In the mid-1950s, Cambodia’s first and only deepwater port was chopped out of the jungle. Surrounded by beaches on three sides, this port city became known as Sihanoukville – and while the city is still young, it already has a colourful history. In the ’60s with unspoilt beauty like Independence Beach on offer, the city began to develop a reputation for tourism. Sadly, this wasn’t to last…
The Vietnam War came to town just as Sihanoukville was beginning to get going. Sihanoukville Port was crucial during the war and the last place the US evacuated. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge, the port was central to the rebuilding of the country. Today, the tourist vibe is steadily returning. To many visitors, Sihanoukville is all about the beaches, like Ochheuteal Beach. But there’s more to the city than that, as the adventurous will discover…
Sihanoukville’s Top 10
10. Ream National Park Located just outside Sihanoukville, this park is full of monkeys – cheeky and otherwise.
5. Otres Beach Known as ‘quiet beach’, there is no electricity. But if you want to really relax, welcome to paradise.
9. Kampong Pier Nup Lok The old fishing port still offers spectacular views.
4. Serendipity Beach Known as the Western Beach due to all the Western bars and restaurants.
8. Scuba diving All the dive boats in Cambodia leave from Sihanoukville, so jump onboard for an underwater adventure.
3. Victory Beach Ever wanted to visit a restaurant-cum-disco inside a Russian plane? Here, you can!
7. Koh Ta Kiev Visit this island just off the coast for some great snorkelling.
2. Sokha Beach With high-end bars and blindingly white sand, this is widely considered the city’s nicest beach. But it will cost you…
6. Cambodian Children’s Painting Project Help the impoverished local children by buying a painting or volunteering – and get that nice fuzzy feeling inside.
1. Ochheuteal Beach With over 100 bars, this is easily Sihanoukville’s most-popular beach.
- Wat Leu – One of the most important Buddhist temples, situated on the top of Sihanoukville Mountain.
- Victory Monument – Situated close to the Victory Beach, this monument was constructed in 1985.
- Wat Krom – This ancient Buddhist temple, known for its stunning and unique architecture, is located on top of Santipheap Street.
- Independence Square – This square houses the Vimean Ekareach shrine, which was constructed in 1985.
- Golden Lion Monument – This magnificent monument was created in 1966.
Sihanoukville Art & Culture
- Water Festival – It is one of the most important festivals celebrated in the Prey Nob district of Sihanoukville in November.
- Pchum Ben – Also known as Ancestors’ Day, it is celebrated on October 15.
- Chaul Chnam Thmey – This festival is known as the Cambodian New Year.
- Independence Beach – This beach gets its name from the isolated Independence Hotel and it includes a beautiful fresh water lake.
- St Michael’s Church – This magnificent church was built on top of a hill in 1960.
- Central Market – This open-air market is the best place for buying fashionable beachwear and swimwear.
- Hanuman’s Boutique – This boutique specializes in attractive jewellery items made from genuine Cambodian stones.
- Night Markets – Located along the Serendipity shoreline, these markets are ideal for buying local souvenir and handicrafts.
- Khmer Artisans – Tourists,searching for traditional handmade Cambodian clothes or small mementoes must visit this unique store.
- M’Lop Tapang – In Sihanoukville, this store is renowned for its extensive collection of traditional Cambodian accessories and handmade bags.
Sihanoukville Gay & Lesbian
- Starfish Bakery – This one-of-a-kind bakery sells yummy snacks and gorgeous accessories.
- Blue Storm Disco – This place invites people from all communities to come and experience Sihanoukville nightlife.
- Weather Station Hill – Also known as Backpacker Hill, this place is crowded with affordable multi-cuisine restaurants.
- Ochheuteal Beach – All along this beach, there are numerous restaurants selling delicious seafoods and local cuisines.
- Golden Lion Plaza Complex – This place has some of the best bars in Sihanoukville.
- Ream National Park – Registered as a national park in 1995, this park in Sihanoukville features wide collections of animal and plants species.
- Serendipity Beach – One of the most beautiful beaches in Sihanoukville, this beach is popular for adventurous activities.
- Ream Beach – A short drive from the Sihanoukville city, this beach is a paradise for birdwatchers.
- Iball Adventure Park – The key attraction of the park are the zorbs, popularly known as iballs.
- Water Source of Kbal Chhay – This water source was built in 1960 and is a popular picnic spot.
- Scuba diving in the pristine blue waters of the sea is extremely popular in Sihanoukville.
- Snorkel in the waters near the Serendipity Beach.
- Hire boats to travel to the nearby islands.
- Jet ski at Ostres Beach.
- Kayak along picturesque coastline of Sihanoukville.
Meak Bochea Day occurs in January or February and sees Cambodian Buddhists visit pagodas to pay homage. In the evening, join in by carrying a candle.
Khmer New Year takes place in April and sees both tourists and locals flood the city. Expect crowds and fireworks.
Celebrated in May, Visak Bochea Day is often referred to as Buddha’s birthday and is a busy and colourful day around the pagodas.
During September, Pchum Ben is one of the most important Khmer holidays when the locals care for the spirits of their ancestors.
The Water Festival takes place in November and marks the beginning of the fishing season. The main action takes place with long boat races in Phnom Penh, but the festival is celebrated throughout the country.
When To Go
Due to Sihanoukville’s tropical climate, the best time to visit is the dry season. While the weather is slightly cooler, you won’t be lacking for sun.
If you visit during the wet season, expect to get wet!
The busy dry season is from November to April, while May to October sees far fewer visitors.
Many hotels offer a free pick-up service from the bus station.
Renting a bicycle is not only fun, but also a great way to get around.
Bike and car taxis are available throughout Sihanoukville, but expect to pay a bit extra as a tourist.
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