Sihanoukville, also known as Kampong Som, is a Cambodia’s most bustling beach town and port city. Sitting on the Gulf of Thailand, it may not be home to the region’s most photogenic beaches – but the beaches that it does have are vast, white and nearly uninterrupted. This makes Sihanoukville an easy getaway from the crowds of beach holiday-makers. The combination of its beaches, bohemian vibe, and rapidly expanding infrastructure make it the perfect place to relax and unwind. Its proximity to the southern islands also make it a convenient launching point for more exotic destinations in southern Cambodia.
The most popular beach in Sihanoukville is Occheuteal Beach. This four-kilometre stretch of sand and rock is a major stop-off point for those visiting the area. At the north-western end is Serendipity Beach, where a slew of restaurants, bars and boutique resorts sit mere meters away from the gently lapping waves of the Gulf. While you’re there, be sure to drop by the M’Lop Tapang Shop to support an outstanding initiative to protect local children by purchasing beautiful and unique handmade handicrafts.
To escape the crowds of Occheuteal Beach, head to the southern end where it’s less crowded. Just south beyond Phnom Som Nak Sdach (Hill of the King’s Palace) is Otres Beach. Despite being only a short distance away, Otres Beach feels like a world apart from Occheuteal Beach. The water is much cleaner, and it’s not difficult to find your own patch of sand.
For spectacular panoramic views of the city and surrounding area, head to Wat Leu. Situated on a peaceful forested hilltop a kilometre and a half from the city-centre, it’s the perfect place to catch sunset.
Sihanoukville is also a great launching point to Cambodia’s gorgeous Southern Islands. The star of this bunch is undoubtedly Koh Rong. The pearl-white sands, laid back atmosphere, and crystal-clear waters here make it a favourite for beach-goers. Beyond Koh Rong, there’s also Koh Rong Samloem, Koh Ta Kiev, Koh Thmei, and Koh Totang.
How to get there:
By Plane: Located about 17 kilometres east of the town is Sihanoukville Airport, which can be accessed via flights through Cambodia Angkor Air three times a week from Siem Reap.
By Bus: Most buses to Sihanoukville come from either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. The bus station is fairly far from the city-centre, so you’ll need to take a tuk tuk or motorbike the rest of the way.