Candid, independent reviews of the best places to stay in Sihanoukville. From quality traveller digs to luxury hotels - handpicked by Rusty Compass.

Sihanoukville
hotels guide

Introduction

| 02 Jun 2014
Last updated 02 Jun 2014

Sihanoukville and nearby islands Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloen are changing quickly (too quickly in fact) and new hotels and resorts are coming online all the time. Options include everything from Cambodia's most expensive resort to the cheapest of backpacker digs.


Backpackers travelling to Sihanoukville tend to drift to Serendipity Beach which offers inexpensive digs right by the town's booming party and 50 cent beer scene. But unless that's what's drawing you to Sihanoukville, Serendipity isn't a great place to stay.

Otres Beach, around 5km south of the backpacker epicentre is a much better budget option with a cleaner beach and a more mellow, less sleazy vibe.

There are a bunch of basic but nice bungalows just off Otres beach too.

If something a bit more comfortable takes your fancy, take a look at Sokha Beach Resort. It's a tad bland but the beach is very nice - although it was looking pretty grubby on my most recent visit.

Better again, the wonderfully quirky Independence Hotel, built in the early sixties, combines history, vast green grounds and a superb beach setting. It's something of an artefact of the optimistic days of Cambodia's post independence period. Former King Norodom Sihanouk had a role in its interior design.

With the right owner, it could be a very special place to stay. And it's not a bad option right now.

Two offshore islands, Koh Rong and its small neighbour Koh Rong Samloen are fast becoming destinations in their own right. The introduction of regular high speed boat services that take around 45 minutes, has made them very accessible for the first time. They're set to boom.

The accommodation options on Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloen are basic - no aircon, internet and only limited electricity.

Koh Rong has become the backpacker party venue so it's the place if you're into that stuff.

Koh Rong Samloen, while still favoured by backpackers, is mostly more chilled. That may change now that access is so much easier.

There are a handful of simple bungalow resorts on Saracen Beach, Koh Rong Samloen - which is a beautiful strip of sand.

Not far away, Eco-Sea Resort (where I stayed) seemed overpriced and lacking in atmosphere. Food was ordinary as well. It's OK but there seem to be better options.

Lazy Beach gets the best reviews of all the places on Koh Rong Samloen - including from friends and acquaintances. I haven't seen it. The hardware and beach are similar - although this place has put in a little more effort -  and the owners also go the extra distance to give the place a great feel.

Song Saa Resort off Koh Rong is Cambodia's most exclusive resort and is accessed by boat from Sihanoukville. I tried check it out during my most recent visit to the area - without success.


Sokha Beach Resort

Sokha Beach Resort is around 5 years old and looks over one of the nicest beaches in Sihanoukville. It's a fairly stock standard 4 star beach resort with all the frills. The white sand beach is its best feature though the water looked decidedly cloudy on my most recent swim.

It's owned by the same very powerful local interests (Sokimex) that manage Angkor Wat and seem to have a hand in many of the most lucrative commercial ventures in the country.

Sokha Beach Resort is close by the restaurants and bars of Serendipity Beach if you want to head out for a meal or sample the cheap beers and dubious cocktails of the backpacker strip.


Sokha Beach Resort
Street 2 Thnou Sihanouk Ville, Kingdom of Cambodia
Tel: +855 34 935 999
Fax: +855 34 935 888
Email: reservations@sokhahotels.com
Web:    www.sokhahotels.com


Independence Hotel

Dating back to Cambodia's golden period in the early 1960s, Independence Hotel is a more quirky option in another area of town with loads of character. The beach here is also good.

The seven story building that opened in 1963, sits in the middle of a forested promontory with great views over coast. It's a magnificent setting.

French designed, it's a classic piece of modernist architecture and Norodom Sihanouk is said to have had a hand in the interiors as well - though it's hard to know how much of that has survived. The building was occupied by squatters during the Khmer Rouge period.

Independence Hotel
Address     :     Street 2 Thnou, Sangkat No: 03, Khan Mittapheap, Sihanoukville, Kingdom of Cambodia
E-mail     :     info@independencehotel.net
Web:             www.independencehotel.net
Telephone     :  (+855) 34 934 300


Song Saa Private Island

Song Saa Private Island, 35 minutes by boat from Sihanoukville in the Gulf of Thailand, is Cambodia's most exclusive resort for those wanting to spend up big.

At more than US$1000 per night, I mean spend up real big.

It's so exclusive that they made it pretty much impossible for me to check it out during my recent visit to the area. I wasn't asking for a freebie - just a look and an opportunity to check out their sustainable and responsible tourism projects. First I couldn't get a response to my emails. When I finally did, I was advised they wouldn't provide a boat transfer - despite my flexibility - which meant I couldn't get there.

The resort runs strongly on its eco - responsible travel credentials with the line "luxury that treads lightly".

If you're interested, check it out. They've had plenty of gushing publicity from the mainstream travel press. There are also lots of very positive reviews on tripadvisor.

So if you have a spare few thousand dollars to spend on light treading luxury, this may well be a good choice.

Song Saa Private Island
Song Saa Island 35kms from Sihanoukville
www.songsaa.com
+855 236 860 360
reservations@songsaa.com