Sihanoukville

Surrounded by white-sand beaches, tropical islands and Ream national park it’s not hard to see why Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s most popular beach destination. Visitor numbers are rising each year, even more so now daily domestic flights are increasing in frequency at Sihanoukville airport.

The best beaches in Sihanoukville are on the long stretch of southwest coast, Serendipity, Ochheuteal, Otres I and II all have shallow waters with stunning islands as scenery. Independence and Victory beaches to the north are smaller and in ‘up market’ areas but get stunning sunset views.

Party atmosphere builds up from sunset in the many beach bars lining Serendipity and Occheuteal beaches, the cheap drinks accompany loud dance music till 3am most nights. The increase of tourists attracts more beggars even children who unlike the disabled should not be given anything to encourage them. A tuk-tuk ride further down at Otres beaches I and II a mellow vibe is found thanks to less people, noise, and hassle offering a chilled night enjoyable by all.

Getting there

Shared taxis to Sihanoukville can be arranged from most Cambodian cities including Koh Kong, Phnom Penh and Kep, prices vary but a taxi fare split between four should be the same if not cheaper than individual bus fare.

Private company bus tickets can be purchased throughout Cambodia from guesthouses, travel shops and bus company offices. Larger V.I.P. buses are safe and comfortable with sleeper buses also available.

Bus package tickets are available from as far as Bangkok and HCMC, these packages include travel to a Cambodian border usually via overloaded mini bus and the onward travel to Sihanoukville; shop around as prices vary greatly for the exact same ticket. Still with all the faults it is the cheapest and most convenient transport from neighbouring countries, but disregard this when traveling the opposite direction to Thailand or Vietnam as the individual stages are much easier to sort as you go.

Arriving via bus passengers discover the bus depot is a long walk from just about everywhere, knowing this tuk tuk drivers tout inflated prices, getting to Serendipity road or Tola 23 can be haggled down to around $4usd, Otres I and II will start at $6usd.

Gallery

Getting around

Driving
Renting a moto or a car is an attractive option though be aware of the risks that come with it. Even holders of an IDP will need to acquire a Cambodian license to drive a car or moto. Fines are legally set at $0.75usd for a moto but the police can try their luck by extorting much more. Regardless many without a license still rent in Sihanoukville as police are scare compared to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Also be aware that renting vehicles without offering insurance is common in Cambodia.

Tuk Tuk
Sat around in groups where ever tourists are, tuk tuks are comfortable and a great way to get around, just hold tight on unsurfaced roads! Fares are slightly higher than elsewhere in Cambodia starting at $2usd rising with the distance and the number of passengers to around $20usd for a day. Lone drivers are easier to negotiate with and don’t expect a driver to have change. Car taxis can be hailed by phone via travel shops and guest houses.

Walking
The main area around Serendipity and the two lions roundabout is easily traversed on foot between this area and the city centre can be done in 20 minutes. The consulate, banks and basic medical facilities are all in the centres downtown area, basic shops and travel agents can be found much closer to the beaches. Getting to Otres I and II by walking on the beach is a long scenic trek and not recommended for lone females at night, the port and Victory beach is far too and will require transport to get to/from.

Motorcycle Taxi (Motodop)
As prominent as tuk tuks, motodops are more suited for solo trips but drivers will happily take on two passengers WITH luggage if asked but at that point it is as cost effective to travel by tuk tuk. Fares start at $1usd, always agree on a fare before you set off and only pay once the journey is complete.

Bicycle
Simple, cheap and a great way to see Sihanoukville. Available from travel shops and guest houses, when renting ensure a lock is provided and don’t leave valuables in bike baskets as they are easy targets.

Other attractions & sights

Kbal Chhay Waterfall

Remarkable around rainy season from town and back by tuk tuk costs $8usd, up a long red dust track a collection of cascade waterfalls fed by the Prek Toeuk Sap, great scenic place to mix with locals who frequent the falls.

Hurricane Windsurfing

Located on Otres I Beach you can paddleboard, windsurf, kayak, skimboard and surf though there is rarely a swell, Hurricane give lessons an hour learning to windsurf costs $20usd or you can crack on yourself renting a paddleboard for $8usd.

Stray Dog Adventures

The go to guys for thrilling and unique on and off road adventures in Cambodia, offering guided tours for all skill levels, from beginners to advanced riders. Stray Dog puts safety first taking customers on breathtaking experiences to beautiful remote areas. Tours can be seen as pricey but

you do get what you pay for, day rental is also available on the 250cc dirt bikes at $25usd for a more DIY adventure. Other activities include 4X4 tours, trekking and camping in Ream national park.

Ultimate Flyboard Experience

On Otres beach at the Queenco Resort extreme water sport enthusiasts can fly up to 9 meters in the air or dive headfirst through the water. Fly board flight sessions start at $55usd for 15 minutes, $105usd gets a whole hour but for this long riders will need to be fit. Advanced booking is advised – call: +855 (0) 888 30 11 50.

Otres Nautica

Half way down Otres II beach catamarans and sea kayaks can be rented, Otres Nautica even offers lessons to those new to sailing. Flexible rentals start at one hour but can be had for a few days of island hopping. A three person catamaran for 24 hours costs $60usd, six person costs $120usd and two person kayaks are just $8usd for a half day. Great experience when the weathers calm, a passport is required for deposit.

Scuba Nation

There are a few diving companies who offer training and certification as well as advanced dives. Scuba Nation is a PADI 5 Star Dive Centre with highly qualified and experienced instructors. Well established with dives to suit all levels they also boast a liveaboard dive boat.

Food & drink

Catering for every nationality there are an amazing amount of cuisines on offer throughout town produced to impressive standards considering. On top of the many restaurants and food stalls in town, bars along the beaches have laid back nightly barbecues too, meats on offer include steak and fresh fish grilled right there on the beach. When it comes to food and drink $5usd stretches far in Sihanoukville.

Thirsty? Sihanoukville is home to Cambodia’s largest brewery supplying most the nation’s beer. Restaurants and bars all over the city offer Angkor or Anchor beers (confusingly similar names) on draught for as little as $0.25usd during happy hours, not a beer fan? Opt for $2usd cocktails instead, prices are slightly higher around Victory beach thanks to the red light bars in the area.

Accommodation

Plenty to choose from and prices are very competitive as accommodation is already fairly ample yet new hotels and beach huts are still appearing every month. Dorm beds can be fetched for $5usd and under, stay at resorts in town for $30usd a night or starting at $10usd a beach hut / bungalow on Otres is perfect for getting away from it all. Surrounding islands have options for accommodation check out our island section for more info

When looking for accommodation sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com can really be your best friend. Put your dates into TripAdvisor and you can search by price as well as seeing the ratings, helping you pick the best value for money. Use Booking.com to search 500,000+ hotels in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Worth noting

CT Clinic – 24hr for emergencies

CT Clinic, 47 Boray Kamakor St, City Centre; Phone: 934222

Sufficient basic clinic that is open 24/7 and has a trustworthy in-house pharmacy, if you have a problem they can’t handle you can be evacuated to Phnom Penh where reasonable health care can be found.

Sihanoukville is not as dubious as some would have you believe, especially when compared to some Thai beach resorts but crime is certainly existent. Theft is the main problem usually occurring on beaches when tourists are out swimming, lone women should be cautious or avoid walking on Occheuteal and Otres Beaches once dark, many a shady character can be bumped into at night. Personal attacks don’t really happen that much though so just keep valuables safe and be a respectful traveller.

Issued by the consulate on Ekareach St in the city centre Vietnamese visas can normally be processed while you wait typically in less than an hour, not only is it one of the fastest places to obtain a Vietnam visa it sometimes costs less than other methods.

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