Sihanoukville | Cambodia by the Beach
Sihanoukville is the gateway to southern Cambodia’s best beaches, islands & nightlife. It hugs the rugged coast of Kampong Som Bay, 230 kilometers south of the capital city, Phnom Penh.
After getting a temple overload in Siem Reap & the heartbreaking genocide museum visits in Phom Penh, Sihanoukville is oftentimes the beach and party retreats of backpackers doing the pan-Cambodia tour.
Sihanoukville is where backpackers bare some skin, get a tan & go wild.
Named in honor of King Sihanouk, this seaside town was developed as a trading center with its international seaport as the primary economic force. But soon its lovely beaches took over and brought this town to prominence
The town is divided into 4 areas: Downtown, Serendipity-Ochheuteal Beach, Victory Hill and Otres Beach.
The golden lion roundabout is the most famous landmark of Sihanoukville where its artery roads lead to the beach, government centers & downtown commercial district.
It is within walking distance to Serendipity & Ochheuteal Beach, about 10-minute moto ride to Victory Hill and 5 kilometers away to the quiet side of Otres Beach. This is where you find all the banks with ATM machines, grocery stores, service centers, bus stations, travel agencies, hospitals and some consular offices.
So don’t panic if you haven’t packed those bikinis and tanning oil or worried about not having enough cash as probably everything that you need for a good holiday are within convenient reach.
SERENDIPITY & OCHHEUTEAL BEACH
Serendipity and Ochheuteal are adjoining beaches that stretch from the end of Beach Road towards the rocky Queen’s Hill Resort. This side of Sihanoukville is the happening strip & popular among backpackers.
The southern artery road from the roundabout is Beach Road where restaurants offering international cuisine stand in cheek by jowl with bars, hostels and tour agencies.
Further down the beach are tiki huts, more seafood restaurants, bars and beachside villas. Where cheap booze floods, parties by the beach are famous to last until morning without restrictions.
Serendipity and Ochheuteal’s vibrant ambience & proximity to convenience make it a favorite choice among travelers. With choices of cheap guesthouses, mid-range hotels and sea view bungalows, more tourists are crammed in this part of Sihanoukville than anywhere else.
Famous for its sunset views & expensive resorts, Victory Hill on the other side of town is the popular choice of travelers who like private beach revelries. Hemming the hill are Victory Beach, Hawaii Beach and Hun Sen Beach.
Private resorts like Independence Hotel and Sokha have their own exclusive beachfronts for their upmarket guests. Victory Hill is also decked with high-roller venues, old French-style homes and private villas.
Generally quiet after midnight, Victory Hill transforms into a strip of girly bars and restaurant. With its finer sand, cleaner waters & commanding view of sunset, Victory Hill is the favorite choice among affluent and more mature tourists.
Tucked on the secluded end of Sihanoukville, about 5 kilometers away from downtown is Otres Beach. It’s a long strip of beach loosely filled with chic restaurants and resorts.
Tranquility is its major selling point. If you prefer the quiet ambience, no glitzy neon lights & heart-thumping music, then Otres is the idyllic getaway spot for you.
Hostels and restaurants in Otres come in more stylish designs & a few dollars more expensive than Ochheuteal & Serendipity. There is no party scene & tourists just spend the quiet evenings on candle-lit dinners, chilled mojitos and a faint bossa nova in the air.
- Sihanoukville can be accessed by bus from all major points in Cambodia like Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampot, Koh Kong and Kep.
- Some buses from Bangkok (via Koh Kong) and Vietnam (via Ha Tien and Phnom Dien border crossings) are available. Arrange this with your travel agency.
- Giant Ibis Bus Company is most recommended. Ticket outlet in Phnom Penh is located near the Night Market along the Boulevard area.
- Domestic flights are also available from Phnom Penh via Angkor Air (Mon/Wed.Fri). Check your tour operator for updated schedules and fare rates.
- Travel time from Phnom Penh by bus takes about 5-7 hours; 2 hours from Kampot; 45 minutes from Kep and 12 hours from Siem Reap (with bus change in Phnom Penh).
- If you are coming from Kep or Kampot, check availability of shared taxi. This usually costs about $5-7 per person. You can find these taxis waiting for passengers in the town center.
- Moto Taxi and tuktuks are available within Sihanoukville.
- Motorbikes and bicycles may be rented in downtown area.
- If you are looking for dirt-cheap guesthouses (around $5 range), check the main street (1 block away from Ochheuteal and Serendipity Beach).
- Sihanoukville is the jump-off point to the famous islands in south Cambodia: Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem, Koh Ta Kiev, Koh Russei