With its stunning white-sand beaches and azure waters, Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s principal beach resort. Spread across three districts, the town encompasses a large port zone and was named after the former king, Sihanouk. Locals, however, still refer to it by its old name, Kompong Som. Although the town is of no real architectural interest, it is now the focus of large-scale international investment and visitors will find excellent facilities including banks, restaurants, bars, Internet cafés, and upscale hotels. The town’s upgraded international airport was reopened in 2009.
The pretty, white-sand bay of Victory Beach is located directly below Victory Hill. Its southern end is also known as Lamherkay Beach. Victory Beach is about 984 ft (300 m) long, and its western orientation means that it is perfectly aligned to view sunsets. The Airport Club located here has a DJ and dancing at night, and it also serves drinks and meals. Located about 1 mile (2 km) offshore is Koh Pos, or Snake Island, which is easily accessible by boat.
Another lovely tropical bay, Independence Beach gets its name from the renovated Independence Hotel on the hilltop directly north of this stretch of coastline. It is a privately owned space, with fine, pale sand and some wonderful swimming. Visitors can either buy a drink or two from the hotel’s beach café to avoid paying an entrance fee, or head straight to the southern section of the beach, a small part of which is open to all. However, the beach here is crowded with street vendors selling trinkets and fruits.
With shimmering white sand and the sea a surreal shade of turquoise, Sokha Beach is certainly worth a visit. The crescent-shaped stretch of sand runs for about 1 mile (2 km) between two small wooded bluffs. Directly behind the beach is the sprawling Sokha Beach Resort, which officially owns this stretch. Visitors who want to linger have to pay an entrance fee, which includes use of the resort’s pool. The beach has deck chairs and snack stalls operated by the resort.
This beach is the main tourist hot spot in Sihanoukville, and is the closest to the hotel strip. The beach’s northern end is heavily built up. The small rocky cove here, known as Serendipity Beach, is the most pleasant part of Occheuteal Beach despite there being no sand. It is home to upscale bungalows as well as some of the town’s best-known bars and restaurants. In contrast, the southern end is far less developed.
This casuarina-lined beach plays host to sunbathers and watersports enthusiasts who can rent tubes, banana boats, and jet skis to enjoy the warm water. A strip of shack- like bar-restaurants along the beach also offer cheap beer deals and seafood specials.
Unfortunately, the beach suffers from erosion, which is a serious problem here as most buildings have been built too close to the water. Visitors may come across some unpleasant sights, such as sand bags, owing to the rapid development taking place. However, half way down the beach, there is a nice stretch of white sand and shallow water.
Prek Treng Beach
Located north of the port, Prek Treng Beach is a fairly deserted, long, thin crescent of sand with shallow blue water. Visitors are advised to bring their own drinks and snacks as there are no facilities available here. At high tide, this beach is quite narrow and the shoreline is rocky in places.
Immediately south of Occheuteal, behind a small headland, Otres Beach is a wonderful golden stretch of sand, lined with graceful casuarina trees. The beach itself is narrow, but about 2 miles (3 km) long and dotted with sun loungers, which visitors can use in exchange for a drink or a snack. Although a lot of the land here has been bought by developers, for the time being the place is still pristine.
There are a number of small-scale bungalow operations, which offer inexpensive accommodations right on the beachfront with very little traffic to disturb the peace. The beach is not served by public transport but can be reached by rented cars or tuk-tuks from the town center, or on foot from Occheuteal Beach.