7 things to do in Sihanoukville

#1 Relax and soak up the sun at Otres Beach

Find your chill spot in a more relaxed corner of Sihanoukville, Otres Beach. This long strip of white sand hosts upmarket hotels and thatched bungalows facing the water.

Breathe in the salty air, take a nap on a sun lounger, then wake up to the scent of Lok Lak and Kdam Chaa from local restaurants. Get the best out of your holiday and pay a few dollars for a massage, manicure and pedicure. If you want a snack, stay put: vendors often walk along the beach with baskets of fruit, freshly-baked doughnuts, and fresh seafood that they can grill for you right on the beach.

Otres Beach has two sections – Otres 1 is busier and cheaper, Otres 2 is newly developed, and the accommodation is pricier. At Otres Beach 1, you can let yourself be catapulted from a floating air blob in the waterpark. This beach isn’t just about downtime on a lounger! It’s a great place to spend a few hours running around the floating platforms. Entrance to the park is only $3, and a tuk-tuk ride from downtown Sihanoukville costs $5.

At sundown, the bars come alive and music mixes with the sound of the waves. Otres Beach nightlife is not as lively as other beaches in Sihanoukville, but happy hour is still a guarantee.

#2 Visit the more remote Independence Beach

Escape the heat and noise of downtown at Independence Beach.

Lounge on a sunbed with a cold drink and take a refreshing dip in the ocean. Find shade under a grass hut or a colourful umbrella, and get a massage for a few dollars. Don’t forget to try some authentic Khmer cuisine from the food stalls, and as the day draws to a close, watch a glorious sunset transforming the blue water to gold.

Tip: try out the “kralan”, a sticky rice with red beans, sugar, grated coconut and coconut milk roasted inside bamboo sections.

Independence Beach offers nothing fancy, only a local vibe that is exclusive to Sihanoukville. A tuk-tuk can take you to this relaxing spot for $5.

#3 Go island-hopping across Koh Ta Kiev

Jump off a cliff at Elephant Rock, learn how to spearfish, and stay in a “jungalow”.

Koh Ta Kiev is the biggest of a small group of Cambodian islands, 50 minutes from Otres Beach. There are fewer than 10 resorts or bungalows on the island with their own bars, restaurants and equipment rentals for snorkelling, diving and kayaking. The bungalows are simple yet cozy.

If you’re feeling adventurous, dive with colourful fish amongst the coral reefs, or follow marked trekking paths through a maze of jungle. The blue signs will lead you to a small fishing village, and the red ones lead to what was formerly the ‘Naked Beach’, and now also called Plankton Beach.

The island is home to over 250 bird species, as well as the carnivorous pitcher plant. You won’t cross paths with bears or lions, but it’s still an interesting hike.

Otres Beach is the most popular departure port for boats to Koh Ta Kiev. The resorts on Koh Ta Kiev have their own boats to transport their guests. If you’re booking online, the resort will simply email the schedule of the pickup and ticket prices ($10-$13). Some locals also offer snorkelling tours and island-hopping at Otres Beach. It’s also possible to go to Koh Ta Kiev from Serendipity, Ochheuteal, or Victory Hill by chartered boat.

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out the rooms of Crusoe Koh Takiev Island or Kactus Resort to get an impression of the laid-back island vibes of Koh Ta Kiev.

#4 Walk along the stalls at Phsar Leu Market

Get a slice of downtown Sihanoukville by visiting the biggest traditional market in town. It’s a somewhat wild shopping maze.

The Phsar Leu Market is in the heart of Sihanoukville, a cheap tuk-tuk ride or a 30-minute walk from the main street.

Navigate the maze of tiny passageways and try local food cooked over burning charcoal. You’ll be astounded by the sheer number of products in Phsar Leu Market: wooden baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables, dried goods, tanks of live seafood, handmade souvenirs, and a lot more. Some goods are displayed on the ground, while others hang from colourful tents.

It’s one of the busiest markets you will ever see! Crowded and not air-conditioned, you can beat the heat with a snow cone sold from a bicycle. Stalls are open from 7:00 – 17:00.

#5 Get an adrenaline rush with a dirt bike tour

Looking for adventure? Tour the landscape on a dirt bike with Straydog Adventures.

This adrenaline rush of a tour takes you across the countryside at full speed. One moment you’re driving over empty, white-sand beaches, and the next moment you’re flying through the mud. Wash away the mud under a waterfall and feel reborn.

It’s best to do this tour during the dry season from November to April, but if you don’t mind getting your clothes muddy, the rainy season offers even more adventure.

A one-day tour costs $130-$140, and they offer tours for both beginners and more experienced drivers. They also offer multiple-day tours which cross all dirt trails in Cambodia. For more information, visit Straydog or book your tour at Viator.

Note: Other organisations offer this tour, but we recommend Straydog because they receive by far the best reviews.

#6 Try your luck at a casino

Roll the dice on your trip with a visit to a casino.

Chinese investors see a big opportunity in this area and even have direct flights going to Sihanoukville. Like it or not, it’s happening. Let’s just hope the Chinese investors do not continue their development plans for Koh Rong and stay on the mainland.

In the meantime, you can try to win some dollars by playing a hand of blackjack and practising your poker face at the baccarat table at the Las Vegas of Cambodia. Sihanoukville is home to over 20 regulated casinos which cater to fun-seekers and high-rollers.

Baccarat is the most popular game in this coastal city, but casinos offer a wide selection of games, along with tasty appetizers and drinks. Sihanoukville 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.

Here are the top five casinos in the city:

  1. Holiday Palace Casino Resort (the first casino in Sihanoukville)
  2. Sokha Vegas Casino (next to a world-class hotel)
  3. Queenco Hotel & Casino (it has several restaurants and a fantastic view)
  4. Jin Bei Casino & Hotel (best buffet and large gaming area)
  5. Fortuna Casino (with the cheapest blackjack in town)

Make sure to bring ID to prove you’re over 21.

#7 Dance the night away

Get lost in neon lights, sip exceptional cocktails, and dance to live music all night long. And if you’re not ready for the night to end, you’ll find the wildest parties on the beaches.

It’s not hard to find happy hour in Sihanoukville.

Start your night with happy hour at the “Big Easy Hostel” or Utopia, and then head to the beach for an impressive fire show at the Jungle Bar or The Dolphin Shack.

If you’re looking for something calmer, The Independence Beach has Five Men Fresh Beer, a cosy bar that brews beer on-site. There are also live acoustic performances at Otres Market in Otres Village on Saturday nights.

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Founder

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.

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