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The Beaches of Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville and its Beaches
Sihanoukville sits in a beach bordered peninsula jutting into the Gulf of Thailand but as it is only just being discovered as a tropical getaway, beach life is still squeezed up-market. Sihanoukville beaches offer fresh seafood straight from the ocean, scuba diving for the adventurous with good SSI and PADI diving schools, island hopping, kayaking, boating, sailing, windsurfing and beach parties for those who want to enjoy such night life.
With the road system greatly improved, Sihanoukville is a great get away from Phnom Penh on a long weekend. There are good buses and vans that will bring you there from just $5. But if you want to travel in comfort, there are now daily flights there from Siem Reap. You can also rent private cars which will bring you there one way for about $100. Once there, there are so many hotels for different budgets. The most popular hotels and their best rooms often get booked fast so if you want these badly, book them immediately.
Sokha is our favourite as well as the Independence Boutique Resort as the beaches are private and thus ideal for a good rest. But if you are a party nut, stay at Ouchheuteal or Serendipity.
A Port City
With regularly scheduled air conditioned buses zipping down some decent highways, you can also easily explore the other nearby coastal cities of Kep, Koh Kong and Kampot. You can also take the coastal route from Thailand which goes through these Cambodian coastal cities onward to Vietnam. What a great route to explore even with a thin wallet. Read on about some of the top beaches in Sihanoukville.
French Indo China ended half a century ago, but the smells, sites and memories of those days linger on. Sihanoukville is a relatively modern city founded as a Port in those colonial days.
When Cambodia was still part of pre Dien Bien Phu Indochina, international trade was conducted down through the Mekong, that great flowing artery of so many countries (and so many other memories!). But when Cambodia became independent, it needed unfettered access to the ocean so a port was started here. Sihanoukville is now a great tourist destination with international visitors sprinting to its sparkling beaches and gentle waves.
Sunset in Independence Beach
Popular Beaches of Sihanoukville
There are several beaches in Sihanoukville and depending on your preferences, you can find one that best suits you. There are also adjacent islands with regular ferry trips or private boat rentals that may be more attractive.
Here's a rundown of some of these beaches:
1. Independence Beach
Few seem to know Independence Beach and in spite of the Independence Hotel being there since 1963, somehow, this hotel until recently has been above the radar screen of holidayers in Sihanoukville. The hotel, designed by King Sihanouk himself, now called after a massive renovation, the Independence Boutique Resort and Spa, gave the beach its name, Independence Beach. As hard bitten resort warriors, we paid this hotel a visit in March, 2010 and became immediate converts. It is one of the most beautiful beach hotels we have ever been (including past experience in Thailand, Maldives, Caribbean and Philippines).
You can see the private white sands beach in the picture..a glorious mix of shell and fine crystal diamonds....and you can truly enjoy swimming in the ocean as the waves are not strong the water is clear and the bottom is the same crystal sand. The Independence Resort and Spa is truly one of Sihanoukville's treasures...and wonderfully affordable for families.
2. Sokha Beach
If you want peace and quiet, this is your beach. The beach is practically occupied by Sokha Beach Resort and mostly populated by their guests. The resort has a seafood restaurant right at the beach and the place to be for a romantic evening dinner.
The place is free of little seafood shacks and hawkers and the beach is well groomed. Though the hotel is at the top of the range in price, it is still worth it for those who want to swim for a short while in the ocean and dip in the pool immmediately after. The pool is very close to the ocean. For serious drinkers, the bar is in the middle of the pool. You can cool off any time you want.
3. Ouchheuteal and Serendipity Beaches
The Busiest Beaches in Sihanoukville
For fun lovers and party buffs, these two beaches are the places to hang out. There are plenty of mid-range to budget hotels and the shores are lined with thatched roofed restaurants, bars, seafood shacks, beach umbrellas and chairs for rent, soft drink vendors and party goers. Water sports are also available here. This is the most frequented by tourists and visitors from Phnom Penh.
If you want to take ferry rides to the islands, this is often the place to take the boat rentals.
Have you been to Sihanoukville?
Have you even been to Sihanoukville?
4. Otres Beach in Sihanoukville
A More Quiet Public Beach
Far less developed than its next door neighbor to the south, The Ouchheuteal Beach, Otres Beach offers several kilometers of crescent white sands shores where you can enjoy a more relaxed and leisurely stay. Just a few meters from the waters are beach bungalows and guest houses, seafood shacks and restaurants that offer much better cuisine than the most popular beaches.
There is still no luxury accommodation here and limited services but before long, this will become just as touristed as the other beaches. So if you hanker for peace and quiet, check this out now. Though a bit far from town, there are some dive and water sports centers here to occupy you so just enjoy your beach and water adventures.
Bring your Tilley with you
There is really only one choice for a travel hat and that is the Tilley. It is washable, has a net pocket to put some money bills safely for use in your tours and it is lightweight.
You can easily wash this hat in the washing machine and if you don't lose it, you'll be able to wear it for many, many years. This hat is very durable.
It easily folds in your luggage. My husband has been lugging his own Tilley for years now and in trips to so many countries.
5. Enjoy the Nightlife in Victory Beaches
The Port Beach and The New Beach
Named because of the Victory Monument that sits at the midpoint, these beaches are popular to backpackers because of the nightlife and availability of cheap accommodations.
Food and fun are also cheap so this is the most popular beach especially in the weekends.
Where to Stay in Sihanoukville
The Independence Hotel is truly on its way to becoming the top hotel in Sihanoukville. Its recent renovation includes new guest villas where from the balcony you can watch the sunset while you drink your favourite wine. The guest villas feature showers in the midst of tropical plants giving a feeling of being in a garden.
They have also renovated the old suites and they are very spacious and beautiful.
Now for serious foodies, the beach front restaurant, The Sunset Terrace, does a fresh seafood grill that is among the best we've ever eaten and at half the price of any resort that owns any stars at all.
I just brought my family there and they had really a great time. My husband brought a colleague when they had their workshop close to there and he wants to bring his family there, too.
Sokha Beach Resort, another beautiful place to stay in Sihanoukville - Sokha Beach
The Sokha Resort occupies practically all of Sokha Beach. The pool is large and coveniently located next to the ocean so it is easy to go for a swim in the ocean and cool off in the pool. The bar is right there in the pool so it is convenient for those who like their sundown drink.
Other Places to Stay in Sihanoukville
There are many other hotels and guest houses in Sihanoukville. If you want to promote education, there is the a Don Bosco Hotel School, a non-profit hotel school run by students. Though not right on the beach, you feel good about helping.
Island Beaches in Sihanoukville
Visit the islands close to Sihanoukville
When in Sihanoukville, don't just stay in your hotel. Ask your hotel to arrange visits for you to some of the interesting places around. Visit the islands and snorkel on the way. You can also stay in these islands. It is cheap and very simple.
Have a fish barbecue and swim in the islands. Visit the village and see their church, school, and talk to the villagers. Sample some coconuts and see them harvest these. On the way, enjoy the different ways fishermen gather crabs, shellfish and oysters. This is best seen in the Ream National Park. A boat ride through this protected area is one of the best nature trips one can experience. Just off the shore of this Park is the less developed and more quiet island of Koh Thmei and here you can stay in eco-bungalows and enjoy the hundred species of birds and the magnificent sunset.
Koh Rong Sanloem
Other Newly Developed Islands
There are many other islands off Sihanoukville and the most popular is Koh Rong which has recently gotten the attention of tourists. Speed ferries bring guest to the islands in 30-4t5 minutes. Miles of white sands await you and choices of accommodations to suit your budget especially in Koh Toch Beach, the busiest in the island.
If this is not your cup oft tea, go to the next largest island Koh Rong Sanloem which offers more quiet and also choices of guest houses. There are scuba diving outfits with whom you can dive and also get your certification. Fishing is popular and you can enjoy spear fishing or overnight fishing trips.
But if you want luxury, go for the private islands of Song Saa and enjoy the first 5-star resort in the area.
Diving in Sihanoukville
Authorized PADI Centers Available
Other than luxuriating in the beaches, go and take diving classes. There are now available authorized PADI centers offering certification courses. For experienced scuba divers, these centers can bring you to some of the most interesting dive centers off the waters of Sihanoukville and the other surrounding islands such as Koh Kon, Koh Rung Samloem, Koh Tang, Koh Prins, and Condor Reef.
These places are between 2-6 hours but many of the dive centers can customize the experience for you from introductory dives to dive safaris of a day or two. They also have the capability of outfitting you. The best months to come: October - June. Visibility is poor during the monsoon season so it is not worth coming at that time. You can also do overnight trips or just snorkel your heart out.
Where about is Sihanoukville? - Find in the map
Boat Rentals in Sihanoukville
The beaches of Sihanoukville are still at this point very pristine. Time to visit and enjoy the simple lifestyle around.
© 2010 Mary Norton