At first glance, the shopping options in Sihanoukville might look slimmer than a mankini. But there are fun things to be found, some of which are even a little more practical, and attractive, than a mankini.
Starting off with the practical, if you’re looking for biscuits, razor blades, batteries, crackers, sun cream or condoms and many of those things that fall in between, then small general stores lie at the very bottom of Serendipity Beach Road (on the left side as you’re looking the ferry pier), and also at the top facing onto the junction with Mithona Street (we couldn’t for the life of us see the name for this one). These have a tardis-like ability to cram an awful lot of stuff into a very small space, and are a must-stop if you fancy putting together a rudimentary picnic before heading out to the islands.
If you’re on Otres, you could try one of the numerous tour operators that line the strip at Otres 1. Besides organising your day trips, onward travel and moto-hire, they also stock a wide range of useful things including sunscreen, swimwear and snacks.
If your needs/appetites are larger, then head to Samudera, behind the Sokimex on Ekareach Street in downtown Sihanoukville. This has virtually everything you’d expect to find in a supermarket, with lots of French brands in the mix. Closer to Ochheuteal, Lucky Mall is certainly cleaner and brighter but so well-organised that it has less space for stock.
Book fans enjoy surprisingly rich mystery pickings from the secondhand books shops at Casablanca in Mick & Craig’s Guesthouse, as well as Q&A Book Cafe on Mithona Street. This is a bookshop and simple cafe with more than 3,000 titles to choose from while enjoying the friendly service.
Two doors down from there, you’ll find Elements, a groovy, alternative kind of shop with lotions and potions for whatever ails you, silver jewellery, crystals, talismans and hippy-style clothing. In a related but different vein, Bodia Nature has a shop on Serendipity Beach Road that sells their popular range of natural, high quality soaps, massage oils, essential oils, bath salts, gels and shampoos.
Agarthara at the bottom of Serendipity Beach Road also has a wide selection of sweet-smelling and natural cosmetics and toiletries. After a day in the sun, one of the best things you could do for yourself is slather on their gorgeous light but effective aloe vera and coconut oil gel.
Fashion fiends are not forgotten either, so now there’s no need to don those elephant pants and mortify the gods. Zoco has a collection of quirky clothing that the owner has sourced from across Asia. Bold colours and prints and unusual designs seem to catch her eye, and the range is generally broader and a lot more interesting than the sister store in Siem Reap, even though it’s smaller. A similar concept can be found at Unique, where the clothing, shoes and accessories tend to be a little more feminine and hippy(ish). Both of these shops scour the markets across Asia for their wares, so the stock changes constantly.
A couple of doors up, The North Face Store has a selection of North Face gear which they say is genuine, and cheap(er).
Back on Serendipity Beach Road, a small row of shops is topped by Rogue, where you can pick up trendy clothing and the latest tunes and movies.
Just next door, you can shop with a conscience at Tapang’s, the social enterprise created by M’Lop Tapang, a highly-regarded NGO that has been working with Sihanoukville’s street children for more than 10 years. They have a wide range of colourful and useful products, made or designed by members of their programmes, including clothing, toys, shoes, iPod covers, bags and homeware. The creativity and finishing standards are a lot higher than one might be fooled into expecting from an NGO.
Tapang’s also has an outlet at Sandan, the hospitality training restaurant created by Friends International and operated by M’lop Tapang. In addition to the products above, you’ll also be able to get your hands on the stunning cookbooks created by Friends for their branches across Cambodia and Laos, including the international award-winning From Spiders to Water Lilies. (Disclosure: this book was edited by one of the Travelfish.org founders. Go buy it!)
Agarthara: Serendipity Beach Rd, Sihanoukville.
Bodia Nature: Serendipity Beach Rd, Sihanoukville.
Casablanca: Serendipity Beach Rd, Sihanoukville.
Elements: Mithona St, Sihanoukville.
GBT Mini Mart: Serendipity Beach Rd, Sihanoukville.
Lucky Mall: Ekareach St, Sihanoukville.
(No Name) Minimart: Serendipity Beach Rd, Sihanoukville.
North Face Store: Opposite North Face Plaza, off Serendipity Beach Rd, Sihanoukville.
Q&A Book Cafe: Mithona St, Sihanoukville.
Rogue: Serenidipity Beach Rd, Sihanoukville.
Samudera: 7 Makara St, Sihanoukville.
Sandan: 2 Thnou St, Sihanoukville. Tapang’s: Serendipity Beach Rd, Sihanoukville.
Unique: Opposite North Face Plaza, off Serendipity Beach Rd, Sihanoukville.
Zoco: Serendipity Beach Rd, Sihanoukville.
By Nicky Sullivan
Last updated on 30th May, 2015.