Situated on the eastern part of the Gulf of Thailand, Sihanoukville is a peninsula and has several beaches and small, offshore islands. It was founded in 1964 and is much more urban and modern than other Cambodian cities.
With its beaches and casinos, Sihanoukville is primarily a tourist attraction, albeit one with an industrial deep water port. Because of the tourist industry the town of some 250,000 people has a more lighthearted flavour to it than Phnom Penh.
'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 he fresh from-the-ocean seafood, take in a snorkeling or scuba 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 as it is a port 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, outside town foreign faces draw smiles and curious stares, and most of the beaches offer only beach umbrellas, thatched roofed eateries, and a growing number of restaurants, bungalows and hotels.
Sihanoukville has a more than ample supply of accommodations, including a 5-star resort complex on Sokha Beach, several mid-range places downtown and at the beaches, a few 'upscale' three-star hotels, and dozens of budget guesthouses, especially on Weather Station Hill (Victory Hill). 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, Sri Lankan, British, Italian, pizza places, a couple of western bakeries and even a espresso coffee shop. 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, in the downtown area, and the beach bars on Ochheuteal, ‘Serendipity’ and Victory Beaches.
Sihanoukville is not a small place, and the best way to get around is to hire a motorbike. Sihanoukville itself is east of the main backpackers' beach and close to the more mid-range Ochatial Beach. Due south of town is tiny Ko Pos Beach, which ha a solitary mid-range hotel, and the larger Independence Beach, which has the crumbling Independence Hotel - slated for redevelopment.
Cambodian's only deep-sea port is located here and considerable intern ational aid has been spent to improve the infrastructure in the province. Although tourism has increased over the past few years, the beaches of Sihanoukville are some of the most unspoiled in all of Southeast Asia. It is a prefect tropical getaway, filled with lovely beaches and facilities for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving or just sunbathing. Boat trips are also available to many of the nearby islands. There are several hotels and local restaurants serving fresh, delicious seafood on the beach. On the weekend, there are many local visitors from Phnom Penh to relax, swimming and enjoy fresh seafood.