Sihanoukville: Otres Beach
Get There: 15 minute tuk-tuk trip from Sihanoukville
Situated in comfortable and yet practical distance to Cambodia’s own little STI-ridden hell also known as Sihanoukville, Otres Beach is everything the city isn’t. You can even hang out at the beach without getting ambushed and abused by naked Western promoters that lost their dignity in the distant past and now have adopted animal-like behaviour. Indeed, my advice to you is to get off the bus in Sihanoukville, avoid eye contact with anyone around you, get in a tuk-tuk and go straight to Otres where they will serve you a Frisbee full of herbs and let you pet the furry house bunny until your nerves have calmed and you have regained faith in humanity.
The first time I went to Otres Beach it was a modest strip of about 15 hostels and bars all serving local food and shabby rooms for a really good price. Second time I went, a year later, the strip had doubled, and as there was no vacancy, we had to relocate to a newly-developed strip called Otres 2, about 10 minutes walk from Otres 1. With a heavy heart I saw that fancy resorts, bars and shops had diminished some of Otres’ initial charm, but was happy to realise that the low-key places that I had made wonderful memories were still intact and hadn’t changed a bit. Needless to say, Otres Beach might have expanded even more since I visited last year, but I would still recommend checking it out if only to escape Sihanoukville for a day or two.
While you’re there, you should enjoy the beautiful beach and clear ocean and not be fooled by the “happy herb” pizza advertisements – there is nothing happy about the pizza other than the melted cheese. Head over to Blame Canada, a bar that will serve you said weed Frisbee and bunny cuddles, go check out the cool mushroom huts at “Mushroom Point” and go along for the spontaneous beach yoga sessions that are on from time to time.
Otres Beach might turn out to be another place in the South-East Asia region becoming slowly infected by harmful Western investment and inconsiderate travellers, but for now it’s a little piece of serenity and you can be sure it’ll provide all-round good times.