This used to be an easy question to answer in one single phrase: “Really 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 as little as you want.” There’s something for everyone now in Sihanoukville.
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 Ochheutea 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 Beach Road, offers dormitory accommodation for as little as $2 a night, or no dollars if you’ve been there all night and are too drunk to leave. In Otres Riverside, Hacienda offers a similar deal, though we reckon it won’t be the drink that gets you; the vibe is on a whole different scale of chilled.
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 $20 a night. In low season, for $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.
Super-cheap, but good-value, digs can be found around Ochheuteal if you’re prepared to dorm it. Monkey Republic and One Stop Hostel spring to mind. At Otres 1, Sea Garden has dorm rooms for as little as $4 a night, and Done Right goes all the way down to $3 in low season.
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 $30-$70 range, you can find them in abundance in the Ochheuteal area. 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.
If you’re looking for more low/mid-range accommodation, then around Ochheuteal Chochi Garden and The Tired Gecko are really excellent value compared to their peers, with beautifully decorated private rooms with bathrooms ranging from $13 to $25.
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 $65 in high season, or 20 percent less during the low.
That has been followed up with some gorgeously upscale resorts on Otres 1 and Otres 2, including Tamu Resort, which is rapidly building a strong reputation that may soon match that of Knai Bang Chatt. Newer additions to the mix include Ren Resort and Sahaa Resort, both of which match stunning design with prices running from $70 to $150 a night that you’d be hard pressed to match anywhere else in the world.
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 and a doggy bag if you go, would you?
By Nicky Sullivan
Last updated on 8th September, 2012.