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Otres Beach in Sihanoukville

Otres Beach in Sihanoukville

  • Travel Location Sihanoukville
  • Past the southern end of Ocheuteal Beach, beyond the Phnom Som Nak Sdach (Hill of the King’s Palace) headland, lies stunning Otres Beach; a seemingly infinite strip of casuarinas that gives southern Thailand a run for its money. Although no longer the empty stretch of beach it once was, Otres has cleaner water and is more relaxed ...

OVERVIEW

When people talk dirty about Sihanoukville, they’re often really talking about Ochheuteal and its environs and all of the low-grade sleaziness that that place exudes like an infected wound. But there is very much more to Sihanoukville than this, with Otres a strong case in point. The beach itself is similar to Ochheuteal: three gently curved kilometres of soft, near white sand facing out to the southwest and an horizon studded with Sihanoukville’s famous islands. But the likenesses end there.

Video Travel Inspiration

In everything else, Otres is another world. Laid back, rural, and far less densely packed, Otres has a hippy haven kind of feel to it, though the first tentative steps towards gentrification have been taken and are already attracting a more mixed crowd. The beach itself is divided into three sections. Otres 1 is the northern end, with an abundance of cheap to mid-range guesthouses, late night bars, and some new, smarter developments springing up. Otres 2 is all the way at the southern end of the beach, where the general atmosphere is much more sleek, though you can still land some bargain bunks if that’s what you’re looking for.

Long eyed-up by large-scale developers, Otres has so far managed to shun major construction work and DIY development is blossoming with dozens of small-scale independent resorts and beach bungalow places in the area, including a handful of upmarket boutique hotels. Otres is split into three distinct sections: Otres 1 is the first and busiest stretch, while about 2km south is quieter Otres 2, separated by a slated resort development currently known as 'Long Beach'. Inland lies laid-back Otres Village, an up-and-coming estuary area.

Otres Beach is about 5km south of the Serendipity area. It’s a US$2 moto ride (remork US$5) to get here (more at night). If going it alone, follow the road southeast along the beach and skirt the hill by heading inland on the inviting tarmac. From the city centre, you can take Omui St from Psar Leu east out of town for 5km.

In between those two is an undeveloped stretch of sand topped by spindly trees. According to those we spoke to, there will soon be development along here but they are expecting big, flashy hotels to be built on the main road with a clear view out to the sands and sea. This is why, people say, a strict moratorium has been imposed on further building out from either Otres 1 or 2. That view must be kept unimpeded for the expected throngs of big spenders. It is also expected that the beachside hotels from Papa Pippo to Everythang will eventually be cleared by authorities, though like all things in Cambodia it’s not clear when or even if that is likely to happen.

However, as part of a response to that threat, some places have started to build elsewhere, namely Otres Riverside. This is a forested little enclave down the tracks to the south of Otres Village, and home to a host of alternative souls. It is also starting to see newer, smarter resorts being set up for those seeking a little more seclusion but still like their comforts.

While Sihanoukville is, for some, all about the beaches and access to the islands, there is plenty more going on too, especially at Otres 1. If quietly broiling under a relentless sun with sand in your pants and your food and your cocktails isn’t your idea of ideal, there is plenty more to do to keep away the horrors. Queenco Palm Beach has a mini-golf course, perfect for adults and kids alike. If that’s a little sedate for your tastes, then Otres Lodge has a volleyball court to get blood pressures up. Then you could dial it down again with a gentle game of petanque at Pat Pat Guesthouse, or go for maximum chill with a soothing yoga session at Done Right, which are held twice a day, at 07:00 and 16:30.

There’s also plenty of sea-based stuff to do. Mercifully, the jetflyers have been banned, but with steady winds blowing all through the high season, kitesurfing looks like it’s really taking off on Otres, and you’ll find Otres Beach Kitesurfing, which offers all the gear as well as training, opposite Papa Pippo on Otres 1. Sailors should head to Otres Beach Resort on Otres 2, where they can hire kayaks and Hobie wave sailboats for a trip out on the waves. Those same breezes make windsurfing off Otres an absolute dream, with a long stretch to skim along. In addition to windsurfers ($12 per hour), Hurricane Windsurfing at the top of Otres Beach, also has paddle boards ($9 per hour), and body boards ($7 per hour).

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