Sep 08 2012
How much does it cost to stay in Sihanoukville and its surrounds? That used to be an easy question to answer in a single phrase: “Not much.” These days, however, you’ll find a much larger spread — read below to see just how very large — so the answer’s become, “As much or little as you want to pay.”
In the past, the majority of Sihanoukville accommodation catered to backpackers looking for the basics. Those places still exist, but newer guesthouses, bungalows and resorts are springing up everywhere — from Ochheuteal to downtown — to cater to flashpackers and other travellers who are looking for more than just a bed, a cold shower and a fan.
Backpackers who like to stay where they play can certainly still find cheap accommodation in Sihanoukville. For example, Utopia, the popular nightspot on Serendipity Road, offers dormitory accommodation for as little as US$2 a night. Just across the road, Led Zephyr has hostel-style rooms with shared toilet and shower facilities behind the nightclub for a few dollars more.
If cheap accommodation on the premises of a night spot that can stay busy until nearly sunrise doesn’t appeal to you, dozens of older guesthouses offer comfortable rooms for well under US$20 a night. For US$10 or even less, you can have a double bed, a private bathroom (sometimes with hot water) and cable TV. Pay a little more and you’ll get hot water, air-con and often WiFi.
If you’re looking for a comfortable bargain spot, the older guesthouses on Victory Hill and downtown may be your best bet. Now that the beaches south of the Golden Lions are being developed, pretty much their only way of competing is on price.
That’s not to say you can’t find budget accommodation on Serendipity Road or near Ochheuteal beach; in particular, keep an eye out for older looking hotels or guesthouses. If you’re there in the high season, though, especially around Christmas, you may be out of luck as they fill up fast at that time of year.
One thing you don’t want to do is take your motodop or tuk tuk driver’s advice. They will inevitably steer you towards the accommodation that pays them the best commission and/or the one they hang out in front of, waiting for customers.
Things start to get more interesting when you look for more upscale spots. If you’re looking for a comfortable family-style hotel room or bungalow in the US$30-70 range, you can find them in abundance in the Serendipity Beach area and on the streets running parallel to Ochheuteal Beach. Those with pools, like the Coolabah Resort on Mithona Road, are on the higher end of that scale, but don’t cost a fortune, especially in the low season, between May and October, when rates can often reduced by around 10 to 20 percent.
The opening a few years ago of Pagoda Rocks Boutique Resort — an upscale spot complete with infinity swimming pool and gourmet restaurant on a hill on the fringes of Sihanoukville — was more of a bold than a hesitant step, but it paid off. Demand for accommodation in this peaceful garden resort opposite Wat Leu has been so great that the owner added five more bungalows and a larger family suite in 2012. Currently a bungalow at Pagoda Rocks will set you back US $60 in high season, or 20 percent less during the low.
Just a few years ago, locals would have laughed at the concept of a non-smoking family bungalow at a mini-resort with a pool on Otres Beach — but that’s exactly what Secret Garden at Otres Beach offers. And even though it’s located on the still relatively undeveloped far end of the beach, it’s already a popular place to stay. The cheaper places on Otres however are the timber bungalows on the beach side of the road, where brick accommodation is not allowed.
While technically not in Sihanoukville, at the area’s most exclusive resort, Song Saa Private Island, prices start at a little over US$2,000 per night and top out at a little over US$5,000. Send us a postcard if you go, would you?
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