Sihanouk ville (also referred to as Kampong Saom) is a bustling and ever expanding city. It is approx. 185 km south-west of the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.
It is seen as Cambodia's premier beach town with its long stretches of white sand beaches, several nearby tropical islands, a heady party scene and the finest seafood. This province is located on a peninsula that juts out into the pleasant waters of the Gulf of Thailand.
Most of the major beaches in Sihanouk ville are dotted with thatched roof bars and seafood shacks that offer barbecues, umbrellas and chairs, cold drinks and more. Plus, it is a town with a great party scene with no shortage of beach parties and nightspots that go late into the night. It is also a great destination on the Cambodia Adventure Tours for recreational activities like scuba diving and boating.
Whether you are looking for the secluded and chilled out Otres Beach or the popular and busy Ochheuteal Beach, there is plenty here for the travellers to experience a very relaxing time.
A visit to the secluded region of Otres Beach is great for the tourist that wishes to escape from the hustle and bustle of town, where it is possible to relax and stay at bohemian-flavoured guesthouses and bungalow joints that are available at relatively cheap prices. This is a great place for those that are more interested in lazy days of sunbathing and not spend the time bar-hopping and visiting nightclubs.
Beyond its own local attractions, a visit to Sihanouk ville on the Cambodia Package Tours can make a great jumping off point to explore some of Cambodia's southern islands.
The climate in Sihanouk ville is a tropical one that is warm and humid with three specific seasons. The cool and pleasant season, which is the best time to travel on the Cambodia travel packages takes place from November to February with an average temperature of 20°C to 28°C, with the hot and dry season lasting from March to May (April is the hottest month), when the temperature has the potential to reach 36°C. And the wet season runs from May to November.
The Sihanouk ville province is quite small in size and spans about 868 km². It is situated in the south of Cambodia and is boarded by the beautiful Gulf of Thailand to the south and west, by Kampot to the east, and Koh Kong to the north.
How to get there
A simple and convenient travel option to reach Sihanouk ville is to use one of the local bus services. Buses departing from Phnom Penh can take about 4 hours to reach Sihanouk ville and cost in the region of $3 to $4. Buses depart several times per day in the morning and early afternoon. Most buses are easily picked up at the south-west corner of the central bus station.
Other options include the guesthouse buses and minivans that make a regular trip between Sihanouk ville and Phnom Penh. The cost per one-way is $3.50 (a small discount is offered for a round trip ticket).
The share taxi is a further option and regularly departs from Phnom Penh on a daily basis. The cost is quite cheap at $3-$5 per person - but the shared taxis can have up to 8 people on board which makes it extremely uncomfortable on the long journey. A more preferable option is the private taxi that can cost in the region of $22-$25. The pickup point for the taxis is similar to the buses, and can be found at the south-west corner of the central market.
Rent a motorcycle to travel the 230 km trip from Phnom Penh to Sihanouk ville. The ride can take up to 4 or 5 hours to complete. This can give a fast and easy journey, but is still essential to be cautious with the relatively dangerous roads. There are plenty of speeding and reckless lorry and taxi drivers that need to be watched and avoided. Make sure to slow down when travelling through the local villages and watch out for oblivious children and slow animals. And for safety, make sure to wear a helmet and keep in mind that medical assistance in the countryside is virtually non-existent.
Where to stay
Sihanouk ville has a very unique character and can attract the different types of clientele. The prices of the hotels and guesthouses can vary throughout the time of the year with the high prices quoted (up by 25 to 30%) for the busy tourist season (November to March), while the cost can drop between June and October. The price drop is particularly noticed at the beach areas such as Otres and Serendipity. Also, the rates can significantly increase during times of Khmer holidays at some of the hotels.
A stay at the Blue Sea Boutique Hotel on the Cambodia tour packages makes possible to stay in well-kept bungalows that are surrounded by a lush green garden and a swimming pool. Most of the rooms are finished with an Asian style and includes plenty of amenities such as decent bathroom toiletries and kettle. The cost per night starts at $45 per night.
The Diamond Ocean Resort is perfect for the traveller that wants to live with all the necessary mod-cons. Most of the rooms are quite spacious and include contemporary bathrooms and subtle touches of Khmer artistry. Rates start at $50 per night.
The Reef Resort has a modern look and is located in the Serendipity area. It offers the well proportioned rooms with plenty of amenities in the family suites. Plus there is an outside pool for guests to enjoy. Rates start at $25 per night. It has an attached restaurant bar that serves high-quality Asian and western dishes.
A visit to the Ramada Hotel & Resort makes it possible to enjoy the great scenery with its hilltop views that look over the ocean. Most of the rooms include modern amenities with air-con. Plus there is an attached international quality restaurant, and outdoor activities like tennis courts and a swimming pool. The rates start from $75 per night.
Eat and drink
There are plenty of restaurants in Sihanouk ville that serve virtually every type of food. Many of the restaurants offer the well priced Cambodian and western dishes. For the budget friendly travel experience, there are plenty of noodle cook shops and food stalls near the centre of town. The speciality for many of the restaurants is seafood, which is priced quite cheaply.
Also, it is even possible to buy your own seafood at the local market and related accompaniments and have it cooked by one of the many beach stalls. Along the beaches there are literally thousands of shacks offering reasonably tasty barbecue in the evening.
A visit to the Nyam (translates to 'Eat' in Khmer) is a perfect destination for the traveller wishing to experience the traditional Cambodian dishes. This place serves all the favorites including amok, which is a baked fish dish, as well as several other seafood choices that reflect the coastal location. The cost of the main meals is in the region of $2-$5.
The Starfish Bakery & Cafe can give a unique western experience with food consisting of innovative sandwiches, rich in Middle Eastern and Mexican flavours, baked tarts and cakes and western breakfasts. It is a great place to sit and relax while enjoying your coffee and food and far from the hustle of the centre of Sihanouk vile.
The Khmer Gourmet is conveniently located at the weather Station Hill and serves a variety of organic, vegetarian and Mexican food. Most of the vegetarian dishes include the organic grown ingredients. This is a great establishment for Mexican dishes like breakfast burritos, veg quesadillas, veg chilli, and wraps. Plus many of the ingredients are sourced locally, including the sugar, teas, coffees, organic brown rice and organic vegetables.
Sihanouk ville has plenty of opportunities for shopping with many stores offering gifts, souvenirs and the more practical items.
There are plenty of general stores in the Serendipity Beach Road area that can make it really easy to put together everything needed for a picnic for those planning to explore one of the islands. Plus, they also include practical items like sunscreen, crackers, batteries, razor blades, biscuits, etc.
For those that are in the Otres region, there are plenty of stores and tour operators that can help with moto-hire, onward travel and organising your daily trips, as well as supplying the essential supplies like snacks, swimwear and sunscreen.
For the most complete shopping experience on the Indochina tour packages that is similar to a supermarket, the best place to visit is Samudera on Ekareach Street that has virtually everything you will need and includes plenty of French branded items.
There are also plenty of specialist shops including Q&A which deals in second-hand books, Tapang trades in good quality T-shirts, scarves and bags that have been made by street kids and run by a local NGO, and starfish is a bakery that also sells a variety of gifts and silks.
Also, there is the local Psar Leu Market that makes it possible to get a glimpse of the local way of life and is abundant in a wide range of clothes, gifts and food (fresh and prepared). This is a great place to visit to experience the local tropical fruit. There is also Samudara Market nearby that offers plenty of western-style comfort foods.
Things to see and do
At 4 km in length, the Ochheuteal Beach is the most popular in Sihanouk ville and very popular with weekenders and travellers alike. Most of the beach is lined with thatched roof bars and seafood shacks. The most relaxing part of the beach is the southern section. Also, Serendipity beach is relatively close by and a popular choice for the budget travellers on the Cambodia Package Holiday.
Most of Occheuteal beach gets packed with local families visiting on the weekends looking for some beach time. Also there are certain areas that aren't very clean, such as those near the beach bar section, so it is best to find spots that are relatively clear of this area
A visit to Serendipity Beach is perfect for the budget travellers that are in search of cheap accommodation as well as bars, shops and eateries. This beach is often lively and one of the more favoured choices with the tourist trade.
Otres Beach is further south from Ochheuteal and in many ways is quite similar to that beach. This beach is easily reached via Queen Hill Resort. Otres beach is mostly undeveloped and therefore makes the most peaceful and secluded area that lacks the busy nature of other beaches. It is relatively easy to find a quiet patch of sand and possible by walking south. However, there are still a few restaurants and thatched roof bars along the beach.
The trip to Otres Beach is approx. 5 km south of the centre of town and is easily reached by taking a moto ride at about $2.
A perfect beach that is calm, quiet and great to relax is the white Sandy independent beach which is named after the local 7-storey Independence Hotel.
Plus, there are also several other beaches in the local area, including Sokha Beach, Victory Beach, Lomherkay Beach and Hawaii Beach
Kbal Chhay Waterfall
The Kbal Chhay Waterfall is about 16 km from the centre of Sihanouk ville and gives the traveller a perfect experience of paradise. The waterfall stands at about 14 m in height and has emerged as one of the most popular sites to explore for both the foreign and local visitors.
It is easy to reach the waterfall by moto/remork with the return cost in the region of $7-$15. Also, there is a $1 entrance fee and extra for a picnic platform at $1.50 per day.
A visit to the forested hilltop has the impressive Wat Leu that makes it possible to see spectacular views of the local surroundings and gorgeous sunsets. There are plenty of paintings inside the wat for travellers to view with most depicting the life of Buddha. This is a great sightseeing tour on the Cambodia Package Holiday for its religious significance and also the ability to experience the breathtaking mountain views.
Travelling to this ancient Buddhist wat is possible by taking a moto ride up the hill that can cost in the region of $2.
Read more: Cambodia travel guide