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Sihanoukville province is a
small southern province of Cambodia. The capital sits on a peninsula with
beaches and tropical islands around. Sihanoukville (also known as Kampong Som
or Kampong Saom) was founded in 1964 to be the only deep-water port in whole
Cambodia. It is gradually being redeveloped as a tourist attraction, but
despite the promise of massive Malaysian investment - a casino is planned for
Naga Island - tourist numbers are still fairly low. Also its nice with sand
beaches and several paradise islands have made it popular as a tourist
In honour to the king, who fought for the
independency of Cambodia the provincial capital was called Sihanoukville.
Located in the southwest corner of Cambodia, 232km from Phnom Penh,
Sihanoukville can be reached via National Highway No 4. White-sand beaches that
include Ohchheuteal, Sokha, Pram Pi Chan, and Deum Chrey beautify this coastal
city. These beaches are known for their quiet, cosy atmosphere and the large
stretches of white sand and clear waters and these make them popular spots for
families on vacation. These seaside paradises with the refreshing coolness of
the fresh water streams can be enjoyed all year round.
The country has a tropical climate - warm and humid. In the
monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of
crops. This year-round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for developing
tourism. Travellers need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting
volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical
Climate: Cambodia can be visited throughout the year.
However, those plans to travel extensively by road should be avoided the last
two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable.
The average temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius; the minimum temperature is
about 16 degrees. December and January are the coolest months, whereas the
hottest is April.
General information about the provincial climate:- Cool season: November- March
- Hot season: March- May (26c -35c)
- Rainy season: May - October (24-34c, with humidity up to 90%.) The best beach
weather begins with the end of the rains in November. The dry, warm, breezy
weather that follows lasts through January. Night temperatures can get down to
a chilly 20? but the days hover around 28?-30?. Many think December and January
are best with their balmy temperatures and blue skies.
At the end of January, Sihanoukville begins to warm and continues to get hotter
through July (maximum 35?). After February, cool 'mango showers' occasionally
blow in from the north. December through June is said by some local outfitters
to be the best scuba weather with clearer (though cooler) waters than the rest
of the year.
How to Get Around Sihanoukville
Taxis – Motorbike taxis are
the most common way to get around Sihanoukville. The standard price for a ride
is around $1.25 USD per trip, although expect to haggle at night or if the
distance is long. The ride from the new bus station to Serendipity Beach should
cost around $3.50 USD during the day.
Tuk-Tuk – If you’re uncomfortable with taking a motorbike taxi in Sihanoukville,
tuk-tuks are also plentiful. They’re more expensive than the motorbikes,
however, and haggling often doesn’t work with the drivers as they mostly work
with other drivers to fix their rates. A trip from the city to Serendipity
Beach should cost no more than $4 USD, and also no more than $4 USD to Otres.
Hiring one for a full day will cost about $20 USD.
Taxis – Regular car taxis are also available here, but they’re
rarely metered and they’re the most expensive option of these three. If you need
to get to the airport, you’ll have to get your hotel or hostel to arrange the
ride. The entire journey costs about $20 USD. Otherwise, I’d avoid them.
Due to construction, the road to
the airport will take you a couple of hours. Leave hours before your flight!
There’s constant delays!
Things to See and Do in Sihanoukville
1. Go scuba diving
The islands around Sihanoukville have great visibility,
vibrant colorful coral, and exotic fish. There are a lot of PADI certified
schools in town. For an Open Water certification, expect to pay around $450 USD
for the multi-day course.
2. Shop at the market
The market in the center of Sihanoukville is a good place
to visit if you want to shop around and try some of the local foods. Come here
for incredibly fresh seafood, and marvel at the variety.
3. Rent a jet ski
Jet skis and banana boats are very popular around this
area. If you want to rent one, be aware of your surroundings, stay clear of the
swimming section, and adhere to safety regulations. There have been numerous
accidents in the last few years due to negligence. Prices will vary based on
how long you rent one for but expect to pay at least $30 USD.
4. Visit Wat Leu
This temple is located on top of the big hill in town.
There is a small museum here, and it’s a great place to catch the sunset, as
well as take in wonderful views of the area. It’s much less busy than many of
the other temples in Cambodia.
5. Take a day trip to Kampot
Kampot is a small town that is a nice break from the
bustling backpacker atmosphere in Sihanoukville. A minibus to Kambot will take
around two hours and cost $3.75-6 USD per person. You can visit pepper farms,
beaches, temples, and overall, just relax. Be sure to eat at The Rusty Keyhole
(for the best rib BBQ outside of Texas) and stay at the Bohemiaz Guesthouse!
6. Go snorkeling
Almost all of the islands offer snorkeling opportunities,
and the further from Sihanoukville you get, the better the visibility and sea
life seems to get. Snorkeling tours average $16-21 USD and include breakfast
7. Jam with the expats at Otres Market
Every Saturday from midday until midnight the local expats
gather together to eat, drink, sell handicrafts, and jam to live music. The
market is fantastic. The dark night is light up with multi-colored lights and
funky stands offering everything from passion fruit cheesecake to shots to
handmade jewelry to hair dreading to hippie clothing. Do not miss out on this
incredible musical experience!
8. Go to Ochheuteal/Serendipity Beach
This is one of the most popular beaches in Sihanoukville.
However, don’t go in the water at Ochheuteal/Serendipity because the sewage
pipes empty right out into the harbor in front of the beaches. Swim in Otres!
It’s the liveliest beach area in Sihanoukville though, and Serendipity Beach
Road is packed with bars and cheap guesthouses.
9. Visit Independence Beach
This is a smaller beach area, but it hasn’t been overly
developed (yet). There are a handful of beach restaurants in the middle and a
large casino and hotel complex at one end of Independence. It’s still mostly a
quiet place to relax.
10. Relax on Koh Rong Sanloem
Koh Rong Sanloem Island is a smaller version of Koh Rong,
with some really beautiful beaches on the eastern side. The sea life around
here is very diverse and makes for great diving and snorkeling. Most day trips
cost from $20 USD.
11. Go to Bokor National Park
At Bokor National Park you can hike through a great
rainforest or see the atmospheric ruins of the French aristocracy for whom Bokor
was a big draw back in the day. You’ll have some amazing views and find ruins,
waterfalls, and temples all around. Admission is $5 USD per person. Day tours
from Sihanoukville start from about $20 USD.
12. Take a day trip to Kep
Like Kampot, Kep is a small, chilled out town. This quaint
beach town and fishing village is the quiet version of Sihanoukville: a nice
place to relax near the ocean but without a party atmosphere. It’s famous for
its pepper crab and empty beaches. A minibus to here will also take around two
hours and cost $3.75-6 USD per person. If you want to spend a few days here you
can also visit the secluded nearby Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay).