The town was founded by King Sihanouk in 1964 as the nation’s deep water port and it has slowly been trying to turn itself in to a ‘resort’ destination since the 90s. To be fair, the backpackers discovered Sihanoukville quite a numbers of years ago and have been visiting as a secret fixture on the South East Asia party trail for quite some time. A more recent development has been the emergence of Sihanoukville as a popular weekend and holiday destination for Cambodians keen to see spend time next to the ocean. A second wave of development has started around the coast with the Chinese seeking the Cambodian shores as a hot holiday destination. Sadly this has been an explosion of casinos and party spots in town, as well as the bulldozing of the backpacking bungalows and quirky accommodations along the main beaches of Ochheuteal and Otres.
The only places now left to escape to around Sihanoukville are the back lanes of Otres, where access to the Otres Village allows a choice of restaurants and bars within easy reach, or Sokha beach. Otres suits those looking for a laidback budget escape with a few stretches of fine sands and clear seas with an added traveller vibe. The more central Sokha and Independence beaches are easier to reach and, consequently, busier.
Snorkelling and diving can easily be arranged, although the best diving lies quite a long way offshore and would require an overnight stay either on a boat or deserted island. Boat trips to Koh Russey, Koh Rong and other islands are popular and for something more adventurous, try the beaches of Ream National Park just 10 miles from Sihanoukville – a coastal park occupying 21,000 hectares, including two islands, Koh Thmei and Koh Ses.
To enjoy a tropical island escape, pristine beaches and turquoise waters away from the quickening development and bright lights of Sihanoukville head to The Islands of Koh Rong, Koh Russey and Krabey.