Monday, August 10, 2015

Sihanoukville: From tourist hotspots to
pristine islands

See the locations on Sihanoukville Google Map
See Weather in Kep

Sihanoukville - in Khmer called Krong Preah Sihanouk and also known as Kampong Saom - has become a popular tourist destination due to the relaxed atmosphere of its beaches and Sihanoukville International Airport. So if you look for an abundance of undiscovered beaches, not yet ruined by the stream of tourists that flock to neighbouring Thailand, you can run into difficulties, as you can read here: The town that sold its soul to tourism. But Otres Beach is still a good place for people, who avoid the party. And there are unspoilt islands to discover nearby. But: As more and more tourists visit these islands, more and more resorts have been built, as Sihanouville Revisited notices.

Picture by MSNina

The Beaches of Sihanoukville

The most popular beaches are Ochheuteal, Sokha, Independence and Victory. The beaches from north to south:

Victory Beach: At the northern end of the beach is located the deep sea port.

Picture by Houston March
Twilight near the port.

Picture by .vav

Lamherkay Beach: Also known as Hawaii Beach. Here you can hire a boat to nearby islands.

Picture by

Koh Pos Beach:

Picture by -AX-
Koh Pos Bridge

Independence Beach: At the northern end of the beach you find Independence Hotel and Koh Pos Beach with a tiny island 800m off the coast.

Picture by -AX-

Sokha Beach: "Stunningly beautiful, a perfect private scallop-edged strand of immaculate white sand, dotted with palm-thatched beach umbrellas and a backdrop of a pretty, manicured garden promenade", wrote This beach is privately owned by Sokha Beach Hotel. Very good reviews on

Picture by Un rosarino en Vietnam

Picture by Un rosarino en Vietnam

Serendipity Beach: Here you find guesthouse rooms right on the beach and beach huts serving meals and drinks. Don't be surprised, if you are contacted by a lot of hawkers, who try to sell their goods. Don't be suprised by restaurants serving Western food. Don't be surprised by garbage lying in the sand of the beach. The party of mass tourism has arrived here.

Picture by WanderingtheWorld

Picture by HappyTellus

Picture by Em and Ernie
Along Serendipity Beach

Occheuteal Beach: A long and narrow strip of sand lined with Casuarina trees, grass umbrellas, rental chairs and little drink huts as well as bigger restaurants and night-time party spots.

Picture by Sandvand

Picture by Sandvand

Picture by Lorna87
Vendors of fruits

Otres Beach: Less developped and crowded and known for its long stretch of white sands.

Picture by Stefan Leitner

Hotels and Guesthouses in Sihanoukville

Beach Club Resort: From 25 USD. 23 Tola Street. 5 walking minutres from Ochheuteal Beach. With pool. Very good reviews on

Chez Claude: From 25 USD. On a hill between Independence and Sokha beach. Wooden bungalows with ventilator, shower and toilet and Balcony with a spectacular view of the sea with islands. And with a restaurant, which is famous for its French and Asian seefood kitchen. See video with rooms and restaurant.

Holiday Palace Resort: 2 Thnou Street, Independence Beach. All rooms with views of the ocean waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Private Beach. Quite good reviews on

Sokha Beach Hotel: From 150 USD. Street 2 Thnou, Sangkat 4. "The hotel is a bargain for what it offers (spa, huge pool, gym, tennis courts)", recommended Excellent reviews on

Picture by Lomacar

The Independence Hotel: From 155 USD. Street 2 Thnou, Sangkat No: 03, Otres Beach. The seven-story "modernist beauty with a few endearingly kitsch Miami Beach-style bells and whistles - a round dining room, two round ballrooms and a kidney-shaped pool - was designed by the French architects Leroy and Mondet and was one of the chicest hotels in Cambodia when it opened in 1964; locals insist that Jacqueline Kennedy, invited by King Norodom Sihanouk, was among its first guests, wrote The hotel has improved its amenities and now has a lift from the beach to the hill and a pier from the beach with sitting areas, from where you can enjoy the sunset. "One of the advantages of the Independence is it is a few miles from town and so is set in huge grounds and very peaceful. There is a regular free shuttle bus or Tuk Tuks are always available", notes pauleaston on, where the reviews are very good.

Picture by
Independence Beach with Independence Hotel

Picture by thomaswanhoff
Beach Bar

Jasmine Hotel: Basic hotel 50 meters from Occheuteal Beach with mixed reviews on

Picture by Eternal Vagabond

Picture by Eternal Vagabond

Markara Guesthouse: From 27 USD. 14 Mithona St. | Occheuteal Beach. With pool and green courtyard. Good reviews on

Picture by Eternal Vagabond

Orchidee Guesthouse: From 16 USD. Only a few minutes walk from Ochheuteal Beach you find 69 rooms. 12 rooms are situated around the swimming-pool. See video of the guesthouse. Mixed reviews on, where the owner seems to be commenting every post, what is a bit strange.

Picture by Magalie L'Abbé The pool

The Cove Beach Resort: From 21 USD. To the west of Serendipity Beach. Bungalows in lush tropical hillside gardens with views of the nearby islands Koh Ta Kiev, Koh Chu Lu and Koh Tres, from traditional Khmer Style Bungalowswith fan to apartments witth AC. Rather disappointed reviews on

Picture by Amber de Bruin

The Secret Garden: From 80 USD. 10 bungalows with fan or A/C, private outside showers, and also a swimming pool. The beach is fantastic here. What bothers guests right now (March 2013) is the noise of nearby construction. The reviews on are quite good, but many say that the prizes are a bit too expensive. See this video.

And here you find more Hotels and Guesthouses in Sihanoukville

Eating out in Sihanoukville

Chez Claude: Kam Pegn hill, phone 855 12 824 870. The restaurants has great views of the Gulf of Thailand from its hillside location between the Sokha Beach and the Independence Hotels.

La Paillote: Weather Station Hill, phone "The best restaurant in town", according to French and Cambodian cooking served in an open-air garden setting (Weather Station Hill, phone 855 12 633247).

Starfish Café: Downtown, behind Samudera Market, phone 855 12 952 011).The American baker Deidre O'Shea has taught local women to make Western bread and pastries as a way of supporting themselves and earning money for the philanthropic projects the café oversees.

Sihanoukville Downtown

Ekareach Street, the main street, runs from near the port through the town center to Golden Lions roundabout near the Ochheuteal Beach. Be aware of sex tourism and read Sihanoukville: Surf, Sun and Sex. You learn to avoid the bars of Victory Hill. "For every backpacker there seemed to be two sex tourists. They skulked around its bars leering at local girls who looked to be barely in their teens", Gallivanting Georgia describes the experience of a woman. "There were a large number of middle aged white men in the area, and a lot of them were with young Cambodian girls, many looked under 20 years old", observed Neil and Jackie. But nowadays the business seems to fading away as you can read in The Fall of Victory Hill.

Be aware, that there have been brutal rapes of Western woman and other attacks lately in Sihanoukville. One women was raped, when she was alone on a beach. Another women was raped, after she fell asleep on a taxi. Read more on Khmer Times.

Victory Hill:

Picture by Wilson Loo

Picture by Wilson Loo

Picture by Luther Bailey

Psar Leu Market:

Picture by Luther Bailey
Read the blog of Luther Bailey: Sihanoukville, Cambodia and the mysterious fried things

Picture by spotter_nl

Wat Chotynieng: also known as upper Pagoda or Wat Leu, located on a hill and overlooking Sihanoukville town. It is dedicated to Prince Chourn Nath, a Cambodian Buddhist leader.

Wat Kraom: Down Pagoda. Located in Sihanoukville downtown and dedicated to Yeay Mao, a southern Cambodia divinity.

Picture by Em and Ernie

Picture by Wilson Loo

Read more: Sihanoukville Travel Guide and Canby Publications Sihanoukville.

Discoveries around Sihanoukville

You can take water taxis to the nearby islands for diving, snorkeling, and game fishing. The city is also besides the Ream National Park. Or do a day trip to Kep - famous for its seafood -, Kampot, known for its sleepy French colonial charm and pepper plantations or atmospheric Bokor, an abandoned 1920s vintage casino and hill station.

Koh Pos: Also known as Morakot Island or Snake Island, 800 metres off of Victory Beach. It is under development by Russian investors to become a luxury holiday destination. It was linked to the mainland with a bridge in July 2011.

Koh Rong:
It is situated west of the Sihanoukville coast. It offers a fantastic beach on its southwest, stretching about 5 kilometres. It has a bustling fishing community on the southeast.

Broken Heart Guesthouse: From 25 USD. Private Bungalow. Also drom available.

Coco Bungalow Resort: From 15 USD. 15 Bungalows with balcony located along the beach.

Lonely Beach: From 30 USD. 4 Bungalows with attached bathrooms surrounded by forest and a dormitory. See their Facebook. Very good reviews on

Treehouse Bungalows: From 23 USD. On the north coast of Koh Rong. With 3 km of long white beach and mangroves.

Picture by MSNina

Picture by MSNina

Ferries to Koh Rong cost 20 USD (return ticket) and leave Silhanoukville (pickup outside Koh Rong Divers) at 7am and 4pm and Koh Rong Island at 10am and 4pm daily.

Koh Rong Samloem Island

"Landing at Saracen Bay, I’ve never seen a beach so breathtakingly beautiful. The clear blue waters swirled across the white sands in a snaking pattern that formed tiny circular sandy islands and warm water pools. The sea glowed with a range of blue hues under the glorious warmth of the sun and the entire coastline was quiet, except for the soft lapping of the waves on shore", describes Backpacker Becki her paradiese found in Cambodia. "Koh Rong Saloem is just two hours' and yet a world away from Sihanoukville", writes At the top of the island sits a small fishing village called Mai Pei Bei or 23 in Khmer. Marine Conservation Cambodia, an ecotourism project, is based here and offers volunteering opportunities to visitors such as teaching in the local village and marine conservation. There are many snorkelling and diving opportunities. Read more about animals and plants on Koh Rong Samloem Conservation. And read about

Picture by expressionposthumus
Saracen bay

Picture by Catherine Murray

EcoSea Dive & Bungalows:

Saracen Bay Resort: 45 USD. Bungalows amidst a lush vegetation, with fans,en-suite western style bathrooms and a verandah with sea view.

M'PayBay: 20 USD. M’Pay Bay is an eco-tourism project. Bungalows within 30 meters of the beach. Each bungalow offers a bed with mosquito net, en suite shower/toilet, fan, lights and a power point (electricity available from around 6pm until about midnight). Outside, there is a veranda, with a hammock for those idle moments, and a table with a couple of chairs. The restaurant offers Khmer and Western dishes.

Sun Island Eco Village: Bungalow tents, covered with a grass roof, with private showers and toilets. See video.

The Beach Island Resort & Beach Club: On the white sandy beach of Saracen bay, with 8 beachfront bungalows (some with shared restrooms) and a dorm room for up to 40 people. A 2 hours boat ride from the Serendipity pier at Serendipity Beach. See video of the resort.

Lazy Beach: 40 USD. Beach side bungalows with balcony and ensuite bathroom set on a golden sandy beach, surrounded by tropical jungle.

Picture by Catherine Murray

Picture by Catherine Murray
Picture by Catherine Murray

Koh Dek Koul: Private island 7 kilometres off from Victory Beach with Russian owned Mirax Resort.

Koh Ru (Bamboo Island):

Picture by jimdavidson

Picture by blikbrein

Picture by Tiddle

Koh Russei: Also called Bamboo Island. A few kilometers out from Otres Beach or Ream. There arewa small navy base and some beach bungalows.

Koh Ta Kiev:

Crusoe Island: From 15 USD. If you’re after air-con and luxury resorts, turn back now. Koh Ta Kiev is inhabited only by a handful of Cambodian soldiers and fishermen. You arrive with a traditional Khmer longtail boat in less than an hour. Bungalows: You choose between a hut, where just curtains separate you from the jungle, a TeePee and other quite open sleeping facilities.

Picture by Crusoe Island
Inside the TeePee

More islands: Koh Thmei and Koh Sei.

How you arrive in Sihanoukville

Flights: Cambodia Angkor Air serves Sihanoukville three times during one week from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. See Flight Schedule.

Bus from Thailand: From Trat minibuses to the border depart every 45 minutes between 06:00 and 18:00, taking between 1.5 and 2 hours. Cheaper are songthaews. First take one from Trat to Ban Khlong, then another one to the border. Onward travel from Koh Kong to Sihanoukville is by air conditioned buses, which leave from Street 3, or by taxi. Read details on Thorntree.

1 comment:

  1. Hello. Thank you so much for writing about our island paradise Koh Rong – We need all the help we can get to keep spreading the good word! We are a non-profit, independent organisation created to help keep the Koh Rong Islands clean and help the local fishing communities. Would you mind sharing the link to our new guide to help our project? Your help would be very much appreciated! You can find our guide on Koh Rong & Koh Rong Samloem here:

    Thank you!