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Beach at Sihanoukville  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.de/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Cambodia > Sihanoukville Province > Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville Travel Guide

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    Sihanoukville (Krong Preah Seihanu), formerly Kompong Som and familiarly just Snookyville or even Snooky is a seaside town featuring Cambodia's best-known beaches.                 

    In a land with thousands of years of history, Sihanoukville is a colourful but tragic upstart. A mere fifty years ago, a French-Cambodian construction carved a camp out of the jungle and started building the first deep-sea port of a newly independent Cambodia. Named Sihanoukville in 1964 after the ruling prince of Cambodia, the booming port and its golden beaches soon drew Cambodia's jetsetting elite, spawning the first Angkor Beer brewery and the modernist seven-story Independence Hotel which, claim locals, even played host to Jacqueline Kennedy on her whirlwind tour of Cambodia in 1967.

    Alas, the party came to an abrupt end in 1970 when Sihanouk was deposed in a coup and Cambodia descended into civil war.

    Beach at Sihanoukville  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.de/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>
     The town – renamed Kompong Som – soon fell on hard times: the victorious Khmer Rouge used the Independence Hotel for target practice and, when they made the mistake of hijacking an American container ship, the port was bombed by the U.S. Air Force. Even after Pol Pot's regime was driven from power, the bumpy highway to the capital was long notorious for banditry and the beaches stayed empty.

    Peace returned in 1993 following the historic elections organized by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia ( UNTAC) and in the ensuing ten years Sihanoukville has been busy picking up the pieces. First visited only by a few intrepid backpackers, guidebooks still talk of walls pockmarked by bullets, but any signs of war are hard to spot in today's Sihanoukville, whose new symbol seems to be the construction site. After 30 years of housing only ghosts, the Independence Hotel is up and running again, more and more Khmers and expats have settled down to run bars and restaurants, and the knowledge of what the New York Times dubbed "Asia's next trendsetting beach" is starting to spread.

    Dried seafood at Sihanoukville's market  <span style='white-space:nowrap;'><img src='http://www.guidegecko.de/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click to enlarge</span>

    Since Snooky is a relatively new city (1950) and did grow along with the steady growth of the tourists, all the negative elements came along. It is not safe (even for men) to walk alone on the beach after 9pm, there are plenty of glue sniffing kids and a lot of Java (Methamphetamine) smoking girls and boys and probably the worst Tuk Tuk Mafia (all with price agreements. But the worst are the relatively old Foreigners spending a lot of time there during the cold winter months together with an 40 or even younger girl, but not talking to her at all. And of course these guys they start drinking beer at 9am and don't stop unil 10pm........ Your best bet for a relaxing holiday is OTRES beach to the east or then to one of these guest houses on the Islands. Then you can still enjoy it.

    Best beaches

    The town itself doesn't offer much to see. The main reason to visit Sihanoukville is the beaches. They are not as crowded as many of those in Thailand, but can be cramped on weekends and holidays. Like many beaches in Southeast Asia, they are covered in a lot of rubbish, but Otres beach is very clean.

    • Victory Beach, (south of the commercial port) - plenty of budget accommodation nearby on Weather Station Hill. This beach is close to the seaport.  
    • Independence Beach - also known as '7-chann beach' after the seven-storey Independence Hotel 
    • Sokha Beach - owned by Sokha Beach Resort, it is private but you can access it by paying a couple dollars. You won't have many people begging or trying to sell you something here.
    • Ochheuteal Beach - is a long and narrow strip of white sand beach located in Sangkat No3. The northern section has now become known as Serendipity Beach, a popular beach with western tourists, noted for small guesthouse rooms right on the beach. There are around 30 beach huts serving good value meals and a wide selection of drinks,. a golf-course development at the southern end, and a cluster of mid-range hotels and restaurants near the MP base in the middle. Grass umbrellas, rentable beach chairs and little drink huts line the beach from one end to the other. Les Feuilles), within walking distance of the hotels. Further south along the beach in front of the golf course development, a number of budget traveler/backpacker oriented bar/restaurant/beach hangouts have sprung up offering chairs, umbrellas, drinks and a chill-out atmosphere. Expect noise and exhaust fumes though from the numerous 2stroke jet skis in the area. Swimming can be dangerous and several tourists have been killed by jet skis.  
    • Serendipity Beach -guesthouses and bar/restaurants right on the beach, open until the early hours. This beach seems to be the most popular and typically has the greatest number of people on the beach. Serendipity Beach is connected to Ochheuteal beach.  
    • Otres Beach, (South-east of Serendipity and Ochheuteal Beaches) - amazing 4km long stretch of clean, white sands. less crowded and definitely more relaxed than other beaches in Sihanoukville. every season more and more beach bars and guesthouses are poping up along the beach. tourists will find accommodation in rooms or bungalows (prices ranging from US$5 - 30 p/night), e.g. Cinderella Beach Bungalows. Otres Beach is great place for lazy sunbathing but other activities also available (catamarans, windsurfing, kayaks, various boat trips, bicycles).  

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