When I first visited Cambodia, I foolishly only allowed myself four days to spend in the entire country.
I spent all of my time exploring the temples of Angkor and didn’t venture outside of Siem Reap. Despite having seen only a tiny, tiny part of the country over such a short time period, I instantly fell in love with Cambodia and left wishing I had more time, desperate to see more.
So when Dave and I began plotting our return to Southeast Asia, I was immediately pushing for a month in Cambodia — and was thrilled when Dave agreed! This time around I wanted to spend all of that time exploring the coast and was planning on visiting Sihanoukville, Koh Rong, Kampot and Kep. In my mind, I had a vision of holing up in a cute, cheap bungalow on the beach and spending a few weeks writing.
A vision of something a little like this…
Papa Pippo Bungalows on Otres Beach.
Otres Beach in Sihanoukville was my first stop in Cambodia and I actually ended up spending three weeks here in total.
I’d heard mixed opinions on Sihanoukville and from my initial research I’d come to the conclusion that Serendipity Beach was a backpacker-ridden dump and that quiet Otres Beach would be much more my style. A brief stop in the area around Serendipity when I arrived confirmed my expectations — shirtless, glassy-eyed backpackers wandering around with whisky buckets at 10am, tuk tuk drivers instantly swarming around us, touts trying to convince us to get a massage, kid vendors trying to sell us bracelets. It’s one of the very worst examples of how tourists are slowly wrecking parts of Southeast Asia.
I mean, sure, if you’re looking to party then this area of Sihanoukville would be perfect, but that was the complete opposite of what I needed. This time I was craving somewhere relaxing and couple-y with no hassle, somewhere I could get some work done. I didn’t want to sit and watch my fellow countrymen vomit their breakfast in the streets on a daily basis.
I arrived on Otres Beach and was delighted and thankful to find somewhere in total contrast to Serendipity. The stretch of guesthouses lining the beach totalled around 30 or 40, taking up a small section of the beach. It felt much more peaceful, there were hardly any vendors and those that were there would mostly leave you alone and not hassle you. And the kid vendors that Sihanoukville is so famous for? After chatting for a while with one of them, they gave me a bracelet for free! For “friendship”! My mind was blown.
A lot of the laid-back vibe comes from the fact that the guesthouse owners on Otres Beach seem to have an agreement with each other to turn off the music at around 10pm, which makes for a quiet and relaxing night every night.
I was staying at Papa Pippo Bungalows and for a bungalow on the beach with an ensuite bathroom and excellent wifi Dave and I were paying just $15 total.
Here’s a sample of a typical day on Otres Beach:
Every morning would begin with this view.
When we finally managed to drag ourselves out of bed, we’d step out of our bungalow onto warm, golden sand, race each other into the sea and spend the next hour swimming (Dave) and loudly freaking out whenever seaweed attacked (Me).
After drying off in the sun, we’d head off for a stroll along the beach to find somewhere to have breakfast — and would usually end up eating at Mushroom Point with their awesomely comfortable sun loungers and bungalows shaped like mushrooms!
As an aside, on Otres Beach I actually developed an obsession with Vegemite (of all things!) and would actively seek it out for breakfast every single morning. It’s now reached the point where I carry an enormous jar of it around with me!
Breakfast at Mushroom Point
Of course, I wasn’t just staying on Otres so I could sunbathe, nap and eat vegemite — I was here to get lots of writing done. Papa Pippo had surprisingly good internet for a beach bungalow in Cambodia and so much of my morning and early afternoon was spent working on one of the cushions here.
Not a bad place to work, right?
After a hard, long and terrible day of working, it was then time to shut down our laptops and go enjoy the beach. Apart from the one time that I swam in the sea during a thunderstorm and found myself surrounded by bright blue jellyfish that looked like salt and pepper grinders, this was one of the highlights.
The sea was so ridiculously warm that it was like having a bath! The water was deep enough that you could swim and was so incredibly calm that I didn’t get seasick. With sun loungers and hammocks on the beach, there would be plenty of reading and napping taking place too.
And every night on Otres Beach would finish as chilled out as it started — with dinner and cocktails on the beach followed by an incredible sunset.
Otres Beach had some of the best sunsets I’ve ever witnessed in Southeast Asia.
Otres Beach is one of those places where I feel like I can say “go now, before it changes! It won’t be like this forever!” without feeling like a dick. Otres Beach is under threat from commercial development, with many bungalows and restaurants bulldozed a few years ago in preparation for a resort. Though it has yet to materialise, the 1.5km stretch of empty beach with bulldozers and workmen lazing around means it’s only a matter of time…
We left Otres Beach after two weeks. I knew that if we didn’t leave then, we’d never leave. And though I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in Koh Rong, Kampot and Kep, after a week of exploring I was craving to return to Otres.
And so we did just that.
By the end of our time in Cambodia, Otres Beach felt like home, and if we didn’t have plans to head to Thailand for Yi Peng then I have a feeling Dave and I would have spent another two weeks there… Or, you know, two years.
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I completely agree. Otres beach is where it’s at if you’re visiting Sihanoukville. It’s cleaner, quieter, and you can actually swim in the ocean without having to compete with the boats coming and going.
Definitely true, Arienne! I don’t know how anybody could find the crowded beach in Serendipity enjoyable!
Did you have the pizza at Papa Pippo? It is so good. I stopped eating pizza after that because no pizza in Asia will ever be that good.
I did! I had a pizza with Dave and he got one with anchovies on, which has to be the FOULEST thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. I stopped eating pizza after that, though for slightly different reasons ;)
Ohhhhh my God. GET ME THERE NOW!!!
I need to stop reading all your Asia posts… I’m constantly adding places to my must-visit list!
Hahahaha! You’d love Otres Beach :) and I’m so excited you’ll be finally getting to SE Asia soon!
awesome view and i love this beach. I love the sunset photos on this post. I wonder why I hadn’t been here when I was in Cambodia.
Maybe you can visit next time :)
I love Otres beach as well. So much calmer than Serendipidy. Have you been to Sokha beach? That is my favourite beach. It is private (part of Sokha beach resort) and so the sand is clean, white and you don’t get any drunk backpackers or sales ladies pestering you.
I didn’t get a chance to visit Sokha beach this time around, unfortunately — it sounds wonderful though! No hassling is always good :)
Seaweed attacks and vibrant sunsets like that? Sign me up.
Those are the first qualities I look for in a beach destination. :D
Seaweed attacks?! I can’t handle seaweed in my ocean, haha.
This is absolutely beautiful – I would hang that last picture on my wall! xx
Awww, thanks, my love! :)
KILLER last photo there. I know a lot of these get taken but if you get a chance, it would look amazing blown up and printed on some canvas.
Thanks Shaun! Maybe one day I’ll get it printed out for my parents. It’s one of my favourite photos too :-)
that sunset is RIDICULOUS. havent been there yet but seems like i need to go asap.
Pretty much everyone staying on the beach ran out of their bungalows to take a photo of the sunset. It was ridiculous.
I would like to be napping there. Right now.
It was an amazing place to nap!
I didn’t go to the beaches at all while I was in Cambodia, but this looks gorgeous. I hope it’s still as peaceful and relaxed as you found it whenever I get the chance to go back to Cambodia. I especially like your cushion-y area by the water where you sat and wrote!
Ah, that’s a shame — the beaches were one of the highlights for me! I hope you get to go back soon! :-)
Wauw, totally loving the beach!
It was a pretty amazing one!
Missed that one when was in Cambodia :( It indeed looks like Paradise! I am so ready for this beach!
The colors in the last photo are amazing!
Thank you! Yeah, it was probably my favourite place in Cambodia :-)
I’m saving this for a future trip to Cambodia:-)
I’m wondering: how comfortable were the bungalows?
The bungalows were… basic. They all were on Otres — there isn’t anything fancy. It was pretty much a bed, a mosquito net and a shower. They ranged from $10-20 a night and, well, you get what you pay for! :-)
I loved this part of your story “…couple-y with no hassle, somewhere I could get some work done.” coupl-y shouldn’t go with work LOL
Anyway, we are so excited from your story that we want to go to asia again but for now we love the experience in the Galapagos for the next 30-60 days :)
Ha, I know… but we never have any time to *NOT* do work!
Enjoy the Galapagos. I’m sure it’s wonderful! :-)
Agh, this looks lovely – and I’m loving your second sunset picture! Also, those jellyfish sound a little, you know, extremely terrifying. Shudder.
Oh, I’ll have to tell you the jellyfish story in more detail! It was absolutely terrifying and I was too scared to venture into the sea again!
I love Otres! I was there in early October. I also did a month in Cambodia, but sadly, only 8 days in Otres. Eight glorious, amazing, blue-bioluminescence-swimming-filled days. Completely agree about Serendipity beach.
Yes! Glad to hear you also loved Otres. It’s such a wonderful place!
Gorgeous and inspiring pics! I wish I was there right NOW!!
Thanks, Dana! I wish I was too :)
Looks gorgeous – you make it sound like Alex Garland’s Beach!
Hopefully it won’t share the same fate as that beach!
beautiful pictures.. wow what a sunset.. you need to look after your self while in Cambodia..
The Otres Beach is so beautiful, definitely wouldn’t mind relaxing there the entire day.
Or month, right?
WOW! Otres Beach is definitely on my ‘must visit’ list now! Thank you for sharing such an amazing place.
It looks and sounds like a dream place to visit. I hope it doesn’t become over developed like you fear.
As for Serendipity, what a fabulous name for a place!
A fabulous name, a crappy place!
Hey, I nominated you for a Liebster award. Take a look
I went to Siem Reap for ten days in May and fell in love with it too. I hope to be in Cambodia and explore the rest of the country soon! :)
Great imagery :)
Holy crap! That last sunset hurts my eyes it’s so beautiful!
Hahaha! It was pretty blinding watching it too!
What an awesome place and delicious sunset, Lauren!
Thanks so much, Charu!
Hmmm, vegemite. Haven’t gotten the courage to try that, yet, though it’s available in the imports market here. But, I’d eat it if it meant I could wake up to those views and work on Otres Beach. Just beautiful! It would be such a shame if that beauty was lost due to ‘progress’ and the planned development :-(
Hahaha, you should definitely try it Gayla. It’s not as bad as it smells…
I showed these photos to my friend that I’m traveling SE Asia with this spring and she immediately sad, “WE MUST GO THERE!” So Otres has been added to the list :)
Hahaha, so awesome. Hope you guys love it as much as I do :-)
I’ve been following your blog for about a year and have thought to myself many times after reading one of your posts, I want to go there!, and this is the first time I can actually see myself being there. Otres Beach looks like the perfect beach town to spend a week or two, or three.
Awww, thanks for the lovely comment, Erica! It’s definitely the perfect beach town to stay for a few weeks (or months!).
that sunset looks epic – I can’t wait to get back to Cambodia later this year :)
You’re going to go back to Cambodia?! You seemed so fed up with it last time we met!
Great post! Heading out that way in April myself hoping to find my own little slice of paradise … may follow you lead.
Thanks for the tip :)
Hey Neil! You should definitely head out to Otres — it’s definitely my idea of paradise!
They are all great, Otres and Sokha, Victory! Most of the tourist are lazy to go far from Ocheuteal, so it’s peaceful almost all over the non-tourist S-ville.
That place looks awesome! Great pictures of the sunsets! I was wondering where else to go in Cambodia on my upcoming trip (aside from Siem Reap of course) and it looks like you might have helped….man that place looks nice and a great deal too!
I can’t say I’m with you on the vegemite though…..
i’m here now, at seagarden which is next to papa pippo. this place is soooo much better than serendipity. apparently theres a pipe that leads out to the water and pours all the sewage straight into the water at serendipity. the water at otres is so much better. i’ll hate the day this place becomes commercialized, but we all know its inevitable because money is involved.
So glad you enjoyed Otres Beach it is one of favourites also so much so we are moving there, Well to the Estuary 300 meters from the beach. We discovered Otres about 5 years ago and fell head over heals in love.
March 12th 2014 cannnot wait to move,,,,,,
I’m jealous! :-)
Your trip sounded incredible! I may be visiting Cambodia very soon! Where would you recommend and what beaches were your favourites? Any tips would be very helpful! Thank you!
Otres Beach! And the beaches on Koh Rong were stunning (although pack lots of insect repellent as the sand flies are vicious!)
I found your blog with this post, you got a new subscriber! :)
Yay! Thank you :-)
We are here right now, staying next door to Papa Pippo and have absolutely no plans to leave anytime soon…..it’s paradise!!! Completely agree with your sentiment — everyone should go go go now before Otres is another Koh Samui (I also love Samui, but you know what I mean!).
Yay! So happy to hear you like Otres just as much as I do.
Had a brief stay at otres and this is my biggest regret about Cambodia. I should have stayed from start to finish. I only had a week in the country and cannot think of a better way, or place to stay and spend and while away your days.
It would be absolutely criminal if the developers bulldoze the bungalows and tree houses to make way for big fancy hotels and the like. Yet again money talks! I seriously recommend checking out this stunning little stretch of the earth whilst it remains unspoilt by the stench of the developers cash.
Thanks for sharing Mat, and I completely agree with you.
I’m thinking about moving to cambodia. I want to take a couple week vacation there to see if it will work for me.
would it be possible to get advice from you seasoned travelers?
Sure! Feel free to drop me an email through my contact form, or reply to this comment. I’ll see what I can do :-)
otres beach ist ja nicht schlecht, aber von den top 1000 stränden der welt ist er meilenweit entfernt, meiner meinung nach. das wird sicher nie ein 2. samui, wo sind denn da die palmen, oder die berge, die viewpoints, die wasserfälle? da gibt es ganz andere strände in thailand- zb ko kut , auch noch ganz relativ einsam, ( google mal die fotos). das ist ein ganz anderes kaliber, mit millionen palmen, nicht nur so eine mickrige baumreihe. aber eure reiseberichte gefallen mir trotzdem sehr gut, geschmäcker sind eben verschieden.
otres beach is not so bad, but there are many better beaches in thailand, and elsewhere, in my opinion. for example ko kut, you should google the fotos of both, then you see the difference, millions of palm trees, and it is still very undeveloped, not just a single row of mediocre trees .
Absolutely! I wasn’t saying that it was the best beach in all of Southeast Asia — just that it was my favourite beach in Cambodia. Which has more factors than simply the prettiness of it :-).
Been in Otres for 10 minutes and love this place already!
Glad you’re loving it, Nigel!
P.S. Just had a great pizza at Papa Pippo!
Just returned from a One months trip to Cambodja and visites Otres Beach. It’s a paradise. Sunset at the blame Canada bar is the best late afternoon thing to do. The pace of life, the friendliness of the people, it is just Amazing…. Life as it was ment to be…..
Glad you enjoyed Otres as much as I did! :-)
Um…I was on the beach for that same exact sunset! I am sitting here at my desk looking at a print of it, comparing it to yours! Exact same! We were there for 2 weeks also, we MUST have bumped into each other! We were staying at Sunshine cafe :)
Then we headed to Thailand for Yi Peng too! We went to Chiang Mai–you?
That’s amazing! I went to Chiang Mai as well! :-D
Papa Pippo is the best! Perfect location to just chill and relax! Loved reading this and it certainly takes me back!
Hi, I went to Maafushi, Maldives simply based on your post, and totally loved it. I’m heading to Cambodia in August, how would you compare Otres Beach to Maafushi?
They’re not really similar in any way at all! Otres Beach is cheaper, I guess. The beach isn’t as nice. There’s hundreds of backpackers. More food options. Lots of alcohol and touts.
Thanks Lauren for bringing home just what a beautiful place Otres is – it’s a world away from Serendipity down town this too must have been wonderful 20 years ago but you can hardly see the beach for bar chairs and loungers and dare I say it’s all a bit tacky unless you just need to say visit the clinic or grab something from the supermarket.
Otres on the other hand is genuinely special at this time – there’s so many people doing nice things and running good places – it’s clean non hassally and has it’s very own chilled hippie vibe – I have been staying for 12 days now and no desire to leave – in fact I am starting to wonder how much time I can spend here as I would hate to come back in five years and found a little Serendipity sneak in. Go explore now and spend time soaking up the truely beautiful Otres vibe –
So glad to hear you agree, Emma! :-) I really need to get back there soon…
Hi I was googling for reviews on otres beach and got to read your amazing post. I just have a question. Is this place and beach bungalow kids friendly. If I have my toddler traveling with me will I find a store to buy packed food or can I cook for him myself. Will facilities be provided?
Yep, there were families on the beach, so you definitely won’t be the only one with a toddler! :-) Some accommodation options may have a kitchen included, but I haven’t stayed at them. You’d have to head into Sihanoukville’s main town to stock up on groceries (about a ten minute tuk-tuk ride away. There are tons of restaurants on the beach, though.
Hi Lauren, I stayed at Otres village for 3 nights at the end of October 2016, but alas I didn’t manage to get any fantastic sunsets photos, it was overcast at dusk for 3 days :-(
I liked the laid back hippie traveller vibe in the village and at the beach bars. I think going in the dry season would be better as I went just at the end of the wet season and it did get quite muddy. Graham.
Ah, sweet! So glad to hear you liked it :-)
Besides Otres, do take a look at Hun Sen Beach on the other side of Sihanoukville. You will have to go through the port area and go along the road passing the fishing village on the way to Sokimex depot.
Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll be heading to Cambodia soon :-)
Otres Beach is now the top hang out spot for local thieves. If you let your guard down and leave your valuables unattended while swimming or motorbike unchained while watching the sunset, don’t be surprised to have something stolen. Definitely a paradise for the local thieves because of so many easy targets/foreigners to prey upon!
Why would you leave your valuables unattended while swimming? You’ll get your stuff stolen in many countries around the world if you do that.
Why would you leave their motorbike unchained while watching the sunset? You’ll get your motorbike stolen in many parts around Cambodia if you do that.
Why would you leave your hotel/hostel room without zipper pockets? You’ll get your phone/money stolen in many parts around Cambodia if you do that.
What? That’s what I said.
Lol I don’t think I have ever heard of someone who isn’t Australian that loves vegemite! I’m a huge addict myself (but I have been brought up on it).
Thanks for helping me get clarity where to stay on our upcoming trip!
Hahahaha! I can’t get enough of it :-) And no worries! Hope you enjoy Otres if you decide to go there.
I was there in June 2015. Spent few days at sihanoukville. Spent an entire day at otres beach. Me and my friend were playing pool at one of the shacks, listening to kygo & sipping on chilled tap beer.
I took lots of photos at sunset and it is still one of the best sunsets in Asia ( including India , Vietnam , Thailand , Philippines ) for me.
I have same photo on wall! I had almost planned a solo vacation to Indonesia in first week of June before covid but now I have to wait till jan / feb or whenever leisure travel is allowed.
Till then reading blogs, watching YouTube vlogs of my already visited places gives me bitter sweet feeling.
I also wandered into Otres after being disgusted by Sihanouk. Like you I ended up staying for I dunno… a month? Sorta lost track. That was Dec 2017.
I’m about to go back to Cambodia and was reading up on it. Sounds like that resort is being built and the place is a wrecked construction zone now. So sad.