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Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville (Krong Preah Seihanu), formerly Kompong Som is a seaside town featuring Cambodia's best-known beaches. Some tourists refer Sihanoukville as Snookyville or even Snooky, though none of the locals know the term Snookyville or Snooky.

In a land with thousands of years of history, Sihanoukville is a colorful but tragic upstart. A mere fifty years ago, a French-Cambodian construction carved a camp out of the jungle and started building the first deep-sea port of a newly independent Cambodia. Named Sihanoukville in 1964 after the ruling prince of Cambodia, the booming port and its golden beaches soon drew Cambodia's jet setting elite, spawning the first Angkor Beer brewery and the modernist seven-story Independence Hotel which, claim locals, even played host to Jacqueline Kennedy on her whirlwind tour of Cambodia in 1967.
Alas, the party came to an abrupt end in 1970 when Sihanouk was deposed... Read more

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville (Krong Preah Seihanu), formerly Kompong Som is a seaside town featuring Cambodia's best-known beaches. Some tourists refer Sihanoukville as Snookyville or even Snooky, though none of the locals know the term Snookyville or Snooky.

In a land with thousands of years of history, Sihanoukville is a colorful but tragic upstart. A mere fifty years ago, a French-Cambodian construction carved a camp out of the jungle and started building the first deep-sea port of a newly independent Cambodia. Named Sihanoukville in 1964 after the ruling prince of Cambodia, the booming port and its golden beaches soon drew Cambodia's jet setting elite, spawning the first Angkor Beer brewery and the modernist seven-story Independence Hotel which, claim locals, even played host to Jacqueline Kennedy on her whirlwind tour of Cambodia in 1967.
Alas, the party came to an abrupt end in 1970 when Sihanouk was deposed in a coup and Cambodia descended into civil war. The town – renamed Kompong Som – soon fell on hard times: the victorious Khmer Rouge used the Independence Hotel for target practice and, when they made the mistake of hijacking an American container ship, the port was bombed by the U.S. Air Force. Even after Pol Pot's regime was driven from power, the bumpy highway to the capital was long notorious for banditry and the beaches stayed empty.
Peace returned in 1993 following the historic elections organized by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) and in the ensuing ten years, Sihanoukville has been busy picking up the pieces. First visited only by a few intrepid backpackers, guidebooks still talk of walls pockmarked by bullets, but any signs of war are hard to spot in today's Sihanoukville, whose new symbol seems to be the construction site. After 30 years of housing only ghosts, the Independence Hotel is up and running again, more and more Khmers and expats have settled down to run bars and restaurants, and the knowledge of what the New York Times dubbed "Asia's next trendsetting beach" is starting to spread.

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Sihanoukville, Cambodia: Port Information

Modest numbers of cruise lines offer one-day port visits, usually along with more stops in Vietnam enroute to or from Bangkok, e.g., Oceania.
Cruise ships dock at the main commercial port. However, some cruise ships may tender. The town is about a 10-minute drive.
You'll find many tuk tuks in the port.

Get around Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Distances between the beaches are a little too long to walk comfortably, but getting around is easy, as the roads are wide and bike taxis (motodop) are everywhere.
There are dozens of the ubiquitous tuk-tuks around the new bus station and the accommodation areas. They are some of the most persistent and over-charging drivers in Cambodia; they have formed an "association" for price fixing. If you have decided where you will stay it can help to call for a pick up; even if it's not free, it may save you some overcharging.

Another great choice to get around is to rent a scooter. However, renting scooters to foreigners is technically illegal, and the police may stop and fine you.

WARNING: avoid the "Vuthy" agency on Ochheuteal Street 500 next to Modern Laundry in the Serendipity beach area. They rent ill-maintained, dangerous motorcycles which don't work/ barely work, won't refund anything and get confrontational when you return faulty bikes. Cheaper and better rentals are available pretty much anywhere else.

WARNING: if you have purchased a long distance bus ticket from the bus station office (sorya station) in town, beware; they have a scam where they let you wait till after the bus has already gone without telling you, then try and force you into an expensive motoped to catch up with the bus on its way out of town. To prevent get there early and don't listen to anyone but the real bus driver.

What to see in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

The center of town itself doesn't offer much to see. On the edge of town is Otres Marina situated on the Ou Tro jet river mangrove swamp and Otres temple can be visited.

The main reason to visit Sihanoukville is the beaches. They are not as crowded as many of those in Thailand but can be cramped on weekends and holidays.
  • Victory Beach, (south of the commercial port). Plenty of budget accommodation nearby on Weather Station Hill. This beach is close to the seaport.  
  • Independence Beach. Also known as '7-chann beach' after the seven-story Independence Hotel.
  • Sokha Beach, owned by Sokha Beach Resort, it is private but you can access it by paying a couple dollars. You won't have many people begging or trying to sell you something here.  
  • Ochheuteal Beach, (Khmer: ឆ្នេរអូឈើទៀល - Chnay Occheuteal) is a long and narrow strip of white sand beach and the most developed tourist beach in Sihanoukville. The northern section is misleadingly called Serendipity Beach when in reality it's all just the same beach. A popular beach with western tourists and increasingly locals, there are numerous hotels, guest houses, beach huts, minimarts, restaurants, and travel agencies, as well as growing nightlife making it one of the party beaches of South East Asia. The amenities are found around three main areas: 1) the beach itself, 2) the road running parallel to the beach and 3) the road running perpendicular from the dock at "Serendipity Beach" up to a huge traffic circle. All these areas have numerous amenities that cater to visitors within walking distance. On the beach, there are around 30 beach huts serving good value meals and a wide selection of drinks. A golf-course development at the southern end, and a cluster of mid-range hotels and restaurants near the MP base in the middle. Grass umbrellas, rentable beach chairs, and little drink huts line the beach from one end to the other. Les Feuilles), within walking distance of the hotels. Further south along the beach in front of the golf course development, a number of budget traveler/backpacker oriented bar/restaurant/beach hangouts have sprung up offering chairs, umbrellas, drinks, and a chill-out atmosphere. Be wary thieves on the beach, do not leave any valuables unattended! *Serendipity Beach. Not a separate beach, but actually just part of Occheuteal Beach. Why it has a separate name is not clear. Guesthouses and bar/restaurants right on the beach, open until the early hours. Huge backpacker nightlife during the peak season and huge, mostly local crowds on New Year's Eve (as of 2016). This area is the most popular with Western tourist.  
  • Otres Beach, (South-east of Serendipity and Ochheuteal Beaches). Amazing 4km long stretch of clean, white sands. Less crowded and definitely more relaxed than other beaches in Sihanoukville. It starts with a strip of beach bars and guesthouse called Otres 1 followed by a 1km long public beach that ends at Otres 2 – another (smaller) strip of beach bars and guesthouses. Tourists will find accommodation in rooms or bungalow. Otres Beach is a great place for lazy sunbathing, partying and some other activities also available (catamarans, windsurfing, kayaks, various boat trips, buggy cars, bicycles, and jet skis). The beach bars of both strips have a rich bar, sun beds, and a local food / western food menu. Most of them also feature bungalows or simple rooms.  
Famous places/activities on the beach:
The Otres Marina - Kayaks for lazy river trips along the mangroves, trips to Koh Ta Kiev, Sea and river fishing, sunset cruises and private charter can be arranged from the marina.
  • Otres Corner – The first bar on the Otres 1 strip (coming from the city) has live DJs during day and night playing electronic music. It's managed by a British expat (who's a chef) that serves an amazing Sunday roast lunch. They've got all night parties there at least once a week so it's always worth checking in for details. A great place to sleep at for party and music loving people.
  • Everythang – The 6th business on Otres 1, a funky guesthouse (with dorms) on the beach all surrounding an 8-meter geodesic dome. Try the taco or burrito and make sure to catch a sunset on the tree house.
  • Rent a kayak and row it to one of the mini islands that are close to the beach, or up the small river that reaches a small temple.
  • Mien Mien – a small and (still) cheap guesthouse, not on the beach but across the street from it with real rooms rather than bungalows.
  • Otres Market – though not on the beach but a short tuk-tuk ride from it (or ten minutes walk) hosts a live music show every Saturday night.
  • Richies – a well-established beach bar with great food and occasional parties run by a Scottish guy and his family. Very homey feeling.
  • Windsurfing school – managed by a French expat that is also the teacher. The flat sea makes it an easy place to start surfing.
  • Amongst the "tourist boat tours" that are offered here but are very common to beaches around the world, in Otres Beach there's a party boat, with music, water slides, and beer-bongs.
  • Kampong Pier Nup Lok, (2 km north of the commercial port). The old fishing port. Offers some nice views.  
  • Ream National Park

    . A wonderful mangrove nature reserve about 30 minutes driving from Sihanoukville. Call in advance. The organized trips from Sihanoukville can be disappointing, as they sometimes fail to supply a proper guide and the food can be a bit dodgy.  
  • Koh Russei (Bamboo Island).
  • Koh Rong
  • Buddy Land Water Park. This park is the first and unique water park in Sihanoukville. It has a 12-meter high water slide and a large pool with different sized water balls. You can also enjoy their tornado potato with either onion flavor or BBQ flavor as well as their rainbow sherbet. They also serve AngKor beer for a good price. Besides, they have a small souvenirs shop selling different traditional souvenirs such as hats, bags, jewelry, and scarfs.

What to do in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

  • Go for a ride with Ride Cambodia Motorcycle Tours. They're based in Sihanoukville at the bottom of Serendipity Beach Road by the pier. By far the most competitively priced motorcycle tour operator in the country, they run single day trips out into the jungle. If you can ride a bike and fancy an adventure then this is the activity for you.
  • Scuba Diving. There are many islands off the Cambodian coast that have lots of coral and fish. All the dive boats in Cambodia leave from the Sihanoukville port area. There are 4 PADI Dive Centres, one of which, Scuba Nation PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Centre, provides a range of diving and snorkeling services, day trips. The Dive Shop, another PADI 5 Star National Geographic dive center, offers island based bungalows. EcoSea Dive, offers SSI courses as well. The newest dive center, Island Divers, also offers various diving services. Angkor Dive is also based on Koh Rong Samloem. The main scuba diving area is at Koh Rong Samloem Island located 14 miles offshore. There is also some shallow diving at Koh Tas some 6 miles from Sihanoukville, but it's mostly reserved for when the weather is too rough to get all the way to Koh Rung Sanloem. The best diving Cambodia has to offer is the overnight trips to the Koh Tang Group, where large pelagic are seen regularly and visibility is double what you will find at the closer sites.   
  • Golden Spa & Massage, (opposite monkey republic), 011921110. Offers a wide variety of massages as well as nail care, body scrubs and so on.  
  • Snorkeling. Possible around most of the islands, with the best snorkeling being at the further our islands for visibility, corals and fish. Many restaurants at Serendipity Beach advertise a snorkeling trip, but most are incapable of properly explaining what their offer includes, but most will be the same trip organized by one of the travel agents which includes breakfast at the beach, a visit to two snorkeling spots and a 3-hour lunch break at Koh Ta Kiev. If you are serious about your snorkeling, you should consider going with one of the three scuba dive shops to ensure you get the proper gear.  
  • The Cambodian Children's Painting Project (CCPP). This is located on Serendipity Beach Rd. CCPP is an NGO which works with impoverished Cambodian children. Together with volunteers, the children create art which is then sold to help support the children's families and the project itself. As part of the project, children are provided with access to education, painting materials, sports activities, two meals a day, medical assistance and dental assistance. Social workers are employed to work with children's families. You can help by becoming a volunteer, donating painting materials, buying a painting, donating money or by holding an exhibition of the children's art.
  • Unspoiled Island Day Trip. Finding a clean and unspoiled beach (apart from private Sokha Beach) is challenging in Sihanoukville but can be found a couple of hours away on the island Koh Rong Saloem. Daily ferries can take you there in the morning or a one-day trip including snorkeling, fishing, lunch, and light breakfast. This particular company takes its passengers to a deserted 5km strip of pristine beach. It's run by an entertaining German man called Robert. Unfortunately, there are a lot of sand flies on the island so expect to be bitten.  
  • Jet Ski At least six tourists and one local boy were run over and killed at Ochheuteal beach and Otres beach by jet skis since September 2009. The number of tourists and locals injured by banana-boats and jet skis is unknown. In 2009 the police marked a 'swimmers only' area with buoys along most of the beach but the employees of the jet ski & banana-boat operator completely ignore it and keep showing off silly but very dangerous high-speed stunts just meters from shore and in the middle of swimmers to hunt and attract customers. Complaints to the police or tourist police are constantly ignored. On weekends you will see many very drunk Cambodian tourists on jet skies, chasing each other inside the swimming zone and ignoring the simplest safety rules. At Serendipity, the northern end of Ochheteal beach, jet ski drivers race between the corral bommies, completely disregarding the safety of snorkelers, damaging and killing marine life with the oil in the exhaust. A number of the jet skis are older models with 2 stroke engines. If three or four jet skies running at the same time, the whole beach stinks from the highly toxic exhaust fumes - not to mention the permanent chainsaw noise the beach is blasted with. If you want to enjoy a quiet, relaxed day on the beach go to one of the other beaches outside of town.
  • Fitness Resort Sihanoukville, Boray Kamakor Street. Located about 10 minutes tuk-tuk ride from Serendipity beach and 5 minutes from the downtown area. Fitness Resort offers a good gym, sports classes, bungalows and rooms within a relaxing garden area. It has a relaxed family atmosphere and the weights room is in the garden, so no whitewashed walls... The owner, Pierre, offers personal training classes, cross-fit circuit training, and beginners' Muay Thai classes and during high season you can also do MMA and Krav Maga here. There is also an intensive aerobics class and yoga stretching classes which are essential during training. If you want to get fit then spend a few weeks here and do everything on offer, you will be pushed hard but with expert guidance from a fitness professional. Injury rehabilitation is also on offer here.  
  • Serendipity beach to Sokha beach Coastal Path, serendipity beach. This is well worth taking a stroll down one afternoon. The path leads through the conservation area to the west of Serendipity beach and boasts excellent viewing points and a hidden cove. You will also find bouldering and scrambling routes, fishing, headlands, snorkeling, and interesting rock formations. Spend a couple of hours exploring the conservation area and you will find your way to Sokha beach which is also well worth a look. Take care when traveling in Sihanoukville, do not carry valuables or purses, they will likely get snatched. It is always best to walk here in a small group.  
  • Mollie Golf Mini Golf, Wat Kraom, Victory Hill (Turn left at Diamond Sea Hotel, (Right after the Post Office) and continue until almost at Wat Kraom. You will see signs (and a golf course) on the left.), 3 pm - 8 pm and by appointment. Enjoy an afternoon playing 18 holes of Mini Golf in a garden setting in the countryside of SihanoukVille. Including the classic Windmill hole, the SihanoukVille Golden Lions hole, and the Ream Island water hole. Free entry to the gardens and drinks served. Available for private parties. 

What to eat and drink in Sihanoukville, Cambodia


Along the beaches, especially at Ochheuteal Beach, there are many food stalls and some restaurants serving grilled, meat, chicken and seafood with chips/fries and a beer. There are a good many restaurants in town as well. Sihanoukville has a surprisingly diverse set of cuisines.
  • The Beach Chalet, At Otres Beach. Cambodian and Western food, fresh and cheap. Prices are fixed all year. The staff is friendly.
  • Grand Restaurant Kampuchea, 100m SE from Golden Sands Hotel and opposite Beach Club Resort and OC Hotel on Tola Street. Traditional Khmer food. Amok lovers and foodies, in general, have to get the Amok here (possibly the best in Cambodia).
  • Happa, Serendipity Beach Rd. Japanese teppanyaki, or hot plate, restaurant.
  • Bamboo Vegetarian restaurant, Ochheteaul beach road (just 50 m from the sea). Open 24/7. Provide only fresh healthy vegetarian food. Not using MSG or fish sauce. Use only purified water and ice. Friendly staff, ping-pong and table games. Located on the Ochheteaul beach road, in the center of nightlife in Sihanoukville. Open 24 hours 7 days per week. Welcome.
  • Ku Kai, Downtown. Japanese restaurant.
  • The Look Bar and Restaurant. On Victory Hill in Bar St. Free pool, multiple TV-Screens, WiFir and a wide selection of drinks and food. Weekly blues/rock/rock'n'roll live music and BBQ with Latino music.
  • Maharajah Royal Indian Cuisine Halal Siem Reap's popular, Now opened a sister restaurant in SihanoukVille, at Victory Hill +855-15-966221.
  • Mick and Craig's restaurant. Near the Golden Lions. A Sihanoukville institution which has been providing comfort food in Sihanoukville since 1997. Their Mexican menu and Sunday roast are particular favorites.
  • Noh Kor Phnom, Occheuteal Beach (inland, on first road to beach when coming in from town). Friendly no-frills seafood restaurant with an extensive menu of over two hundred options.
  • Reef Resort, tel. +855-12-315338, Serendipity Beach Road. Tex-Mex, ribs, and steaks.
  • Same Same But Different. On the beach, reasonable food, good price, good staff. Excellent Thai Green Curry.
  • Sandan. 100 meters from the Golden Lions Circle on the road to the Sokha Beach. Tel: T + (855) 34 452 4000 Email:
Open Mon-Sat 5 pm - 10 pm (Kitchen closes at 9 pm). Sandan (the name comes from a dried fruit used in flavoring) is a new restaurant that is already making its mark on the culinary scene in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. With a menu that highlights creative Cambodian cuisine and a relaxing and unique ambiance, blending candles, plants, Buddha’s, beautiful hand-made lanterns and colorful children’s paintings, it is fast becoming a ‘must do’ attraction for visitors to this city in southern Cambodia. It also has a safe, fun children's play area, a small gift shop and a small stage for performances for M'Lop Tapang's arts team and other artists on special dates. Sandan is run by M’Lop Tapang, an NGO that has been working with street children since 2003 in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.
  • Starfish Bakery & Cafe (Starfish Project), 62/7 Makara Street (downtown Sihanoukville) (on a small street behind Samudera Supermarket), +855 12 952 011 (, 7 am-5:30 pm. A restaurant with a purpose, Starfish serves delicious, fresh food with large portions, outstanding home-baked bread and desserts, coffee, and shakes--all reasonably priced. Staffed entirely by local Khmer with disabilities, the Starfish Project was established in 2000 and is Sihanoukville's oldest and longest-running nonprofit. All proceeds go directly to supporting the staff and Khmer people in rural areas by providing job skills training, housing, sanitation, medical aid, and educational programs. Surrounded by colonial-style architecture and a beautiful garden oasis with good wifi, it's a great place for a relaxing meal or perfect if you need to work on your laptop all day. There's a cool handmade goods store and massage center on site as well. Definitely a 'must stop' while in town.  
  • NYAM Khmer Restaurant. Near the Golden Sand Hotel. Delicious Khmer food (Amok and Curry in coconut, Loc Lak) Wifi. Traditional Cambodian food in a lovely setting.
  • Taj Mahal.
Classic Indian Cuisine Halal is located at the Orecheteal Beach, Sihanoukville, from ancient palaces of Indian Sub-Continent to modern kitchens, hand-blended masalas remain a treasured element of the finest cooking. The rich spices found in these blends are imported from their native countries and mixed with the utmost care by master Chef M. Ahmad and his professional team of the popular Taj Mahal Restaurant, one of the tasty points in Siem Reap. NOW in Sihanoukville at Ochheuteal Bech front on COBRA KTV M. Ahmad's inspiration came from researching the favorite dishes of many royal families who ruled India centuries ago. Free Wi-Fi. 
  • Restaurant Reaksa, Serendipity Beach (Westside of pier). A Khmer Restaurant, opened 14/04/2015. It offers excellent Traditional Khmer Cuisine and is located to the quiet western side of the pier on the rocks. The views are good as is the food.  


Golden Lion Plaza at Occheteal beach, 10 friendly bars in one street.
The trend on Serendipity Beach is to advertise with permanent 'Happy Hour'. The latter is only recommendable if you don't mind drinking it with ice, however, as it's often not as cold as it should be.
  • Dolphin Shack, Located on Serendipity Beach.
  • Sky Bar & Restaurant. Located just off Serendipity Beach. 
  • Monkey Republic, The best backpacker bar in Sihanoukville. Located near the Golden Lions. A great selection of food and drink. Features a pool table and a great menu.
  • Bamboo Bar, Full cocktail bar, Wine, cold draft beer, shots, teas and more. Friendly staff, ping-pong and table games. Located on the Ochheteaul beach road, just 50 m. from the sea in the center of nightlife in Sihanoukville. Open 24 hours 7 days per week. Welcome.
  • Maybe Later - Located on the down to Serendipity Beach. Late night bar and Mexican restaurant offering tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos and more. Good cocktails and quality drinks.
Bars located in town:
  • PURE Bar lounge and restaurant, after Golden Lions plaza, Bleu Sea Boutique Plaza on Serendipity road. PURE offer the best view of the Gulf of Thailand and the most beautiful Islands.
  • Captain Morgan, Golden Lions Plaza. Nice looking bar with friendly staff. Food and snacks. Open until very late.
  • Star Bar, Located downtown behind Shell gas station. Extremely cold Anchor draft beer. Friendly waitresses. Good pool table. Decent kitchen with western oriented menu.

Shopping in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

There are several small shops in the town, plus a standard Cambodian market ('Psaa Leu'). Although tourism is growing, don't expect large scale tourist markets.
Several clothing and souvenir shops are opening downtown and around the Victory Hill and Ocheteaul area as well.
ATM machines can be found throughout the city. Downtown, there are ATMs from ANZ Bank, Canadia Bank, and Acleda Bank. There are also ATMs around the "Golden Lions", on "Beach Street", at CCS Hotel and one at the Golden Sands Hotel, Occheuteal Beach.
There are many ATM's located all over town. They all Charge a fee.
  • Rajana. Handicrafts.
  • Starfish Project (Starfish Bakery & Cafe), 62/7 Makara Street (downtown Sihanoukville) (on a small street behind Samudera Supermarket), +855 12 952 011 (, 7 am-5:30 pm. Nice variety of handmade bags and handicrafts made with upcycled materials, many of which are produced on site by the local Khmer staff, all of whom have various physical disabilities. It's insightful talking with staff about the Starfish Project while shopping and observing the women sew items in the store. There's also a delicious bakery/cafe and massage studio on the premises--truly a garden oasis in downtown Sihanoukville. All proceeds go directly to supporting the staff and Khmer people in rural areas by providing job skills training, housing, sanitation, medical aid, and educational programs. Highly recommend making a stop here to shop and eat.  

Safety in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Cambodia is a safe and friendly country. However, you should use your common sense like in any other place in the world.
The rule of law in Cambodia is inconsistently applied. Crimes usually require bribes to be investigated, and if perpetrators are wealthy or connected to the government they will often be untouchable by police and courts. You should also be aware that the courts are corrupt, so contracts are hard to enforce without some political leverage. All this being said, the violent crime rate is fairly low, the police are generally friendly and non-threatening, and those with common sense have little to fear.

Cambodia suffers from a legacy of millions of land mines left during the war years. However, to tourists, land mines present a minimal to non-existent threat, as most areas near tourist areas have been thoroughly de-mined. Many tourists mistake electric or sewage warning signs along national highways for land mine signs. HALO Trust, a leading mine removal organization in Cambodia, asserts that you would have to drive through the jungle for at least an hour north of Angkor Wat to come across any mines. The threat is to locals in extremely rural areas who rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

Drugs, including cannabis, are illegal in Cambodia, and penalties can be very severe.

HIV/AIDS is nowhere near as prevalent as it was, but the infection rate is still relatively high within certain high-risk groups such as female sex workers. 

Language spoken in Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Khmer is the official language of Cambodia. English is widely spoken.


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