If you’re visiting Sihanoukville soon, you’ve come to the right place. After reading this guide, you’ll know which area to stay in, where to find the best restaurants and how to get around this bustling beach town in Cambodia.
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!
Is Sihanoukville worth visiting?
The answer to whether Sihanoukville is worth visiting is up for debate. Some people would argue yes, it still has something beautiful to offer, whilst others would insist that there are better places to spend your time in Cambodia.
The influx in investment to the area has turned Sihanoukville into a bit of a construction site, with casinos and resorts popping up everywhere. It’s certainly not the peaceful beach retreat that a lot of people are looking for.
If you venture a bit further from the city centre, you may still be able to catch glimpses of this gorgeous beach town’s potential, but most people use Sihanoukville as a jumping off point to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samleon instead.
If you’re tight on time, we’d recommend skipping Sihanoukville and doing the same.
How many days should you spend in Sihanoukville?
Some people like to make Sihanoukville their sole destination in Cambodia, unpacking their bags in a fancy beachfront resort and not packing them again until it’s time to leave Cambodia.
If you’re travelling through Cambodia and wondering how many days you should set aside for Sihanoukville, we recommend no more than two days. We think that there are much better places to spend your time in Cambodia.
To help you make the most of your time in Sihanoukville, we’ve put together a list of the top things to do in Sihanoukville.
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 almost every kind of traveller.
Here are our recommended areas to stay in Sihanoukville:
Location #1: Phum Bei — where you’ll find the nightlife
Best for: located a little north of the city centre, Phum Bei is a hub of activity. There are too many bars, restaurants and cafes to count. At least you’ll be full all the time.
Who is it for: mainly backpackers that are looking to meet other travellers and stay in Sihanoukville on a budget.
Don’t miss: the beaches nearby. Phum Bei is situated on the coast, so chances are you’ll only be moments from golden sand.
Biggest downside: this place can get busy and nosy. There’s also a lot of construction going on in this area, so if you do stay here, make sure to bring your earplugs.
Accommodation in Phum Bei
In Phum Bei you’ll find mainly hotels and guesthouses, with some of the hotels located in casinos.
Private rooms start from $15 per night in this area.
Location #2: Otres Beach — tranquil and relaxing beachfront vibes
Best for: being by the beach with all of the amenities you can think of. In Otres Beach there are plenty of bars, restaurants and cafes to fill your belly and quench your thirst.
Who is it for: those who don’t want to be in the centre of the city. Instead you want to wake up to beach views and sounds of the waves.
Don’t miss: the beachfront guesthouses. Is there anything better than waking up to the sound of waves?
Biggest downside: Despite being a bit further from the city centre, there is still always construction happening here too. If you’re looking for that ultimate beach retreat, here might not be the place.
Accommodation in Otres Beach
If you’re going to stay in Otres Beach, you have to go for a beachfront spot to make the most of the incredible views. Most of the accommodations are situated right on the beach anyway.
Here you’ll find a number of guesthouses, boutique hotels, bungalows and resorts starting from $20 per night.
Location #3: Koh Ta Kiev — Sihanoukville’s secret getaway
Best for: Koh Ta Kiev is an island paradise just off the coast of Sihanoukville. It’s surprising how such a small distance can make such a big difference.
Who is it for: Those looking to be separated from reality, surrounded by lush jungle and crystal-clear waters.
Don’t miss: The snorkelling around the island. There is plenty of marine life to discover.
Biggest downside: You need to come with the right mindset. Here you won’t find much in terms of amenities. It’s pretty basic, but that’s part of Koh Ta Kiev’s charm.
Top tip: There are no ATMs on Koh Ta Kiev, so make sure you have enough cash for your stay on the island.
Accommodation on Koh Ta Kiev
Koh Ta Kiev isn’t a big island, so there isn’t an abundance of accommodations to choose from. A number of them are resorts which can be a bit pricey.
Kactus is a great budget option, with dorm beds starting at $4 and private rooms costing $23 per night.
A lot of the accommodations can’t be booked online, so we’d recommend contacting the accommodations directly to book your stay. Nobody wants to turn up on an island and realise that there’s nowhere to stay.
Best places to eat in Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville is a seaside town, so you know what that means? Fresh and delicious seafood! And some of the best can be found being sold by street vendors and in markets.
There are also a number of restaurants and cafes to choose from, but to be honest, the quality isn’t anything to shout too loudly about.
Here are our favourite spots to eat at in Sihanoukville:
Sandan – some of the best food in Sihanoukville
Sandan is one of the highest rated restaurants in Sihanoukville serving incredible Khmer soups, mouth-wateringly good seafood, succulent meat dishes and plenty of options for vegetarians too!
The beautifully lit garden with thriving vegetation is the perfect spot to enjoy this unforgettable food.
Phsar Leu Market – the place to enjoy local and cheap food
Aside from enjoying the freshly cooked food from street vendors scattered all around Sihanoukville, Phsar Leu Market is also a great place to find some local and cheap food.
It’s the main market in Sihanoukville and where you’ll be able to find delicious grilled meat, plus plenty of noodle and rice dishes that will leave you feeling full and satisfied for the rest of the day. Make sure to grab some seafood here too!
How to get around in Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville is a relatively small city, and some of the main areas like Serendipity Beach and Ochheuteal Beach are within walking distance.
Tuk-tuks, motorised three-wheel rickshaws, are the most popular form of transport in Sihanoukville. You will find them everywhere. They’re easy to spot as they’re every colour of the rainbow.
They’re also a cheap way to get around, with most journey’s around Sihanoukville costing between $3-10.
By (motorbike) taxi
There are plenty of car taxis available in Sihanoukville, but motorbike taxis are far more fun and also more affordable.
It’s easy to pick up a taxi from the street, but we’d recommend downloading one of Cambodia’s taxi hailing apps. PassApp and Grab are the two most popular apps, with PassApp having the largest coverage.
The great thing about using the app is that you don’t need to haggle or worry about getting scammed. The right price will be suggested on the app.
Top tip: You can use both of these apps to hail tuk-tuks and even motorbikes.
Sihanoukville has a local bus system that connects different parts of the city, but it’s not the easiest to navigate and isn’t as convenient as simply hopping in a taxi. Give it a go if you’re up for the challenge!
How to get to Sihanoukville
|Sihanoukville International Airport
|Sihanoukville Airport to Sihanoukville
|Kep to Sihanoukville
|35 minutes-7 hours
|Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville
|Battambang to Sihanoukville
|Siem Reap to Sihanoukville
|Kampot to Sihanoukville
|45 minutes-1 hour
|Koh Rong to Sihanoukville
|Koh Rong Sanloem
|Koh Rong Sanloem to Sihanoukville
Now that you’ve finished reading this guide, you’re almost ready for your adventure in Sihanoukville. The next step is to create your personalised itinerary with our top picks of what to do in Sihanoukville. Simply choose your favourite activities and places to visit, and you’re all set to make lasting memories in Sihanoukville.
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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.