Sep 03 2012
I love the rainy season in Sihanoukville. Why? Believe it or not, it’s because I spend more time outdoors during the monsoon than I do in the dry season, when I spend the best hours of the day hiding from the heat and sun.
As the photo above illustrates, when it rains in Sihanoukville, it doesn’t mess around. Downpours rarely last, though. On the day I took this photo, we made the 20 kilometre, half-hour trip out to the waterfall on motorbike under the welcome shade of cloud cover without having to endure so much as a drizzle. When the deluge came, we ducked inside one of the many covered restaurants in the park and waited it out over lunch.
I’ve been to Kbal Chhay waterfall in both seasons and prefer the wet by far. The streams and waterfalls are reduced to a trickle in the dry season and what swimming holes are available are so packed with Cambodian kids, there’s no room left for a big barang. True, when the river is in full flood, going for a dip would be suicidal, but the falls are at their best for viewing and the surrounding landscape is at its verdant best during the big wet.
The same theory applies to the city of Sihanoukville in the rainy season. Flexibility, not planning, is the key to getting the most out of Sihanoukville in the rainy season. Nobody can predict when a rain storm will arrive. When you feel the wind pick up and the air gets cool, you have about five minutes to find shelter. When it’s raining hard, that’s a good time to find a pleasant place to eat. When the storm passes, the cloud cover makes sightseeing and shopping a much more pleasant experience than it is in the midday dry season heat.
If the rain sets in for the day, as it sometimes does, you can always kill a couple of hours at the Top Cat or Galaxy cinemas on Serendipity Road. Both cinemas have big-screen theatres and private rooms. If you’re hungry, snacks are available or you can have pizza delivered to your room.
If you want to get out of town and explore, just arrange covered transport and you’ll be fine. Take a tuk tuk out to Otres Beach, for example, or share a taxi or tuk tuk and go to Ream National Park. If a serious downpour arrives, you can always save a trek through the park for another day and go have a look at Wat Ream instead.
Officially, the rainy season runs from June to October, but weather patterns are changing everywhere. One thing Sihanoukville has going for it that Bangkok, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap do not is that it is not flood prone. While those cities have flooded, Snooky was never more than ankle-deep in water.
Another reason why I love Sihanoukville in the rainy season is because the sun sometimes shines for days on end and there’s much more elbow room at the beach. Between rains, the air is so clear it seems like you could reach out and touch the islands and there’s nothing quite as beautiful as a monsoon sunset in Sihanoukville. Find yourself a quiet spot facing west, put your feet up, and enjoy.
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