Now Cambodia’s most popular beach resort, Sihanoukville was created when Cambodia’s only deep-water port was built there in the late 1950s. The attraction of Sihanoukville are its white-sand beaches and its relaxed “fun-in-the-sun” atmosphere. From budget accommodation to 5-star hotels, and with its many ocean sports activities, Sihanoukville has something for everyone........
Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s most popular beach resort, and was named in honor of King Shihanouk. But with the overthrow of the king in 1970, the town was renamed Kompong Som, and then reverted back to Sihanoukville in 1993. Many Khmer people still refer to the town as Kompong Som.
The town was created when Cambodia’s only deep-water port was built there in the late 1950s. A highway was also built linking Sihanoukville with Phnom Penh. However, at that time the premier beach resort in Cambodia was Kep, which was established by the French in 1908, and Kep had become a popular holiday destination for Cambodians as well. But in the 1960s, Sihanoukville did experience tourist boom of sorts, and a few large hotels were built there. Unfortunately, the town itself is rather nondescript, and sits on a headland above the beaches.
Of course, the attraction of Sihanoukville are its white-sand beaches ringing the headland. To the south of the city center is perhaps the most popular strip of beach, which is at the northern end of Ochheuteal Beach, called Serendipity Beach. There is also Koh Pos Beach, Independence Beach, Sokha Beach, Hawaii Beach, and the Victory Beaches. Aside from the beaches surrounding the town, there are the almost empty beaches of Ream National Park and Otres Beach. There are also several undeveloped islands off the coast that can be visited.
The headland where the town of Sihanoukville is located is spread over several kilometers, and the main street, Ekareach St., winds its way from the port area, through the town, and to the southern beaches. In the past, budget travelers would head for Weather Station Hill (now called Victory Hill), but now there is low-cost accommodation at Ochheuteal Beach, and Serendipity Beach.
While Sihanoukville is still very popular on weekends with Cambodians from Phnom Penh, the number of international visitors, especially backpackers, has increased dramatically in the recent years. There are now several development projects underway, and some of the previously unspoiled offshore islands are being developed for resorts. It is certain that Sihanoukville will not stand still, but just how it will develop in the future, is anybody’s guess.