Nov 05 2012
When you reach the foot of the pier at the bottom of Serendipity Road in Sihanoukville, look to your left and you’ll see three-kilometre long Ochheuteal Beach. Turn to your right and you’ll see a verdant, rocky headland. Take a walk along the footpath that leads to the headland and you’ll pass a row of seven similarly laid-out places to stay; this is what I call Serendipity Beach’s bungalow row.
Visitors tend to come to Sihanoukville for two reasons: to party or to relax. The guesthouses along Sihanoukville’s bungalow row appeal to both types of visitors. The partiers just have to walk up Serendipity Road or along the Ochheuteal beach walk to be in the middle of the late-night party zone. Those who want to get away from it all can do so simply by staying put in their hillside bungalow.
While the lay-outs of all the establishments on bungalow row are similar, they are by no means identical. Some bungalows are older than others and show signs of wear, while others obviously had a bigger budget to work with when they were built. Each place has its own atmosphere and some use their menus as drawcards for customers.
After passing Jams and the Nap House nightspots, you come to the first guesthouse on bungalow row. House of Malibu has a motel-style layout behind its Korean restaurant. Tranquility Guesthouse, too, is on relatively flat terrain. Tranquility’s two claims to fame are inexpensive rooms and their “award winning chilli in Sihanoukville Cookoff.”
Next in line is Coasters. Something of a Sihanoukville institution, Coasters is another budget spot. The hill starts getting steep here and Coasters’ timber and thatch bungalows have balconies for taking advantage of the wonderful sea views.
After Coasters, the bungalows start to get a bit more upmarket. First you come to the Aquarium’s brick bungalows, followed by the Mango Rooms, which boast “homemade desserts” on their menu.
According to a few guests we asked, Above Us Only Sky, the next establishment along the footpath, is one of the two most well-appointed guesthouses on the row. It certainly lives up to its name, because when you look up at their balcony-fronted bungalows, they really do seem to end where the sky begins.
The Cove is the largest of the establishments along bungalow row, taking up about twice the area of the others. It seems to be divided into two sections, an older section with brick attached rooms high on the hill, and a newer section with timber bungalows stacked on top of each other next to that. If you’re a pizza lover, you’ll appreciate the Cove’s clay pizza oven, but you don’t necessarily have to stay there to enjoy one of their pizzas. Take away is available.
Finally, there’s Cloud 9, the other reputably best establishment on bungalow row. After that, you step off the footpath and find yourself in a wonderfully untrammelled part of Sihanoukville. Take the narrow path that sometimes peters out and becomes a scramble over the rocky headland and eventually you’ll arrive at Sokha Beach.
If there’s a downside to Sihanoukville’s bungalow row, it’s the noise from the late night bars around Serendipity Road. One guest at Cloud 9 told us he could hear the music even from there. It all depends on how much the music bothers you, though. Normally, hearing “Hotel California” blaring from a bar’s speakers drives me crazy, but we stayed at Coaster’s once and the music, although audible, wasn’t really overwhelming and was compensated for by the wonderful views from our bungalow’s balcony.
With rates ranging from $8 per night for a cold water/fan only single room to a height-of-the-high-season asking rate of up to $90 for an air-con two-bed deluxe bungalow, it’s a good idea to book ahead if you want to stay on bungalow row. Either book online or take a walk down the footpath and find the best deal you can. Rates can be negotiable, but it depends on the establishment and the demand at the time.
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