Ideal duration: 3-5 Days
Best Time: October - January Read More
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Sihanoukville is a coastal city in southwest Cambodia, about five hours by road from Phnom Penh. Serviced by Sihanoukville International Airport, it is the most popular seaside destination in the country. The city is known for its vast coastline, home to untouched and magnificent beaches, restaurants and cafes serving delicious seafood cuisines and arguably the country's best nightlife. Tourists also visit Sihanoukville to enjoy watersports, games, and boat trips to the surrounding islands.
Once a vital trading port for Cambodia, Sihanoukville has grown into a backpacker haven offering some of the best seaside experiences at affordable prices. Visitors can find plenty of cheap guesthouses and hostels to stay the night over and bars that stay open well into the night. However, as one goes further south of the city, the beaches become more relaxed and give away to more posh resorts and other accommodation options.
Sihanoukville is a staging point for trips to nearby islands, which are largely untouched, with some offering great accommodation. For those who wish to cast away from the shoreline and enjoy a tropical vacation in peace, this is something which cannot be recommended enough. Scuba diving is also quite popular with PADI-certified schools and tour operators offering liveaboard trips on the regular.
The city offers a pretty good nightlife in Ochheuteal, Serendipity and Victory Beaches with all beach sidebars as well as those in downtown that serve fresh brews and have musical and dance floors open until the early hours of the morning. However, if you want to have a simple holiday in a quieter place, Otres beach is a place which has cheap and minimalistic guest houses overlooking the sea.
Sihanoukville was set up as a port town in 1964 after Cambodia's independence, and the city got its name from the country's King Norodom Sihanouk. Relatively a new town, it developed into a beach destination with grand resorts, bars and rich coastline until the Khmer Rouge put an end to the golden era.
The city was almost shut down after thousands of civilians were killed and the buildings destroyed. One of the famous hotels was Independence hotel, which became abandoned. In 1993, peace returned to Sihanoukville, and from the late 1990s, the town turned into a backpacker's paradise, with plenty of cheap guesthouses, bars, cafes and restaurants lining up the clean white sand beaches.
From being Cambodia's famous beach town, it has now turned into a concrete jungle with construction sites. The city is home to more expats than the locals now, a majority of them Chinese, who have set up hundreds of huge casinos across all the beaches. This sizeable Chinese investment is sadly negatively changing the city, impacting the lives of the locals. The Chinese population has increased here dramatically with its continued settlement.