While we are here in Guatemala, soaking in the sun, I know many of you guys are looking for a winter reprieve from the crazy snow that has somehow lasted this long. Here is a bit of sunshine to brighten up your day by Tammy of Tammy and Chris On the Move.
“You need me to shave your legs lady?” Whether you are a man or a woman, these words will inevitably be the first thing you will hear when you step foot on a Cambodian beach. If you decline, the hawkers will touch your leg to proof that there are indeed a few stubbles you should have removed. Welcome to Cambodia, the country of wonders, diplomatic sales women, but also beautiful beaches!
Most people who come to Cambodia only visit the ruins of Angkor Wat and maybe the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh. Only few people know that Cambodia has some lovely and deserted beaches though and despite the fact that on some of them you will bump into a few hawkers, these beaches are well worth discovering.
Cambodia has three beach communities: Sihanoukville, Kep and Koh Kong. The largest one is Sihanoukville which has the best beaches. But whilst the mainland beaches of Kep and Koh Kong are not as nice as those in Sihanoukville they offer their own charms and visiting the offshore islands around these communities is a highlight of any trip in my opinion.
Sihanoukville has seven beaches as well as some offshore islands. Locals and foreigners alike flock here to cool off in the Gulf of Thailand, although you will find that most locals tend to go to Ocheteaul or Hawaii beach. These beaches are filled with beach stands that offer cheap local Khmer food and you will find a lot of families with children here.
The backpacker hangout is Serendipity beach which is lined with beach restaurants and bars. A number of places open up right up to the beach sand so this is the perfect place for dining, drinking and gazing into the ocean. It is fairly crowded though and full of young backpackers so if you would like to go somewhere a bit more serene you can check out Otres beach, which is also cleaner and you won’t be hassled by hawkers all the time. It has got some very nice and laid-back bars and restaurants, but is a bit out of town.
If you want a bit more style then Sokha beach is your best bet. This is a private beach and part of the fancy Sokha Beach Resort. This is by far the cleanest, whitest and least busy beach on mainland Sihanoukville. We had lunch in the hotel and then used the beach all afternoon, but I am sure we could have also just gone to the beach without having ordered any food. Despite the hotel being fairly posh the food is actually quite cheap, so I found this to be the perfect escape for an afternoon.
My favourite beaches in Cambodia however are the beaches on the offshore islands, in particular Bamboo Island and Koh Rong off Sihanoukville and Rabbit Island off Kep. You can get to these islands by boat quite easily. Bamboo Island and Rabbit Island are about 1 hour from the mainland and Koh Rong about 2.5 hours. The boat trip is well worth the effort as all islands only have a few bungalows for rent at the moment and the bays are lined with beautiful white and deserted beaches. Fish and marine-life crowded waters make it great places for snorkeling and diving too. There is no electricity at night, which makes it the perfect spot for people wishing to fulfill their cast-away fantasies.
There is a lot of development work going on in all beach communities at the moment and islands and beach towns are flocking up new resorts all the time, so I’d go and visit soon before Cambodia’s beaches are as busy as their Thai sisters.
About the author: Tammy is one part of Tammy & Chris on the move travel blog. They are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football or 20th century history. In October 2011 they decided to stop pushing pens around the British civil service to work on human rights issues in Cambodia, and travel around Asia as much as they can.