Sihanoukville, Cambodia is one of those destinations where it is very important to find the right place to stay. The town is sprawled across a large area and divided into several neighborhoods. Pick the wrong guesthouse from an out-of-date guidebook, and you could easily find yourself surrounded by old men with teenage Cambodian girlfriends, paradise for some, not appealing to the rest of us.
It’s easy to see why so many people have a bad time in this place, but all it takes to enjoy Sihanoukville is a little inside information. If you do your research before coming, Sihanoukville will blow you away. Empty beaches or full moon parties, great Japanese food, jungle trekking – this town has something for everyone. Finding the right spots takes a little effort, though.
The most crucial first step is to set yourself up with a good home base where you can relax. For me, that means a clean, inexpensive room in a quiet neighborhood, ideally a small family run place, with great food being a big plus.
Here are four recommendations that fit the bill in Sihanoukville. Geckozy Guesthouse's peaceful garden is my favorite place to relax. As a writer, the affordable wireless internet is a big draw, even better, are the convenient location and price – I’ve paid a lot more for a lot less. Geckozy is only a block from the heart of downtown, but it feels like a country chateau from the French colonial days. The restaurant is seldom busy, but the food is pretty darn good. Pasta meals are a solid value that include salad and bread for around $2.00. The rooms are thoughtfully decorated, with singles and twins from $4.00 to $6.00.
Lovely Guesthouse is the first place I stayed in Sihanoukville, and I still stop by often to eat great home cooked meals and visit with the wonderful Cambodian family who run the guesthouse. Lovely is located behind the Golden Sand Hotel close to Ocheauteal, the busiest beach in Sihanoukville. The rooms are a decent value at $3.00 to $5.00, but not exceptional. What makes the place special is the friendly atmosphere and the delicious curry.
Cloud Nine is the best of the cluster of guesthouses on Serendipity Beach. It’s more than twice the price of Geckozy and Lovely, but the bungalows are secluded – the view is sweet, the action is close by and the mango smoothies are tops in town.
Monkey Republic is the place for those who want to have a bit of a party, prefer hooking up with one another to buying sex from locals. The bar is busy, the bungalows are cheap and Serendipity Beach is right down the road – a good place to make friends.
Looking to get off the beaten path? Here are a couple of ideas. Otres Beach – quiet for now, but a beach this nice doesn’t stay chill for long. Get there before the crowds arrive. Otres is the beach east of Ocheauteal.
Want to feel like an explorer? Koh Rong has world class beaches and not a single indoor toilet – at least none I could find.
Plenty of places run day trips for around $50.00, or poke around at the fishing port and bargain for a cheap ride. Kep is a former resort town near the Vietnamese border with war-scarred ruins of seaside villas and the best seafood in Cambodia. Oh, and Japanese food? Try the sashimi at Kukai, down the road from Monkey Republic.
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