Travel Guide: Sihanoukville, Cambodia's Premier Beach Destination

Sihanoukville, also known as Kampong Som, is Cambodia’s premier beach destination—a coastal city in the Southwest tip of the country surrounded by beaches. It attracts hordes of tourists, locals and foreign alike, year-round because of its natural beauty and vibrant dining and drinking scene. If you seek a relaxing time after days of learning about Cambodia’s history and culture in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, a trip to Sihanoukville is a must. In our Indochina trip last February, Sihanoukville was our sixth stop.

Sihanoukville boasts of several beaches, each with its own beauty and allure. For instance, Ochheuteal Beach is the busiest and liveliest, while Otres Beach is preferred by people who like it more laid-back. And while there are many options for R&R within Sihanoukville, it is also the gateway to reaching other beautiful Cambodian islands: Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem, Koh Kaong Kang, Koh Thmei, Koh Ta Kiev, and Koh Tuich, to name a few. Here you can enjoy less crowded beaches, discover Cambodia’s marine treasures, and chill in beachfront bungalows

Before going to Cambodia, to be honest, I didn’t know that there was so much to see in this amazing country. If you don’t do your research, you would think that Cambodia is only about the Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields; however, if you read enough stuff online and talk to fellow travelers, you would make astounding discoveries. Allow me to show you one of them—Sihanoukville—in this guide.


When to Go

Cambodia—and Sihanoukville—is generally warm and humid throughout the year. However, the most ideal time would probably be between November to March, where the weather is quite cooler and there is less rain. Travelers tend to avoid the rainy months (June to October) especially if they are staying in the countryside.


How Much Money to Bring

The US Dollar is widely used in Cambodia so you don't need to change your money to Cambodian Riel.

Sihanoukville can be incredibly cheap or a bit expensive—it depends on you. If you’re a traveler who prefers staying in budget to mid-range hotels, accommodation should set you back at $20 to $30 a day (PhP1,026 to PhP1,540). Hostels cost much cheaper, around $15 on the average.

If you like eating out and partying at night, prepare to shell out over $25/PhP1,283 a day for meals and drinks. This is assuming your hotel breakfast is free, and you spend an average of $6/PhP300 per meal. Beers, while very cheap in Cambodia, can easily add up—especially if you drink ‘til morning (like me)!


A wide range of activities and tours are offered around Sihanoukville, so taking this into consideration, I would say that $60 or PhP3,000/day is a safe budget (accommodation, food, drinks, selected activities).


Things to Bring

Suntan lotion
Mosquito repellant
Waterproof case/bag for gadgets
Durable shoes (if you plan to hike)
Camera, action camera, and preferably a tripod (the sunsets are awesome—capture a timelapse!)


How to Get There

From Phnom Penh, travelers can take a bus headed to Sihanoukville. There are a number of companies going this route, but I highly recommend Giant Ibis—it is reliable, safe, and the bus units are comfortable (check my full review here). The trip takes 4.5 hours, and the bus fare (one-way) costs $12 (~PhP616).


We booked our tickets online to prevent any possible mishap and to make sure we got to Sihanoukville on our desired time. However, if you don’t want to do so, Giant Ibis has a ticketing office in Phnom Penh at Preah Moha Ksatreiyani Kossamak Avenue.

If you’re coming from Siem Reap, you need to take a bus ($16/PhP821) to Phnom Penh—travel time is 6.5 hours. We took Giant Ibis’ night bus. To be honest, it was my first time to take an overnight bus but it was actually safe and the bunks were pretty comfortable, complete with mini pillows, blankets, and power outlets.

If you wish to save travel time, Cambodia Angkor Air and Bayon Airlines fly directly to Sihanoukville from Siem Reap—travel time is 1 hour and 5 minutes, and fares start at $30 (PhP1,540).


How to Get Around

Taxis and tuk tuks are the main modes of transport in Sihanoukville. In general, you take the tuk tuk for going from your hotel to the beachside, and the taxi for going downtown. Motorbikes and bicycles can also be rented for around $2 (~PhP100) a day.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Further reading:

PLANNING YOUR TRIP
Researching your destinations, booking your transfers, choosing accommodations, and shopping for the essentials.
 ITINERARY & BUDGET
Our 10-Day itinerary across Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam; useful tips; plus our budget breakdown!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Where to Stay

Sihanoukville is a vibrant beach town and it offers a wide selection of accommodations, from luxury hotels to backpacker hostels. If you’re looking for one which has above average amenities but which won’t break the bank, check out Grand Sihanoukville Hotel—it’s currently #5 in Trip Advisor under “best value” and this is where we stayed.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

While it’s not a beachfront property, the upside is that it gave us quiet time and privacy away from the parties at Ochheuteal Beach. The rooms are very spacious, with comfortable beds, plenty of storage space, and private balconies. We booked at Deluxe Family Room for around $60 (PhP3,080), which can comfortably sleep four persons. Best of all, the resort has a swimming pool, perfect for lazy afternoon sessions before heading over to the beach to watch the sunset.

The downside? If you’re looking to socialize and meet other travelers, this is probably not a good choice for you. Most of the other guests when we visited were families and senior citizens. Better look for a good hostel—or a more casual hotel—if you seek new buddies. Check options here and here.

The beach is walkable from the hotel, but you can also get a tuk tuk if you don’t want to walk. The areas near Ochheuteal beach can be quite busy, so if you’re looking for a more secluded place to stay in, check out these hotels in Otres Beach or Sokha Beach.


Things to Do

First things first: the beaches. Most of Sihanoukville’s bustle happens in Ochheuteal Beach (also known as Serendipity Beach), which is lined up with restaurants, bars, and tourist centers offering island activities. Here you can enjoy diverse cuisines and grab a drink or two while lounging under the sun or just viewing the sea. The port going to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem is also in this area.

From Ochheuteal, travelers can avail of group tours like beach hopping (around $30), or other water activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, jet skiing, kayaking, and fishing.

Ochheuteal can be quite busy even in the day, but at nighttime, it becomes even busier as the parties are all here, attracting the drinking crowd. We loved the Dolphin Bar which serves cheap beers and cocktails and even has some board games that guests can play with. It’s a nice spot for pre-game, before heading to the other dance clubs along the beach.

On evenings, they set up seafood BBQ stalls right there on the beachfront, which attract a lot of people. Make sure you catch the fireworks display too!

You can't leave without trying Cambodian beers. One of the most popular brands, Angkor, actually has their brewery in Sihanoukville, so the bars always have fresh batches!

Otres Beach is more quiet and laid-back—and a great spot for sunsets. Unfortunately, you can’t walk going to Otres Beach along the shore, so you have to take a tuk tuk ($8 return trip, you need to ask the driver to wait for you otherwise you will find it hard to get a ride back)—it’s about 20 minutes away! The trip is worth it though, as the vibe in Otres is different. We dined in a place called Beach Chalet (we highly recommend it!), which serves amazing Greek BBQ, cheap beers, and fresh fruit shakes. We just sat on their beachfront lounges while we watched the sun disappear beyond the horizon.

If you have more time, go outside of the beach area and visit the Ream National Park, a mangrove park that lets you get immersed in wildlife. Love chasing waterfalls? You must see the Kbal Chhay Falls then. Day tours to Kampot are available as well.

If the beaches of Sihanoukville don’t quite impress you, hop over to Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem, both very popular destinations because of stunning shores and rustic vibes.



I heard that Sihanoukville has a Booze Cruise as well as a wild jungle party, but I wasn’t able to try both of them.


Now What?

Book your bus transfers from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap here.
Or, book your flight from Siem Reap here or here.
Check affordable Sihoukville hotels here.
Buy ferry tickets to Koh Rong island here. Also, read my Koh Rong travel guide.
Plan your whole Cambodia itinerary by reading my Indochina travel guide.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Related Stuff:

WHERE TO STAY IN SIEM REAP
Great location, affordable, and most of all.. fun! Enjoy the best of what Siem Reap has to offer.

THE ANGKOR WAT SUNRISE
Cambodia is otherworldly. Nothing has prepared me to see the Angkor Wat sunrise's beauty.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sihanoukville, Cambodia




Have you heard about Sihanoukville before? What do you think about it?

If you like my posts and would love regular updates on travel photos, food finds, restaurant reviews, dance articles, and drunken tales, follow Pepe Samson on Facebook!

pepe samson

About Pepe Samson

This is a short description in the author block about the author. You edit it by entering text in the "Biographical Info" field in the user admin panel.
    Disqus Comment
    Facebook Comment

0 comments :

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think!