, also known as Kampong Som
, or Kampong Saom
, is a port city
in southern Cambodia
on the Gulf of Thailand
. The city was founded in 1964
to be the only deep water port in Cambodia
(in part due to the waning power of the French leading to the Vietnamese tightening their control over the Mekong Delta and hence restricting river access to Cambodia) and its beaches have made it popular as a tourist destination. According to the Royal Government of Cambodia, some 320,000 tourists visited Sihanoukville in 2006, up by 30 percent from 2005. The city is named after King Norodom Sihanouk
The city is served by Sihanoukville International Airport. The planned flights between Sihanoukville and Siem Reap may encourage visitors to Angkor temples in Siem Reap to extend their stay, though the crash of a charter flight on this route in 2007 has caused concerns. Sihanoukville attracts tourists with its laid back beach atmosphere when compared to Thailand's more developed ones, but the region's illegal narcotics shipping discourages some visitors.
Sihanoukville is on a small peninsula with beaches and tropical islands off its south and west coast and the commercial port to the north west. Beaches that line the west contour of the city from north to south are Victory Beach, Lamherkay Beach, Koh Pos Beach, Independence Beach, Sokha Beach, Serendipity Beach, Occheuteal Beach and Otres Beach. The most popular beaches are Occheuteal, Sokha, Independence and Victory. Tourists can take water taxis to the nearby islands for diving, snorkeling, and game fishing.
The town centre is located on a hill roughly in the centre of the peninsula and is seen as a distinct area for tourism promotion. It contains the banks, bus station and market, although the post office is some distance toward the port.
Occheuteal Beach and Serendipity Beach
Occheuteal Beach is a long and narrow strip of beach lined with Casuarina trees, grass umbrellas, rental chairs and little drink huts. Many huts were bulldozed by the government to make way for a supposed new resort. This has raised concerns with human rights organizations. The northern section has become known as Serendipity Beach and is a popular beach with western tourists, noted for small guesthouse rooms right on the beach.
Beyond a small headland at the south end of Occheuteal is the similar Otres Beach.
Sokha Beach is located just west of Serendipity Beach
. This beach is privately owned by Sokha Beach Hotel, the first five-star luxury beach hotel in Cambodia. It provides many facilities with a wide white sandy beach, but hotel guards may prevent visitors who are not guests from going on to the beach.
Independence Beach is located next to Sokha Beach on its west. The beach was named after the old Independence Hotel. This beach offers a good stretch of clean sand. Situated at the northern end of the beach is Independence Hotel and Koh Pos Beach with a tiny island only 800m off the coast. Koh Pos is known for its rock strewn shoreline.
Victory beach is situated at the furthest north of the peninsula of Sihanoukville . It was the original backpacker beach and still popular with budget travelers. At the northern end of the beach is located the deep sea port. Apart from white sand and blue sea, this beach offers a good spot to enjoy the sunset.
At the south end of Victory Beach is another small strand of sand called Lamherkey Beach where the Hawaii Seaview Restaurant is located. It is the place where a French/ Cambodian construction team laid groundwork for the construction of the new Port of Kampong Som during 1950s. At this beach, you can hire a boat to nearby islands.
There are more than a dozen islands off the coast of Sihanoukville for tourists to hop around. Most of them are yet to be developed for an overnight stay with the exception of Bamboo Island
or Koh Russei in Khmer. Many guesthouses, restaurants and cafes on Occheuteal and Serendipity beaches offer trips and packages to these islands.
Soon Nail Island (also called Magic Island because it looks like a mushroom) will have a hotel run by the Russian owners of the Snake House. They already have a pier and most of the hotel and restaurant are finished.
is situated west of the Sihanoukville coast. It offers the fantastic strand of beach on its southwest, stretching about 5 km. It has fresh water resources on the island and a bustling fishing community on the southeast with basic supplies including fresh water, fish and crab.
Koh Rong Samlon
Koh Rong Samlon
is a bit smaller than Koh Rong and situated on its south. Beautiful beaches
are on the east coast, where a large heart-shaped bay
with some shellfish
cultivation is located, and on the north shoreline facing Koh Rong.
is located quite far from the main shoreline of Sihanoukville. Going there needs trippers
to stay overnight on board. It offers interesting diving spots most of which are not frequently explored. The island is home to a military outpost and travelers should expect to be boarded by military personnel when out at the island.
For administrative purposes Sihanoukville is a municipality, holding the same status as a province. It is subdivided into 3 districts.