With its radiant stretch of white sand and clear shallow waters, Sokha Beach wins our vote for the most eye-pleasing and relaxing beach in Sihanoukville.
The beach is backed by the huge Sokha Beach Resort, the first — though no doubt, not the last — truly flash hotel to plunk down in Sihanoukville. Although it's a shame to see one resort dominate the sand, at least they look after it well: the beach is near-always clean and the water sparkling. There is a very shallow drop off here, so you can wander a long way out into the water before it gets deep, making it ideal for those with young children.
The resort has 80% of the beach reserved for guests, which leaves only the 20% near Malibu Bungalows open to the public. Beyond the giant dragon's tale that marks the end of Sokha terrain (the goofy head can be seen inside the resort grounds), the public area is pleasant enough, but it can see a bit of litter.
Although you're likely to be caught if sneaking into the private part of the beach, you can buy your way in. The cost of a day pass is $10 for adults, $5 for kids under 12, and free for little ones under five. These prices are on the steep side in our humble opinion, but it also gets you access to the Sokha pool and playground, and local vendors are strictly not allowed on the private beach so you won't be pestered by trinket sellers.
If seeking a rural Cambodia setting rather than swish hotel beachfront, walk to the tiny fishing village at the corner of the peninsula that divides Sokha beach from Independence beach. The coffee in a hole-in-the-wall shop here won't be served by a well-dressed waiter who speaks excellent English, but it will taste just as good, if not better, and cost a fraction of the price.
Text and/or map last updated on 1st January, 2013.
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Sokha - Nice Beach with a Big Resort
I thought long and hard about visiting Sihanoukville while planning our 2nd trip to Cambodia. It gets a pretty bad rap which in most instances it deserves but I thought I would always wonder what it is like if I did not see it for myself. On purpose I choose to stay at the Sokha to insulate us from the sleazy side and I am so glad I did.
We got a nightly rate of $100 including tax, breakfast and free wifi through Agoda – so I was happy with that. I asked the hotel if they could match it and they couldn’t – I think their hotel management practises are a little in the dark ages. We had two rooms – the most basic – ocean room superior which meant no pool or ocean view - with a connecting door. The rooms are not the most modern but they were fine for our needs – large and comfortable beds, nice bathroom, safe, TV and balcony.
It is a large typical resort on a nice beach that could be anywhere in Asia. It was actually a really, really huge resort with many different accommodation and conference centre areas. I would hate to be there when it was completely full.
I was not looking for the best beach being an Australian but it was good enough to spend a few days there swimming and sunning. The beach was fine and I loved the fact there were no hawkers. The beach was also kept very, very clean. The water wasn’t crystal blue and sparkling but it looked ok and we certainly did not get sick. I was a bit surprised that there was no life guard as in other Asian resorts we have stayed in. Waiters would come along as well and offer food and drink services. The water sport recreation area is right down near the Lemongrass restaurant which is a long walk.
My son was really disappointed as the promise of jet skis was not a reality. The hotel had put them away for the season – although they allowed private jet skis to go off their beach. I know a lot of people don’t like jets skis but 12 years old do and non guests were making a noise anyway off the private beach. Anyway in the end they did us a favour as the price was $45 for half an hour. On Serendipity Beach it was only $25 (and we probably paid too much!). No jet ski scams from what we saw as in Thailand.
The large pool was great. You have to sign for your beach/pool towels which is a bit of a pain but ok. Plenty of sun beads, umbrellas and a swim up bar and cafe beside it.
The prices for services as with most big resorts are more expensive than elsewhere but for food and drinks they were not outrageous. We could still have a crab dinner for around $10 and what they call lobster – more like yabbies for the same. We loved the Lemongrass Restaurant which is in the grounds but quite a walk away – you can catch one of the golf buggies if you don’t feel like the walk.
The spa services prices were outrageous as was the price for a taxi price back to Phnom Penh. They wanted $160 one way. We paid $45 through Ana Travel – which I organised online. This was for a good driver and car with seat belts and air conditioning.
Breakfast was in the front restaurant overlooking the pool. It was very good – not as big in choice as some other places we stayed in but still had lots of choice. The morning wait staff were great and our waiter which we had everyday – always remembered our coffee preferences and would deliver it without asking.
Room service menu was limited but fast. I also asked them for a few items not on the menu and they happily provided them. They also were happy to deliver buckets of ice.
We ventured out to Serendipity Beach which my husband really hated. I didn’t mind it so much but the presence of drugs, gap year kids bombed out and prostitution is there for all to see. We only visited in the middle of the day so I can only guess what it is like at night! That said on the day we were there, which was a Sunday, there were also lots of Cambodian families having a good time – eating, swimming and drinking. For food you can get 10 lobster tails delivered to your beach chair for $2 and other food and cheap drinks.
The town of Sihanoukville itself is totally forgettable but has ok supermarkets for snacks and alcohol drink re supplies. As with all of Cambodia alcohol purchases from supermarkets it is really, really cheap. We also picked up lunch time snacks like ham, cheese and bread to have in our room or on the beach.
The Sokha has an irregular shuttle bus to the beach and town supermarket and when we could not catch it we paid $2 for a tuk tuk. Of course they tried for more – especially into town but just remain firm. Look out for tuk tuk number 8 – always outside the main supermarket where the resort bus drops you off – really fair and good knowledge of places to eat.
I wouldn’t go back to Sihanoukville but I am glad I saw it and the beach break was great.
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By swatral (dabbler)
Written on 10th July, 2011 after a visit to Sokha Beach in June, 2011
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