What to Expect From Sihanoukville
With only 60 or so years of history under its current name, Sihanoukville is one of the youngest cities in all of Cambodia. Located in the southwesterly region of the country, the city has enjoyed the blend of past French Indochina and present-day Khmer architecture and culture, as well as a mass influx of visitors across the globe.
However, it’s important to remember Sihanoukville is not what it used to be. This once well-renowned beachfront paradise remembered for its trademark “sleepy town” atmosphere is now a noisy, widespread construction site. The cause of this? Chinese investors and their love for building casinos in the city since 2016.
To be honest, the sudden Chinese interest is no surprise. This place is big business. The city has the only deep-water seaport in the whole of Cambodia and si full of Casinos. In fact, there were 1.8 million visitors in the first three months of 2019 — that’s a huge amount of people in such a short amount of time.
Unfortunately, the Chinese takeover has stripped away much of Sihanoukville’s old identity.
This has resulted in many visitors using the city as a quick gateway stopover before heading to the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem.
Sihanoukville is still fun
Despite the loss of its identity and the annoying construction work, all is not lost with Sihanoukville. It would be a shame to miss out just because of the noise and dust. Luckily, there are still some fun and enjoyable areas in and around the inner-city area.
Sihanoukville’s beach life: Grab a beer and watch the sun setting before the party starts
Outside of the city to the south lives Sihanoukville’s famous Otres beaches, which are still largely untouched beachside paradise with a range of hostels, hotels, roadside shops, and, of course, beach bars for you to enjoy.
In fact, what draws many people to these beaches specifically is the Cambodian sun twinkling off the perfectly blue waters.
It’s a sight unrivalled by many other shorelines in the world. It’s here you can really unwind and relax. No noise or worries. Just you, the white sand, the sun lounger, and an Angkor beer in your hand.
Tip: If you’re up for a one-hour walk, you can walk north along the beautiful beachfront from Otres Beach to Serendipity Beach as the sun begins to set next to you.
Where to stay in Sihanoukville
Before choosing where to stay, it’s worth figuring out why you actually want to go to Sihanoukville — the city and its surrounding areas cater to the different needs of each individual traveller.
Location #1: The main street of Sihanoukville is where you’ll find the nightlife action
If it’s for the casinos and some inevitable partying, we recommend staying in the heart of the city for a night or two (preferably over a full weekend to get the most out of the nightlife).
The center of Sihanoukville is basically all on and around the main street leading to the ports where you find the lively beach boulevard with plenty of seafood restaurants.
You can pick up a hotel reasonably close to the city centre for as low as $20 or as high as $100 per night depending on your attraction for the finer things in life. Hostels, on the other hand, are much cheaper. You can find some shared rooms for as little as $4-$8 per night — expect to be sharing with four to eight different people. Private rooms cost slightly more.
Location #2: The tranquil and relaxing vibes of Otres (Village) and its beachfront
If you’re looking for a relaxing break, we suggest staying away from the inner-city entirely. The construction work in the inner-city continues on for hours into the night and very early morning. This really sucks. Nobody wants a terrible night’s sleep at the best of times (unless you’ve had a couple of beers!).
Your best bet? Otres Village and Otres Beach. It’s here you discover the meaning behind a living a beach lifestyle.
The hotel and hostel prices are similar to the centre of Sihanoukville, though you won’t find as many dotted around. We recommend staying somewhere as close to the beach as possible — we’ve already mentioned the beautiful coastline and it’s something you don’t want to miss out on.
As a final thought on where to stay, we suggest booking your room in advance. This can save you the hardship of getting to your hostel/hotel and finding it fully-booked already (especially in the peak seasons of November). You may also save yourself a bit of money as well.
Location #3: Koh Ta Kiev – Sihanoukville’s secret getaway
Koh Ta Kiev, for is an adventurers dream location with an atmosphere totally separated from the entire mainland. You’ll be surrounded by lush jungle to explore and waters clear enough to snorkel in — you’ll see a huge array of wildlife!
Tickets cost approximately $10-$13 for a round-trip and a one-way trip takes roughly 50-55 minutes from Otres Beach. Another option is to go from nearby Ream National Park — this will shorten your travel time by around 40 minutes due to the shorter distance.
Just remember: Just like, Koh Rong, Koh Ta Kiev, doesn’t have ATMs for cash withdrawals, nor are there many shops. Bring as much cash as necessary and pack essential items like a flashlight, mosquito repellant, spare clothes, snacks (these are hard to come by on the island!), and a hammock (you can set this up on the beach!).
How to get around in Sihanoukville
If you’re worried about How to get to all these destinations, don’t fret! It’s very easy to get around the city and its surrounding areas by tuk-tuk.
Much like the country’s capital Phnom Penh, there are a huge number of tuk-tuks and taxis to take you to any destination you need — the prices are also very affordable but, of course, vary depending on the distance.
For example, you’ll be looking to pay roughly $5-$10 for a tuk-tuk ride from the centre (Serendipity Street) of Sihanoukville to Otres Beach — the tuk-tuk drivers will sometimes say a higher price but hold firm and stick to this price point.
How to get to Sihanoukville?
Sihanoukville is a coastal province southwest of Cambodia. Famous for its beaches, nightlife and casinos, tourists flock to Sihanoukville for some much-needed R&R.
Among its top spots are Serendipity Beach and Otres Beach, but there is so much more to this colorful town. Read further to know the top things to do and the many ways to visit Sihanoukville from various points in Cambodia.
|Leaving from||Duration||Prices from||See details|
|Sihanoukville International Airport||20-30min||$20||Sihanoukville Airport to Sihanoukville|
|Kep||3 hrs||$8 - $40||Kep to Sihanoukville|
|Phnom Penh||4-7 hrs||$8 - $45||Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville|
|Battambang||4.5-12 hrs||$23 - $125||Battambang to Sihanoukville|
|Siem Reap||1-11 hrs||$16.50 - $120||Siem Reap to Sihanoukville|
|Kampot||2-2.5 hrs||$6 - $40||Kampot to Sihanoukville|
|Koh Rong||45min-1 hrs||$12 - $15.40||Koh Rong to Sihanoukville|
|Koh Rong Sanloem||45min-3 hrs||$10 - $15.40||Koh Rong Sanloem to Sihanoukville|