Get your bucket list ready. In this guide, we’ll show you the best things to do in Sihanoukville and how to experience them. Need help planning your trip? Check out our tips for visiting Sihanoukville — you’ll find the best restaurants, where to stay, how to get around and more!
What to expect in Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville is the youngest city in Cambodia, with construction only beginning in 1955 after the French left Cambodia. Since then, Sihanoukville has been under constant transformation, originally beginning as a small beach town called Kompong Som, which it’s still sometimes called by locals.
Just as Sihanoukville was starting to establish its name on the map, the Khmer Rouge came along and halted all development. Luckily it wasn’t lost forever as backpackers slowly started to see the potential in this lazy beach town after the regime had fallen.
Fast forward to today and that laid back beach town is no longer. It’s become a hotspot for Russian and Chinese tourists, which has resulted in a lot of investment and casinos! If you love casinos and gambling, Sihanoukville is perfect for you.
The endless stretches of golden sand and turquoise waters are still there, it’s just not what it used to be!
#1 Soak up the sun at the beach
Most people visit Sihanoukville to enjoy some time relaxing on the beach, soaking up the sun’s rays and letting the refreshing waves lap at their feet.
Sihanoukville has undergone massive development over the last few years, which means that the dream beach destination isn’t quite what it used to be. That being said, you can still find some nice spots scattered throughout the area. Here’s a rundown of some of the popular beaches in Sihanoukville:
Beaches to visit in Sihanoukville
Otres Beach — arguably the nicest beach that you can find in Sihanoukville. It’s lined with hotels, restaurants and bars so there are plenty of places to grab a drink or something to eat. Fancy some fun? You’ll find water sport activities to get involved in here.
Sokha Beach — can be found halfway between Serendipity Beach and Independence Beach, but is considerably nicer and cleaner than both. Once a popular beach, Sokha is now private and owned by Sokha Beach Resort, which does mean you’ll be expected to pay for food and drink if you’d like to relax here. Maybe it’s worth the price if you don’t fancy tackling rubbish just to go for a swim?
Beaches to maybe avoid in Sihanoukville
Who wants to hang out on a beach that frankly isn’t very nice? Probably not anyone, so we recommend pretty much avoiding Serendipity and Independence Beach. We think that there are much nicer beaches to be found elsewhere in Cambodia, and even in Sihanoukville. If you want a paradise beach vacation, head to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sahloem.
Both Serendipity and Independence Beach have been ruined by the construction and development that have engulfed Sihanoukville over the past few years.
It’s led to the beaches being covered in rubbish and waste being pumped into the water. The beaches are backed by huge hotels and casinos that don’t facilitate that relaxing beach vibe that most of us are looking for.
#2 Hop over to Koh Ta Kiev
If the beaches in Sihanoukville just aren’t satisfying your tranquillity craving, and you’re willing to put in a bit of extra effort, then Koh Ta Kiev is a great option.
Koh Ta Kiev feels a world away from Sihanoukville, despite only being 4km from each other. It’s been left largely undeveloped with pristine beaches, flourishing jungle and some great snorkelling spots.
It’s also home to over 250 species of bird and the carnivorous pitcher plant — plenty to keep you entertained during your visit.
How to visit Koh Ta Kiev
There are a number of ways you can visit Koh Ta Kiev from Sihanoukville — a day trip, part of the Three Islands tour or an overnight stay.
Stay overnight on Koh Ta Kiev
There are a handful of accommodations, ranging from resorts to budget friendly bungalows, scattered across the island. We’d recommend staying for a few nights if you want to make the most of the hiking trails, snorkelling and kayaking.
Kactus is a stunning and affordable option on Koh Ta Kiev that you should check out.
The resorts have their own boats and will arrange pick-up with you before your arrival. This service usually costs between $10-13.
Day trip to Koh Ta Kiev
If you don’t have time to stay the night, you can just visit for the day or as part of a tour. Boats depart from Otres Beach to Koh Ta Kiev, and the journey takes just under an hour each way.
#3 Go shopping at Phsar Leu Market
Phsar Leu Market is the largest traditional market in the city and is best described as a wild shopping maze.
As you navigate the maze of tiny passageways, you can try local food cooked over burning charcoal or buy souvenirs to take home. Almost anything can be found here — fruit and vegetables, dried goods, tanks of live seafood and handmade crafts.
Markets are like the beating heart of a city, so we highly recommend getting this more local glimpse at Sihanoukville.
Phsar Leu Market is open from 07:00-17:00. From the centre of Sihanoukville, you’ll need to walk for around 30 minutes to get there, or take a tuk-tuk.
#4 Get an adrenaline rush on a dirt bike
Looking for adventure? Why not get the adrenaline pumping and your clothes muddy on a dirt bike?
This fun-packed and unique dirt bike tour takes you across Sihanoukville’s countryside at full speed.
You’ll get a taste of the power that the bikes possess straight away as you begin your day speeding along off-road trails to Kabal Chai waterfall and Ream National Park. Here you’ll have a chance to wash off all the mud you’ll have collected on your body so far.
After a mid-ride refuel with some delicious Cambodian cuisine, you’ll ride home through thriving mangroves to Otres Beach.
Get dirty on the 4-6 hour dirt bike tour through mangroves, jungle and beaches for $140.
#5 Try your luck at a casino
We guess the recent development of Sihanoukville isn’t all doom and gloom if you love a bit of Blackjack. Feeling lucky? Head to one of the many casinos that are popping up all over Sihanoukville. Who knows, maybe you’ll be checking into a five star resort after your visit to one of the casinos?
Sihanoukville is home to over twenty regulated casinos which cater to fun-seekers and high-rollers, so you’ve got plenty to pick from.
Here are the top casinos in the city:
- Holiday Palace Casino Resort — the first casino in Sihanoukville
- Queenco Hotel & Casino — has several restaurants and a fantastic view
- Jin Bei Casino & Hotel — best buffet and large gaming area
- Fortuna Casino — cheapest blackjack in town
Baccarat is the most popular game in this coastal city, but the casinos offer a wide selection of games, along with tasty appetisers and drinks. Sihanoukville’s casinos have hundreds of gaming tables and slot machines, with several VIP rooms. Some have spas, restaurants, swimming pools, fitness centres and bars to keep you occupied while you wait for your lucky streak.
Top tip: Make sure to bring ID to prove you’re over 21.
Now you’ve picked the best things to do in Sihanoukville, it’s time to start ticking off that bucket list. Not sure how to plan your trip? Our Sihanoukville guide is here to help! You’ll find out how long to stay in Sihanoukville, where to eat, how to get around and more. Happy planning!
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Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.