Serendipity and Ochheuteal beaches occupy the same stretch of sand, from the rocky promontory near Cloud 9
to Chheuteal Creek near Queen Hill Resort
. The entire stretch of beach is technically named Ochheuteal, but many visitors consider the western end Serendipity, and the stretch further down to be Ochheuteal. For the location tagging of our listings, we consider the dividing line to be the dirt road that goes from the tourist police box near Apple Guesthouse
to the beach between Angkor Beach Bar and In My Dream, with Ochheuteal on the east and Serendipity to the west. Either way, these two beaches are congruous, so we've conflated both into the same article.
A popular party spot
Ochheuteal at Night
Serendipity and Occheuteal are by far the most popular beaches in Sihanoukville with both tourists and expats alike, and is located just a short walk from the Golden Lions roundabout. Ochheuteal is a beautiful long sandy beach with bars and restaurants along most of its length with numerous guesthouses and hotels on the adjacent roads. It begins at the northern end with Serendipity beach and stretches about three kilometers to the southeast. The western end seems to be more popular with the international visitors and expats with the Khmer weekend visitors tending to favor the more southern end towards Otres.
Eat, Drink and Enjoy
Fun, Inflatable Water Toys
During the day the beach is full of people swimming and a variety of in-water entertainment and activities, or for simply lying on a sun bed with good food, cold beer, a cocktail or a good book. In the evening, Serendipity Beach bars such as Dolphin Shack
and Sessions, which tend to appeal and cater to the partying, backpacking crowd, tend to get quite lively and stay open until the wee hours. The first block of bars on Ochheuteal, from In My Dream, Martini Beach
and The White Dragon (formerly Kelly's Shack) are quite popular with those looking for good music and drink, but without the noisy revelry of the backpacker bars. These bars tend to close a bit earlier due to the lessened foot traffic, but usually always stay lively and full until at least midnight. From around 5pm, most establishments along the beach will offer the ubiquitous $3 Khmer BBQ, offering fresh seafood, beef, chicken and spare ribs. Although on the surface, each place seems to offer exactly the same thing, each beach shack has it's own subtle differences in marinades, meat quality and quantity.
Past the first block of Ochheuteal beach shacks, most the establishments along the beach tend to cater more to the Khmer crowds, with a few foreigner-owned and themed places along the way (such as Khin's Shack). Weekends and public holidays are bustling with Cambodian families from upcountry and Phnom Penh who've come to enjoy a weekend away. These shacks operate very differently than the more full-service places mentioned before, as Khmers will bring their own food and drink and pay for the chairs they will use that day.
Lots of Tourists equals Lots of Hawkers
The unavoidable fruit-sellers and bracelet kids
Arguably the biggest downside to Serendipity and Ochheuteal, but not unique to Asian beaches that attract massive amount of holiday makers, comes the unavoidable pestering from the hawkers, and it's only fair we prepare you for the onslaught of women offering massages and pedicures, as well as the hordes of the infamous bracelet kids you will encounter. Being a poor country, Cambodia has its share of child hawkers who trudge up and down the beach all day selling bracelets and sunglasses. We like to discourage people from buying anything from young children on the beach, not only does it keep some of them out of school (some actually do go to school for half-days), it also encourages them to stay out late where they are vulnerable to abuse. It should be noted that some employ very aggressive sales tactics... the most common is the "I give you one for free" scam, where they weave one around your wrist, and then subsequently attempt to sell you another at an inflated price, and not leaving you alone until you cave in. Buying from one will almost always attract more, each of them trying to extract a little money from you. To avoid an uncomfortable situation, it's best to politely decline with an "Awtay Awkoon"... they will simply move along. Pickpocketing, of course, is always a problem when people with money to burn are around people with nothing, and the same precautions should be heeded here as anywhere in the world; don't flash your money and always keep it in your front pocket. Bag-snatching incidents are still fairly uncommon along the beach, but ladies should still carry their purses with the strap across the chest as opposed to over the shoulder.
A lodging style for everyone
Ochheuteal and Serendipity have a wide range of hotels and guesthouses in close proximity with prices ranging from about $80 at the top end down to good rooms with fans at places like Markara
, Apple Guesthouse
. Places such as Utopia
and The Big Easy
offer dormitory-style accommodation from free to $3, which is ideal for the budget traveler. Some bars will also hire travelers who are looking to save money - with free accommodation, food and drink in exchange for light bar work.