An independent selection of the best things to see and do in Sihanoukville. No paid placements, no advertorial.

Sihanoukville
see and do guide

Introduction

| 02 Jun 2014
Last updated 02 Jun 2014

Most travellers arrive in Sihanoukville planning to do as little as possible. That's a good thing since apart from beaching and nightlife, there isn't a whole lot to do.
WE HAVE NOT RETURNED TO SIHANOUKVILLE SINCE 2014. WE ARE ADVISED THAT THE TOWN AND ITS BEACHES HAVE BEEN TRANSFORMED BY HEAVY HANDED TOURISM DEVELOPMENT SINCE THAT TIME. MANY TRAVELLERS HAVE ADVISED US IT IS NO LONGER A PLACE DESERVING OF RECOMMENDATION. WE ARE ADVISED THAT KOH RONG SAMLOEM IS STILL WORTH VISITING. WE WILL BE REVISITING THIS AREA AND UPDATING ACCORDINGLY IN 2019.


The beaches

If you're spending a few days in Sihanoukville, you might want to amuse yourself visiting a couple of the town's beaches.

Serendipity Beach is the most popular. That's its first problem. Its proximity to hotels, bars, restaurants and the boat pier means it's the least clean. It's hard to believe that environmental standards for sewage treatment are very onerous and the misty water would tend to support that view.  

Serendipity Beach is also infested with sellers of various kinds that will leave you little time to enjoy the view.

Otres Beach, around 5kms south is my favourite stretch of beach in Sihanoukville. The beach itself is pretty and clean it's the quietest. You'll find it far more low key than Serendipity and even the nightlife seems to have a less seedy vibe about it.

Independence Beach is a nice spot for a getaway cocktail or a swim. The historic Independence Hotel, built in the early 1960s during Cambodia's brief post-independence heyday is a grand monument to the optimism of that time and well worth a visit for its minimalist architecture and incredible grounds.

Victory Beach and Sokha Beach are also handsome stretches of sand and sea. Nature was very good to Sokha beach but man has been less so. It was very grubby during my most recent visit.


Visiting Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloen

The beaches on Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloen (around 40 mins from Sihanoukville by new fast boats are becoming popular with day trippers. The long local boat ride was the only obstacle between these pristine stretches of sand and sea and a major tourism onslaught. The commencement of fast, modern, boat services (from $20USD return) brings the islands within easy and comfortable reach for the first time.  

Backpacking party seekers will prefer Koh Rong. Those looking for something more relaxed should visit M'Pey Bey village on Koh Rong Samloen. There's a great stretch of beach, some cute small cafes and if you decide to stay, there are some very simple bungalow options as well.


Sihanoukville - The town

Sihanoukville town doesn't offer a whole lot to draw you away from the beach. If you want to break away from standard tourist fare, it might be a good choice for a local dinner.

Architecture buffs will find a handful of examples of the new modern architecture that blossomed in Cambodia in the late 50s and early 60s. A decade ago, the beach area around Sihanoukville had many large homes from this period. Most have been destroyed - the heavy stone walls being the only remnants.


Ream National Park

Ream National Park is 18 kms from Sihanoukville and it's a popular day trip away from the beach and nightlife of the town.

It's possible to book a tour with your guest house or hotel or go to the Ranger's station in the park and organise your guide and tour directly. The latter option is more risky should the Ranger be unavailable.  

The Ream National Park tour gets mixed reviews and is really only worthwhile for those with a lot of time to spare in Sihanoukville.