What’s happening at Sihanoukville’s Otres Beach?

A little over two years ago, I wrote about the New Road to Otres Beach. A couple of months later, I wrote Sihanoukville Master Plan Revealed! This photo accompanied the article:

This is what the area behind Otres may look like by 2040

2040 is a long way off, but they have to get started sometime, don’t they? Well, they have. See those yellow roads going off into the distance? One of them has been paved. It links up with Route 4 just outside of Sihanoukville near the “Welcome to Sihanoukville” sign on the highway. Nothing is being built on the road yet, but I have it on pretty good authority that a Chinese developer has bought/leased a big chunk of land near this crossroads and plans on building a housing estate on it.

new road otres beach sihanoukville cambodiaI think the fact that they paved the road even though it’s next to useless for through traffic substantiates that rumour. That much construction requires easy access and the road offers access without having to pass through the city.

There is also a direct road from the airport to Otres in the works and someone told me they have already started working on it and plan to bring in the heavy equipment in 2015. That, too, is clearly marked on the Master Plan. It’s the orange road that goes through Otres.

Let’s come back to the present and take a look at Otres Beach as it is. A seemingly odd thing happens as you approach the beach. The paved road takes a left turn down the second road back, but comes to an abrupt end just before the popular beach road. Isn’t that doing things backwards? Not according to the Sihanoukville Master Plan.

crossroads at otres beach sihanoukville cambodia

The bumpy dirt beach road is slated to become a pedestrian road only. The bungalows on the beach are going to have to go (that’s why they’re made of timber) and even some of the bar/restaurants will be demolished and in fact one that was illegally constructed recently was. The bungalows and hotels between the two roads will stay as long as they conform to building regulations, but their main entrances will be on the paved road.

I took a ride down that road and noticed something interesting. One new bungalow complex is in the process of making an entrance on the paved road. Right now it looks like a service entrance only, but notice how the pool is most visible from here instead of the beach side of the road. Are they thinking ahead?

bungalows at otres beach, sihanoukville cambodiaAlso notice how the bungalows are positioned well away from the fence. That’s because zoning laws state they have to be at least six metres from the road — for parking, I think.

2040 is still a quarter of a century in the future. At the rate building was going on a few years ago, there wasn’t much chance Sihanoukville would be as developed as the Master Plan envisions. Even at the rate it has been growing since 2012, it is hard to imagine it looking like this:

otres futureHowever, the rate of construction investment increased 210% in Cambodia in the first five months of 2014 and there’s no sign of it slowing down. According to the Global Post article I got this information from, the total investment was 2.77 billion dollars and came from investors in a variety of countries.

Another sign of the times is that real estate prices are rising in Sihanoukville. In the Phnom Penh Post, Sum Manet reports in At the beach, prices on the rise:

Property prices in Sihanoukville are on the rise with premium main road and beach front properties selling for about 10 per cent more than this time last year, says Po Eavkong, managing director of Asia Real Estate Cambodia. Eavkong said properties along backstreets had gone up 5 to 7 per cent.

He goes on to say that one thing holding development back is that “some land owners were demanding unrealistic prices and keeping developable [sic] property locked up”.

So that’s what’s happening at Sihanoukville’s Otres Beach. I don’t want to be a party-pooper, but personally, I hope Sihanoukville stays as it is a little longer. We’re already looking at land outside the city, where prices are still low, but hesitate to sell because there’s a great school near our house and Sihanoukville has all the amenities we need. We’re looking, though, because we are starting to feel crowded out. The land behind Otres is still rural and we go for motorbike rides out there frequently just to get out of the city, breathe the fresh air and look at the greenery. When that’s gone, so will we.

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About Rob Schneider

Rob Schneider is a writer based in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where he has lived since 2006.

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6 Responses to What’s happening at Sihanoukville’s Otres Beach?

  1. James says:

    Hello;
    What do you thing about the future of the restaurants and bungalows , that there are now on the frontbeach in otres?

    Thank you..

    • I’m not sure, but one person who has a restaurant on Otres 1 tells me he kept building costs low because he expects to be kicked out one day. It’s said to be safer across the road, as long as you adhere to the zoning laws.

  2. The new road is complete leading from highway 4 via Otres village to the beach, can be found on google earth saves a good 40 minutes coming from PP

  3. elena says:

    So – leasing a plot in a rural area 15 k’s outside town and building a two-bedroomed house or buying similar- what’s that going to cost on average in the next year or so?

    Saw a stunning little house on a Sihanoukville real estate website – emailed as to whether it was still for sale – no reply. Eeeeeuch!

    • Not sure. We looked at some land in Steung Hau and they only wanted $3000 for it. Same size would have been $30,000 here in town. Hard title isn’t available everywhere, though. Maybe try calling Sihanoukville Real Estate? A lot of local sites don’t answer email because they rarely get any or don’t know English well enough to reply.

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