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Revisiting Sihanoukville.


KhunHeineken

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I was last in Sihanoukville about 18 months ago and I am familiar with the place.  I have heard all about the over development by the Chinese and the infrastructure that can not keep up with the development.  I have heard about all the extra casinos being built and the associated money laundering, or getting the money out of China that is happening. 

 

I have read and heard that the Chinese have basically taken over Sihanoukville and how the place has changed dramatically.  I have decided to go and see this destruction with my own eyes. 

 

I am prepared to be shocked by what I will see, and what I can no longer see there anymore.

 

I have been told that many bars, casinos and restaurants do not allow westerners inside.  I'm not a gambler, so going to a casino is not an issue for me, unless there is a nice bar or restaurant inside that a member may recommend. 

 

Can anyone recommend some places that do offer a cold beer and a decent meal to westerners? 

 

I have booked a hotel but it's not the place I usually stayed at when in Sihanoukville.  It is, or was, on Serendipity Beach.  In fact, a lot of nearby places are also either fully booked out by the Chinese, or have been knocked down and redeveloped, so I am staying Downtown.  I am only staying for a few days, just to see what has become of the place.

 

Any current advice would be appreciated. Things like, what's the best beach, if any, for a swim now.  What bars are still around, normal bars or girly bars.  Maybe the name of a reputable motor scooter hire place.  Yes, I have heard the roads are terrible now.  Perhaps some information on what or where to stay away from now, as I have heard that crime has gone up as well.  Also, any hotel that has a swimming pool and/or a gym that charges a fee for a non guest to use for the day might be handy to know. 

 

Please don't post things like "don't bother going."  I have booked my air tickets and hotel, so I am going.  I do not look upon it as a holiday, more a been there, saw it for myself, never going back type trip.  I don't expect to be having a relaxing time there. 

 

Thanks in advance for any advice, current information and suggestions. 

 

KH

 

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It can't have changed that much, can it? I am in the Facebook group and the current beach pictures of Southern Ocheuteal are looking pretty nice, along with most parts of Otres. Also Hun Sen Beach near the harbour looks beautiful and you'd have the place mostly to yourself.

 

I doubt they knocked down all the eateries, there was just so many of them. My favorite was always Nyam. Awesome cuisine and IMO better than Thai food at $3 a plate. Just check current reports on Tripadvisor for which places are still there.

 

For renting bikes I can recommend the guy outside of Coolabah Resort. My buddy and me never had any problem.

 

Have you already booked your room? I would stay far, far away from downtown. From the pictures of the construction, the flooding, the pollution and the terrible roads it looks like an absolute warzone. Better stay in Ocheuteal or Otres.

 

Anyway, would be nice to hear a report from you. Last time I was there some 2.5 years ago and back then it wasn't bad at all. I remember Khmers outnumbering Barangs and apart from a few buses not a Chinese in sight.

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On my last visit there my experience was the same as yours.  While there were many casinos, it didn't change the place too much and it was still pretty laid back.  There were not many Chinese around at all. Certainly no big bus loads of Chinese getting around.

 

I have spoken to people and asked them questions like, "Is that still there?" The answer to most of my questions were, "No. That whole place was bought by Chinese and they have built a hotel or resort." 

 

I didn't want to stay Downtown but when I simply looked on Agoda for a mid priced room on Serendipity Beach there was very little availability and I did not leave my booking to the last minute and it is not a religious or public holiday when I am going.  This was the first alarm bells that got me thinking that everything I have read and heard must be accurate.  Have a look on Agoda and try to book something.  Have a look on Tripadvisor and you will see no reviews on many popular bars, restaurants and hotels for many months, which shows it's no longer operating. 

 

I know the motorbike hire place you are talking about.  Apparently Utopia and that whole corner is gone, so that means your motorbike shop guy is probably gone as well.  If you Google Utopia Sihanoukville you will see it listed as permanently closed. 

 

I have been told The Square that had many little open air bars is gone.  Same as Pub Street, it's gone.  Apparently there are only a couple of bars on Victory Hill where foreigners are welcome now.

 

Apparently, the popular with backpackers late night Dolphin Bar on the beach and all the bars along that strip are all gone.

 

I found a couple of places on Otres Beach and I booked one.  I was then told by a reliable source the tuk tuk drivers will not go down to Otres Beach because the road is that bad that they practically have to crawl through the pot holes and it takes them too long or damages their tuk tuk.  So I cancelled my Otres booking and booked a place Downtown so I could at least get around the place at night.  Even Downtown many of the place I know were booked out.   

 

I'm really just going to see the massive change in the place for myself.  I am bracing myself for the shock and disappointment. 

 

 

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Be very prepared for a shock, in fact many shocks!!!! Was there 2 months ago and couldn't believe the changes made since ewe were there 10 months previously. Only Chinese oriented beach bars now open at the far end of the beach. The first 2-300 metres of beach from the wharf is a a wasteland. All bars and guesthouses gone.

Still some good bars on the beach on the RHS of the wharf but not sure for how much longer. Mick and Craigs, Monkey Republic and Big Easy the only big name guesthouses/bars still standing. Most places closed through lack of staff - most rentals for Cambodians now 4 to 5 times what they were a year ago.

Otres probably about a year away from the same process and yes roads are bad, tuk tuks will go there but want a lot more money now.

Koh Rong still the same but as you land you can see out to the left a new concrete wharf being built which means that vehicles and building products will be now be able to be landed so don't expect to see it remain as unaffected as it is now.

Kep seeing similar changes (but smaller and slower) and in Kampot there is a lot of talk of Chinese investment but little activity apart from up on Bokor Hill where the old abandoned casino has been fully restored and is back in business (Chinese visitors ONLY enforced by security staff) in less than 12 months.

Saw this video before going there and half of the buildings shown on Beach Rd are now gone.

Our spot of choice was the Beach Rd Hotel - still open but half has been demolished and prices tripled. They still have (or had, who knows now!) the pool open so you may be able to sort a price to use it.

Sadly this place is now off our must visit list.

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I visited in April this year for the first time and will never return. Spent 4 days in Sihanoukville and that was 4 days too long, the place is as dump and over run by Chinese. We did manage to find decent places to eat mainly near the Golden Lion roundabout you will find a very good Italian restaurant "Olive & Olive" at the start of the road to the pier but beware of the huge flies that bother you while you eat. A previous posted mentioned The Big Easy which is also good I liked their pancakes.

For girly bars theres a cluster set off the road just before you get to the roundabout opposite.. a row of casinos. Its not very obvious to find but when you do it runs in a horseshoe shape and has a mix of mostly bars and some eateries. Some very nice girls here some demanding $100us LT which is crazy money for a Cambo girl considering thats a months salary for a normal Cambodian for one nights work. 

Pub Street is a dump and didnt see any girls of quality did a quick round and straight back out but ymmv.

 

Good luck.

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Pub St (Golden Lion Plaza) has been dead for a long time. Or are you talking about the bar street in Victory Hill? The last time I was there that place was 80% dead but with all other girly places pretty much gone you would think that place must flourish by now? What happened to all the freelancers in Dolphin and that other beach bar?

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19 hours ago, Kiwisailor said:

Be very prepared for a shock, in fact many shocks!!!! Was there 2 months ago and couldn't believe the changes made since ewe were there 10 months previously. Only Chinese oriented beach bars now open at the far end of the beach. The first 2-300 metres of beach from the wharf is a a wasteland. All bars and guesthouses gone.

Still some good bars on the beach on the RHS of the wharf but not sure for how much longer. Mick and Craigs, Monkey Republic and Big Easy the only big name guesthouses/bars still standing. Most places closed through lack of staff - most rentals for Cambodians now 4 to 5 times what they were a year ago.

Otres probably about a year away from the same process and yes roads are bad, tuk tuks will go there but want a lot more money now.

Koh Rong still the same but as you land you can see out to the left a new concrete wharf being built which means that vehicles and building products will be now be able to be landed so don't expect to see it remain as unaffected as it is now.

Kep seeing similar changes (but smaller and slower) and in Kampot there is a lot of talk of Chinese investment but little activity apart from up on Bokor Hill where the old abandoned casino has been fully restored and is back in business (Chinese visitors ONLY enforced by security staff) in less than 12 months.

Saw this video before going there and half of the buildings shown on Beach Rd are now gone.

Our spot of choice was the Beach Rd Hotel - still open but half has been demolished and prices tripled. They still have (or had, who knows now!) the pool open so you may be able to sort a price to use it.

Sadly this place is now off our must visit list.

 

Thanks for your post.

 

I have stayed at The Beach Road Hotel many times.  It was my first choice to book on this trip, but I could not get a room there this time.  It was booked out.  I then looked at other nearby places, and the only places with availability were the hostels with dorm beds.  Pretty much all of the hotels I remembered on Serendipity Beach were either gone, or fully booked. 

 

The Beach Road Hotel did allow non guests to use the pool, if you ate a meal or bought drinks, but who knows now. I will call in for a beer and see what they have done there.

 

I also expect this to be my last trip to Sihanoukville as well. 

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17 hours ago, natway09 said:

I look forward to a full report on your return.

You will be very disappointed

I and prepared to be disappointed.  It's also likely that this will be my last trip to Sihanoukville.

 

I will post a report when I return.

 

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17 hours ago, barmatt said:

I visited in April this year for the first time and will never return. Spent 4 days in Sihanoukville and that was 4 days too long, the place is as dump and over run by Chinese. We did manage to find decent places to eat mainly near the Golden Lion roundabout you will find a very good Italian restaurant "Olive & Olive" at the start of the road to the pier but beware of the huge flies that bother you while you eat. A previous posted mentioned The Big Easy which is also good I liked their pancakes.

For girly bars theres a cluster set off the road just before you get to the roundabout opposite.. a row of casinos. Its not very obvious to find but when you do it runs in a horseshoe shape and has a mix of mostly bars and some eateries. Some very nice girls here some demanding $100us LT which is crazy money for a Cambo girl considering thats a months salary for a normal Cambodian for one nights work. 

Pub Street is a dump and didnt see any girls of quality did a quick round and straight back out but ymmv.

 

Good luck.

I remember Olive & Olive.  Good food there.  From what I have heard, the over development is at such a fast pace that who knows if the restaurant is still there.  I will let you know when I return.  

 

I am familiar with The Big Easy.  Thanks for the tip on the pancakes.  I will check them out.

 

I'll look for the bar complex you describe.  Thanks for the information.    

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10 hours ago, quandow said:

The scuba diving there is shit.

I'm not a diver so that's not an issue for me.  I notice a lot of backpackers do their first diver there, probably because it's cheaper than elsewhere in South East Asia. There was a popular dive shop a couple of doors down from The Beach Road Hotel.  I will see if it's still open. 

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3 hours ago, wump said:

Pub St (Golden Lion Plaza) has been dead for a long time. Or are you talking about the bar street in Victory Hill? The last time I was there that place was 80% dead but with all other girly places pretty much gone you would think that place must flourish by now? What happened to all the freelancers in Dolphin and that other beach bar?

From what I have been told, The Square is gone.  It has been built over.  Several sources have told me this. 

 

Dolphin Bar, and all the bars to the left of the pier are gone.  My favorite was Martini Bar for a swim and some lunch.  I was told this is because the Chinese will be building some type of hotel or resort in which they will probably say the beach in front is a private beach. 

 

I have been told all the bars on Victory Hill, except for a few, have been bought by the Chinese and westerners are not allowed in them.  So bars may still be there, but may as well not be if you are a westerner.  I will also check that out. 

 

I was told Pub Street or Golden Lion Plaza is gone, as in, not dead, as in, built over gone.  Some posts on this thread conflict with that so I will check it out. 

 

As for the hookers in the town, whether they be in a bar as staff or freelancing, many freelances around South East Asia are using phone apps now, so they don't have to go to nightclub. 

 

Most of the information I post comes from a guy who lives there, but was looking to leave, and I met him on his search for a new place.  He was last there about 6 weeks ago and has since gone back to sell up and move. 

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Just stay away , I rather take 1 week in PP than that place. 

They are ruining it , if the Chinese suddenly run out of money it will end up like a ghost town . 

 

 

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How about the French restaurant/bar/ beach called SUSADAY , across from the beach , left side as you go down to Ocheatal beach ?? Great food, Bruno’s a real cook, great fun hangout, hope it hasn’t gone, but don’t think so as I would have heard on the grapevine.The Chinese are ruining everything everywhere.

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17 hours ago, VBF said:

Has anyone stayed (recently) at The Beach Club Resort, on Tola Street run by a dutch lady named "Luna"?

Their website http://www.beachclubcambodia.com/ seems dead but when I stayed there in February 2013, it was great. You could see mucho development going on in that area though.

I tried to book there also.  No availability on Agoda website.  Also, some reviews on Agoda about the place were not the best, but I take a lot of them with a grain of salt.  Like, people saying "we saw a cockroach in our room."  Hardly a deal breaker for me. 

 

I will check it out for you.

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17 hours ago, geisha said:

How about the French restaurant/bar/ beach called SUSADAY , across from the beach , left side as you go down to Ocheatal beach ?? Great food, Bruno’s a real cook, great fun hangout, hope it hasn’t gone, but don’t think so as I would have heard on the grapevine.The Chinese are ruining everything everywhere.

If you Google it you will see it listed as permanently closed.  There have been no reviews on Tripadvisor for it for some months now.  It has probably been built over. 

 

If I can find any long term expats there I will ask if Bruno is still around and if he has a new restaurant somewhere. 

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17 hours ago, balo said:

Just stay away , I rather take 1 week in PP than that place. 

They are ruining it , if the Chinese suddenly run out of money it will end up like a ghost town . 

 

 

As I said, I am going.  I've already booked the flights.  It's not a holiday for me, just a quick visit.  I am only there a few days and will view the massive change for myself. 

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On 10/12/2018 at 7:32 AM, wump said:

Pub St (Golden Lion Plaza) has been dead for a long time. Or are you talking about the bar street in Victory Hill? The last time I was there that place was 80% dead but with all other girly places pretty much gone you would think that place must flourish by now? What happened to all the freelancers in Dolphin and that other beach bar?

Pub street is has been demolished. The beer bars near Golden Lion roundabout have been demolished. The bar street in Victory hill is dilapidated and filthy. Many places are boarded up or abandoned. Only a few sad bars are left with a few Chinese customers. Some small cheap shops and restaurants in that area have Chinese signs and Chinese staff.  

 

In general it is hard to find any restaurants with "Khmer Food and Western Food" signs from before. I only saw a handful. All the rest were abandoned or taken over by Chinese owners selling Chinese food to Chinese people.

 

I've been to Sihanoukeville about 15 or 20 times since 2004. Went a couple of weeks ago to see if it really was as bad as the Cambodian's were saying. The changes in the last year or so are shocking. I saw in the Phom Penh Post that there are about 40,000 Chinese there now. Workers in construction, casinos, hotels, restaurants plus tourists. That's an invasion for a place of 100,000 people. 

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KhunHeineken, had many a good night with great wine at reasonable prices in Susaday. Yes, I’m wondering where Bruno and family are, any news would be welcome. I’ll start looking myself. Last saw them two seasons ago,2016, and  all was fine then for them. 

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22 hours ago, Ketyo said:

Pub street is has been demolished. The beer bars near Golden Lion roundabout have been demolished. The bar street in Victory hill is dilapidated and filthy. Many places are boarded up or abandoned. Only a few sad bars are left with a few Chinese customers. Some small cheap shops and restaurants in that area have Chinese signs and Chinese staff.  

 

In general it is hard to find any restaurants with "Khmer Food and Western Food" signs from before. I only saw a handful. All the rest were abandoned or taken over by Chinese owners selling Chinese food to Chinese people.

 

I've been to Sihanoukeville about 15 or 20 times since 2004. Went a couple of weeks ago to see if it really was as bad as the Cambodian's were saying. The changes in the last year or so are shocking. I saw in the Phom Penh Post that there are about 40,000 Chinese there now. Workers in construction, casinos, hotels, restaurants plus tourists. That's an invasion for a place of 100,000 people. 

Thanks for your information. 

 

Can you recommend any places for a meal and any bars for a cold beer?  Sounds like a stupid question but I have been told westerners are refused entry to the majority of establishments there now. 

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21 hours ago, geisha said:

KhunHeineken, had many a good night with great wine at reasonable prices in Susaday. Yes, I’m wondering where Bruno and family are, any news would be welcome. I’ll start looking myself. Last saw them two seasons ago,2016, and  all was fine then for them. 

I have been told many Sihanoukville expats have relocated to Thailand and Vietnam, with some moving down the road to Kampot / Kep.  I'll ask around, but have been told the higher prices are now pushing out the local people as well.  It might be difficult to find anyone that has been there for a length of time. 

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On 10/14/2018 at 12:19 PM, KhunHeineken said:

I have been told many Sihanoukville expats have relocated to Thailand and Vietnam, with some moving down the road to Kampot / Kep.  I'll ask around, but have been told the higher prices are now pushing out the local people as well.  It might be difficult to find anyone that has been there for a length of time. 

most of those i knew that lived in snv moved to Kampot or Koh Kong

Unless u have wife/gf ,family kep is to dam slow

NONE went to thailand ( most started off there  )  LOL

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On 11/2/2018 at 5:00 PM, scotinsiam said:

KH - have you been yet? any news on the state of the place now?

 

Ok, so I am typing this post from Downtown Sihanoukville.  I have been here 2 days now.  WOW. WOW. WOW.  Any words I post will not describe what has become of Sihanoukville but I will try to describe my experience and back it up with photos. 

 

I have taken many photo but can mot post them all.  I will post a few general photos and a few photos of places that I and other members have mentioned in past posts.

 

Think Beijing by the sea.  Think Macau.  Think Las Vegas in Cambodia.  All of these describe what has happened here and what is continuing to happen.

 

 

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On 10/11/2018 at 5:06 PM, natway09 said:

I look forward to a full report on your return.

You will be very disappointed

I don't remember Sihanoukville very well from 6 - 7 years ago but as with most places rather than say  "you will be very disappointed", I think I'd say it'll be what you make of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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53 minutes ago, watcharacters said:

I don't remember Sihanoukville very well from 6 - 7 years ago but as with most places rather than say  "you will be very disappointed", I think I'd say it'll be what you make of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I agree, but I will say Sihanoukville is not an easy going laid back place now.  Traffic is terrible.  Roads are terrible.  Power blackouts are very frequent, as are water shut offs.  Of course these things are to be expected in South East Asia and they happened before here, but the frequency and duration are a lot lot worse.

 

Photos coming shortly.

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This is the first time I have uploaded photos on ThaiVisa.  I am sure other members have better cameras than me and know the website better than I o but I will try my best. 

 

There is a lot of fake things on the internet so I will post a photo of what I have seen and then try to post a photo showing a landmark to show the photo is correct or have some landmark included in the photo.

 

If I am 100% sure of my photo I will put it forward which is what I have done in this post.  If I have a slight doubt I will ask for forum input.  This place has changed so much it has become a little disorientating. 

 

Photo 1 is what has become of The Beach Road Hotel.  Probably why I couldn't book a room there.  😭

 

Photo 2 proves it's The Beach Road Hotel.  You can see the big road sign on the crest of beach Road.  The tree that covered where you parked your motorbike is still there.

 

Photo 3 is what has become of The Reef Resort.

 

Photo 4 is remnants of Utopia.  It's fenced off pending development.

 

Photo 5 is the Utopia corner.

 

Photo 6 is what became of The Led Zephyr. I liked the casual live music there.

 

Photo 7 is for the member that mentioned the motorbike hire shop on the Utopia corner.  Gone.

 

Photo 8 is where Dolphin Bar and Martini Bar and a few other were.  You can see the step you had to walk down from the Beach Road entrance. Also fenced off pending development.

 

I will read the thread again after this post because I think there were some other requests. 

 

ThaiVisa has been a great help to me for information over the years and so I am happy to give back to members and the website.  If any member has a request for a recent photo you can post here and I will try to get it.

 

Tomorrow I will post some photos of the huge casinos that have been built on long standing hotels that many on this forum would  know and will write a little of my experience. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, watcharacters said:

I don't remember Sihanoukville very well from 6 - 7 years ago but as with most places rather than say  "you will be very disappointed", I think I'd say it'll be what you make of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was distracted and hit the post button.  I wanted to add that I will make the most of my time here.  As you suggest, to be positive about my time here.  This is not a problem for me as it's in my character to do so and I have already started to relax after doing a lot of exploring and I am now finding my way here again. 

 

I don't mind a bit of Peking duck so I will try to enjoy some Chinese influence while I am here. 

 

I must say though, Sihanoukville has become an almost impossible place for relaxing over a coffee or a beer or a meal.  First impressions on my return is it has become a bustling city. 

 

Otres Beach is still holding on but I will post photos tomorrow showing Chinese development will probably be there in a year or so as well. 

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