the trip. There were life jackets but we were not  asked to put on. The poor boatman had to do everything from pulling the anchor to maneuvering the boat and later on I found out that he had to cook for us too! Luckily the water was calm and the weather was fine as it was raining the day before.

Our great companions in this trip

Relax…

The first spot for our snorkeling trip was at Koh Chan Loh. Koh means island in Khmer. Alas the water was quite murky and there were not many fishes. The corals are quite colourful, green, purple and pink! Over here the boatman didn’t guide us to snorkel; we just jumped down on our own! We snorkeled around 45 minutes before we headed to Koh Ta Kiev, the second largest island in Cambodia.

The first island Koh Chan Loh

We docked at the beach and were allowed to explore the island for 1 hour after which we would be back to the boat for lunch. Actually there isn’t much you can see at this island. There is a small resort catering for backpackers and there is a mango plantation. Nevertheless the beach is clean and beautiful. We just relaxed at the beach with the hammock swing to enjoy the sea breeze and the picturesque scenery. Some immersed themselves in the water under the hot mid-noon sun while some went for jungle trekking. The boatman was busy cooking in the boat. At 1.00 pm noon,  lunch was ready. At first I was quite skeptical and apprehensive about the level of hygiene. Well, you didn’t have any other choice other than to savour whatever is presented to you! It’s just white rice, salad and fried chicken. There is free flow of drinking water and soft drinks. Surprisingly the chicken was nice and crispy.

At Koh Ta Kiev beach

Lunch on board the boat

Frying chicken in the boat

Swimming under the hot sun!

After lunch, it was time for some adrenalin! Yes we were going to the Elephant Rock for cliff jumping. Everyone was excited especially the two young guys. This is one of the most exciting activities for youngsters. When we reached there, the boatman told us that it was low tide so it was not suitable to do cliff jump! Not convinced by the boatman, the guy from Slovakia decided to dive down with his underwater camera to gauge the depth of the water. Alas, it was only waist length! So everyone was disappointed for not being able to jump! By right the boatman or the tour agency should check for the tides the day before so as to plan the trip. If it is high tide in the morning, then we should go to the Elephant Rock first.

Equipped with an under water camera, the two guys went down to gauge the depth of water

Then we proceeded to the last island, Koh Tres. Again the water was not clear, visibility was poor. Here we got to see a lot of sea urchins! We snorkeled for about 30 minutes before returning to Otres Beach.

Snorkeling at the third island, Koh Tres

We walked along the beach and the Otres Village to see for ourselves the livelihood of the Cambodian people. You could see that a lot of Cambodians are still living below the poverty line.  Most of the houses are in squalid conditions, just simple shelters built on stilts. Then we took a tuk-tuk back to our hotel. (USD3)

At 5.30 pm again we came out of the hotel to the beach front where we just lazed on the beach lounging chairs to enjoy the sunset glory with silhouette of the fishing boats.  A lot of people were already at the beach waiting for the beautiful view of the sunset.

Mom had a foot massage while waiting for the sunset. USD 5 for a 1/2 hour session

Sunset glory

Day 3

A trip to Sihanoukville would be incomplete without island hopping to the 2 paradise islands at Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem. We booked the ferry tickets through the hotel. It was USD22 per pax including hotel pick-up to the pier at Serendipity beach. At 8.00 am, a lorry tuk-tuk came to the hotel to pick us up. On the way to the pier, it also picked up several passengers from other hotels. The speed ferry departed at 9.15 am which was supposed to depart at 9.00 am. In Cambodia, the locals are not punctual when it comes to time. At 10.00 am, we arrived at Koh Rong.

At the pier of Koh Rong Island

The main street of Koh Rong

Well, Koh Rong is  very vibrant, with more tourists especially backpackers staying at this island. There are a lot of activities you can do in this island. Besides scuba diving and snorkeling, you may opt for nighttime boat tour to glimpse the bioluminescent plankton that glow in the water or more commonly known as blue tears. Jungle trekking and kayaking are also available in this island. There’s also moon light party at the island and there are a lot of restaurants and backpacker’s lodges.

Thai cuisine is very popular in this island as the island is quite near to Thailand. In fact, we had Pad Thai for lunch at Khmer restaurant operated by a European. This island is very popular among the Europeans. There are some local villages in  this island.

After lunch, we took a ferry to Koh Rong Sanloem. Know what? The whole ferry was full of Europeans except two of us! It took us 1 hour to reach this island.

Pier at Koh Rong Sanloem

This island is more quiet and peaceful with long stretches of white pristine beaches.  There is no local inhabitant here, only resorts and restaurants. So if you prefer a quiet and relaxing holiday, this island is perfect for you. You can spend your time swimming in the crystal clear cobalt water or sun bathing at the beach. 

One of the resorts at this island

Met the three petite ladies from UK in the same tuk-tuk on the way to the pier, one Nepalese medical doctor, one Spanish nurse and the other one is a Spanish student. Then we parted. They went to Koh Rong Sanloem and we went to Koh Rong. Then met again at this island.

We walked along the long stretch of beach enjoying the beautiful scenic beaches and returned to Sihanoukville at 4.00 pm ending our island hopping!

An innovative way to catch fish at the pier

Then we walked to Enocafe Coffee & Wine Bistro at Ochheuteal  Street 500 to try out the famous pizza and ice-cream! It was highly recommended by Tripadvisor. Then we took a tuk-tuk back to Ren Hotel at Otres 2 beach. (USD 7.00)

 

Day 4

It was our last day in Sihanoukville. So we woke up late as we didn’t have any itinerary in the morning. We checked-out at 11.00 am heading to Sihanouk International Airport for our flight back to Malaysia.

It was a memorable and enjoyable trip minus the ugly trash all over the town!

 

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About HP Lim

An experienced Form 5 chemistry teacher from Johor Bahru.