Surrounded by white-sand beaches and undeveloped tropical islands, Sihanoukville (Krong Preah Sihanouk), also known as Kompong Som, is Cambodia’s most happening beach destination. Visitor numbers have risen steadily in recent years – and stand to skyrocket now that flights from Siem Reap have been initiated.
For the time being, despite the boomtown rents, the city and its sandy bits remain pretty laid-back. While backpackers continue to flock to the party zone of Serendipity Beach, more subdued Otres Beach, south of town, has made a comeback. That and the emergence of the southern islands as cradles of castaway cool give non-backpackers a reason to visit.
None of Sihanoukville’s beaches would qualify as southeast Asia’s finest, but it’s easy to have stretches of casuarina- and coconut palm–shaded sand to yourself, especially if you venture outside the centre.
Named in honour of the then-king, Sihanoukville was hacked out of the jungle in the late 1950s to create Cambodia’s first and only deep-water port, strategically vital because it meant that the country’s international trade no longer had to pass through Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
Best places to stay in Sihanoukville
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Marvel at the incredible Khmer ruins of Angkor Wat and the clear turquoise waters at Sihanoukville. This journey packages Cambodia’s treasures into 10 well-paced days. Brave Ho Chi Minh City’s jam-packed streets with other travellers your own age—you can be sure they’ll keep pace with you—or check out the more laid back waterways of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.
Prepare for a unique adventure loaded with ancient sights and breathtaking beauty as you travel from the hustle of Bangkok to the bustle of Ho Chi Minh City. Discover the laidback charm and easy smiles of the Cambodian people, call into the ancient temples at Angkor, take on beguiling Phnom Penh and relax on the palm-fringed beaches of Sihanoukville.