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. Make sure you pick a spot you’ll be happy to stay in for a good hour, and never leave your guesthouse without a book or other diversion so you are well prepared. 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.
The rainy season can be the best time to be in Sihanoukville, or anywhere in Cambodia. There is nothing so delicious as the cool, lightness of the air after a spectacular rain storm washes the deadening heat out of the day. It’s true that up until that point you may progressively feel more grotesque and sweat-soddenly elephantine, but you can’t have highs without the lows.
There are other advantages too. Being less crowded means that it’s easier to enjoy wherever you are, whether it’s the beaches, waterfalls, forests. It also means that it’s easier to negotiate your room rates.
And certain parts of Sihanoukville, like the Kbal Chhay waterfalls, are infinitely better during rainy season than dry season, when they are reduced to little more than a slow stream. And the brown brush of December gives way to rich, vibrant greens everywhere you turn. The sunsets are better too.
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 never gets more than ankle-deep in water.
By Nicky Sullivan
Last updated on 3rd September, 2012.