Sihanoukville is Growing Fast Everywhere You Look

big development at otres beach sihanoukville

They cut down a tree in front of my office last week. I loved the tree and had been watching it grow for over 10 years. I was surprised by what I saw after they cut it down. I saw two high rises in the distance and three cranes. They look much closer than they look in this photo. It just reminded me that Sihanoukville is growing fast.

sihanoukville growing fast

I know where these developments are. I often pass them when I ride my motorbike along the beach road. I just didn’t realise how close they were to my home.

Sihanoukville is Growing Fast

It wasn’t raining today, so I went for a motorbike ride out to Otres village. Sorry, I forgot to take photos, but it has changed a lot in the six months since I was last there. For one thing, the dirt road has been paved with cement. For another thing, bungalows are springing up everywhere. It used to be quiet out there, but with all the new developments, it’s beginning to look like another city. I even saw one hotel being built in the village.

That didn’t surprise me as much as the giant development I saw going up on the second road back from the beach. I’d heard a rumour that Jack Ma, the owner of Alibaba, had bought a huge chunk of Otres in that general area. I don’t know if the development is his, but whoever owns it, whatever is going there is going to be massive. I took one photo, but it’s just one small area of the total development. I almost played chicken with a huge bulldozer, but decided to pull over and let it pass. Too bad. I wanted to take a picture of it. This is the one photo I took.

big development at otres beach sihanoukville

Like I said, that’s just a tiny corner of the development.

On the way out to Otres, I passed through Ochheuteal beach. Hotels are going up there, too. Some are smallish by today’s standards, but they would have been big developments not too many years ago. I remember when I never saw cranes or heavy equipment here. Now I see them everywhere.

Rumour has it the Chinese are responsible for much of the development here. It’s quite possible because more Chinese tourists are coming to Sihanoukville. They don’t travel in packs, either. I’ve seen everything from Chinese backpackers to families and larger groups here. I see them everywhere, even on the Hill. For the most part, they are quiet and polite, but like every large group, there are some bad ones.

Sorry about the lack of photos. I wasn’t thinking of writing a blog, but it’s been awhile since my last update, so I thought I’d write a quick one. Next time I’ll make sure to take more photographs. For now you’re just going to have to trust me: Sihanoukville is growing fast.

Lunch in Otres Village

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I wrote about Otres Village back in 2013. I’ve been back there since then, but haven’t taken pictures. I had some time on my hands the other day, so I decided to have lunch in Otres village. I went to Hacienda, which is right across the street from the Barn, where they have the Otres Market. The Otres Market put this out of the way village on the map.

Legacy Resort Otres village

In 2013, not much had changed on the main road in Otres Village. There was a row of traditional shops on the road, but that was about it. Now it extends around the corner and you can find fairly luxurious guesthouses and bungalows on the main road. The Legacy is probably the nicest, but there are others springing up, including a fair sized hotel.

Main road in Otres village

You take a right turn onto a dirt road to get to the Barn and all the other new restaurants and guesthouses that have been springing up in Otres village. I was a little stunned by how many there are now. There’s even a mini-mart, but it doesn’t look like they’ve stocked it yet. There’s also a small row of shops. Only two were occupied when I drove past, but it’s a sign of the times. Sihanoukville is growing and Otres village is growing with it.

new shops in Otres village

I finally arrived at Hacienda. I knew what I wanted. The last time I went there for lunch, it was to meet Brian Gruber, author of the very excellent book, War: the Afterparty. I tried their falafel last time and it was very good. That’s what I had this time, too, and it was just as good.

Hacienda at Otres village

Hacienda turned out to be a perfect choice for lunch. I could have gone to the beach, but there’s nothing new or different about the beach to me. I wanted a change of scenery. At Hacienda, you’re surrounded by trees and water. I think if I came to Sihanoukville for the first time and knew it was there, I’d stay in one of their bungalows. They’re a deal at $8 a night and the bar/restaurant serves good food at decent prices.

bungalows in Otres village

In spite of its rapid growth, Otres village is still pretty mellow. It might remain that way because that’s why people seem to be drawn to it. Hacienda was playing jazz when I was there. It seemed perfect and was a welcome relief from the nostalgia-rock you hear everywhere in Sihanoukville.

The people at the bar were talking quietly together and most of them were drinking smoothies. That, too, was a relief. Just last week while I was having dinner on the Hill, the woman who runs the bar across the road from the restaurant I was dining in kicked a patron out. She actually knocked him to the ground as she shouted, “Don’t say ‘fuck you’ to me or my family! Get out and don’t come back!”

I love the food at Irina Franca and Raphael’s on the Hill, but sometimes the atmosphere isn’t so great. I like to eat outdoors, but sometimes I eat indoors to escape the blaring music and loud voices. That wasn’t a problem in Otres village. I was the oldest customer by far, but the young bartender was very friendly and courteous. If you’re looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, you may find it in Otres village. I’ve never been there at night, but I suspect it’s nice after dark, too.