Otres Beach on the west coast of Cambodia is a pearl. It has a peaceful flow and a friendly vibe with English speaking bartenders who know the difference between a Coke, the soda, and the other whiter kind.
I asked to be taken to this beach when I first got off the bus from Kampong Speu but either the motorcycle driver misunderstood me or he just really wanted to take me to his buddy’s guesthouse on Serendipity beach. I wasn’t sure because I was going blindly with just a name. I booked three nights and the next day realized the error. Turns out Otres is a 45 minute beach walk away and a world away from the dirtier and more frantic pace of the beaches closer to Sihanoukville, Cambodia. A tuk tuk driver will take you to Otres for $3-4 because they have to drive the long way around or you can walk south on the beach until you reach a hill with a guesthouse perched at the top. Once you crest the hill you will see the shacks in the distance.
You’ll feel like you just walked into an Australian/British/German/American commune, complete with pot brownies and cookies on display in the beachfront restaurants. There are still a few sleazy looking pasty-white dudes walking around with underage Cambodian girls but markedly less. There are also fewer Cambodian women and girls with baskets looking to rub your feet or tie you a bracelet. It’s refreshing coming from just up the beach where everyone is trying to rub you.
You have the option of sleeping on a bunch of other people for $5 for 3 nights or spend some serious cash and pay $20 for a beachfront bamboo hut complete with glass doors. Although you could probably barter your way down to $16 or $17 (USD) if you want to save enough to buy your daily big bottles of water. I paid $7 a night for a shack that smells of pee. Dehydrated pee (which is the best kind). Lots of options so shop around.
The time is coming when Otres, like other gems before it in Southeast Asia will be filled with tourists, which brings locals, Tuk Tuks and bracelets. This place is good respite. It’s hot and a great place to feel free and lay where you want with a book covering your face. All for around $10 a day.