‘Beach town’, ‘port community’, ‘fledgling resort destination’ – all describe Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s premier beach town. Sihanoukville’s white sand beaches and warm Gulf of Thailand waters combine with a laid back, beachy atmosphere to provide a great little tropical getaway. Sihanoukville is a place to unwind by the beach, enjoy the fresh from-the-ocean seafood, take in a snorkeling or diving trip, and generally slow down, lay back and chill-out.
Sihanoukville has a different look and feel than most Cambodian towns. Constructed as a port city in the late 1950s, the town is much newer, more urban and cosmopolitan than most Cambodian provincial cities. Nowadays, Sihanoukville is as much a beach town, catering to beach-going weekenders from Phnom Penh as well as a steadily increasing number of foreign visitors. Still, the pace of life in Sihanoukville is very relaxed. Cows occasionally wander the main road and outside town, foreign faces draw smiles and curious stares. Most of the beaches offer only beach umbrellas and thatched roofed eateries although there is a growing number of restaurants, bungalows and hotels.
Sihanoukville has a more than ample supply of accommodation, including a 5-star resort complex on Sokha Beach, several mid-range places, a few ‘upscale’ three-star hotels and dozens of budget guesthouses. Considering the moderate number of visitors to Sihanoukville, the town offers a surprising number and variety of restaurants and bars. Fresh seafood, especially crab, prawns and ocean fish, has always been one of the town’s biggest draws, but there is also a wide variety of places offering foreign cuisines – Australian, French, Indian, German, British, Italian, pizza places, a couple of western bakeries and espresso coffee shops. And these days Sihanoukville offers a pretty good night life as well with a wide variety of bars staying open well into the wee hours, especially on Weather Station Hill and the beach bars on Ochheuteal, ‘Serendipity’ and Victory Beaches.