Sihanoukville Bars UpdateFebruary 21, 2008
Independence Beach: The best beach bars were razed last year as a sacrifice to the Gods of the renovated Independence Hotel. (Bought by Koreans and after giving the residents five grand per business it was hastily dismantled and then walled in by a long green iron fence. I used to enjoy my Ban Cheeow in one of the family run restaurants. Oh well.) The Seabreeze run by Aussie’s Steve and John at the other end, is well worth a visit especially on roast nights. The ride back to town at night along that road is not recommended on a bike as it’s pitch black, has crap camber and also occasionally has locals on bikes waiting to tip you over for your wallet.
Downtown: Good hang-outs except when town fills up with Pattaya border runners speaking Thai to Vietnamese taxi girls loud enough so that everyone can hear them over the stereo. G’day Mate is the place to sit beside colourful and troubled folks, (well men actually), especially in the wee small hours. The best way to understand Mick’s speech after about 11pm is to get pissed as swiftly as possible. The Brittania Bar down near the small market exists to remind me how lucky I am not to be English. (Only kidding, Mark the owner is a great bloke and VERY passionate about his Englishness.) It’s kind of ‘smoky’ in there by the way. Freedom Hotel near the bus stop is there for the .75c beer, budget menu and marauding freelancers. Also you have the chance to witness the German owner squirting pepper spray on some unfortunate, as he is prone to do on occasion. The Fisherman’s Den still has great fish and chips.
Victory Hill: Le Horreur! Victory Hill is now about 50% French hostess bars, (and one English one), and 50% everything else now. Bonobo would be my pick of the former although their barfine is currently a ludicrous 4 lady drinks or $12. Papagayo across from the Corner has picked up and acquired five new girls. The Rainy Season Bar hosts live music, although you might get unlucky and cringe as a Radiohead enthusiast with acoustic guitar inflicts his pain onto others. Of the rest, The Corner Bar is usually interesting and for a cheap and interesting curry, and The Curry Pot is a good choice – the owner Ali is always entertaining, and it’s actually quite hard to spend more than $5 there on a couple of dishes. One last contender is the J Bar in Mealy Chenda around the corner. The German barman is a riot, and it seems mildly popular with expats from that part of the world. A few of them get together for an hour or two in the evenings to play dice and drink $1 beers. A huge TV that takes up most of a wall, and if you like AC/DC and Rammstein then you won’t be disappointed. There’s good food downstairs which you can easily have sent up plus there’s a great seaview.
Victory Beach: A clear winner here for me is Browns on the beach about midway between the Holiday Palace Casino and the Russians with their Antinov buried in a shack. Browns closes at dusk but has a great ambience and some really good food.
Ochheuteal Beach: Angelo’s Restaurant. A block back from Occhetueal, this place has western-quality western food and is run by friendly Angelo (I’m not sure about the Dutch part), who keeps a hawk-eye over everything to make sure the quality is always up to scratch. Watching him shoo away the stray dogs who dare venture into the restaurant area is also a riot. I know it’s a restaurant and not a bar, but I like the Greek BBQ food a great deal and usually eat at the bar. I tend to meet interesting people there, and always drink more than I intended. Draught and basic cans are $1.50. Dutch/Greek run.
Serendipity Beach: In my opinion Serendipity is suffering from it’s impermanence in that the ‘shortish blue pipe out to sea’ method of sewerage disposal there is steadily poisoning the place. Anyway I go there occasionally if friends from afar are in town, usually to watch a sunset. Narein’s Bar is probably my pick. $1 beers. Alas, the beggar/tout count is high like most tourist beaches here. Back a street is the recently opened Outback Bar which is fullyairconditioned and well appointed, I tend to crawl in there at least once a week. The Dolphin Bar functions as a meeting place and is where local freelance girls congregate after working in The Snake Pit, Freedom, Blue Storm and various other bars. Blue Mountain girls will sometimes go there too. I believe their reason for going is not just to snag some punters. It’s the music and the fact that they are, most of them, on ice. I know yamma and ice have been around for some time now but this scene now feels a lot more urgent and desperate.
Portside and Elsewhere: If you should venture up to Biba, then watch out for the ghostly sleeping cows which will loom up from the potholed darkness, illuminated by the thin beam from your undercharged 125 Dream. I think they are used for traffic calming measures. The Peak Hotel and Casino has re-opened recently. The free food is pretty good. And the beers are free too, as long as you play those tables. I prefer the cosier and slightly inept Fortuna, by the roundabout.
Otres Beach, which was previously deserted and always a good option if you wanted a quiet undisturbed swim, has bars going most of the way down. The Cantina has a good feeling to it and serves pretty good fish taco’s.
Thanks to Lemons, Steven Lewis and El Ray for the above info.