Having landed and enjoyed Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, intrepid tourists will be looking to beat the city heat and relax on a beautiful beach. Enter Sihanoukville.

This oasis has temples, great food, cut-glass clear waters and sandy beaches. Breezing into the resort around 3 hours south of Phnom Penh also opens up many opportunities to explore this part of Cambodia. Here are some suggestions to make your stay more than just a battery-recharging exercise for the rest of what Asia can throw at you:

Reach For A Beach

Sihanoukville, or Preah Sihanouk, is the hub most travellers head to when they need a beach in Cambodia. However, this once-pretty resort now represents something of a construction site. Around 600 unfinished buildings have been identified as of August 2023, and local government officials are trying to attract potential investors to finish them.

At ground level, Sihanoukville is still blessed with several beaches, enabling you to switch off for a few hours and watch the world go by. Beachside in the town there is plenty of walking to do, to people watch and see some fantastic sunsets. There are stretches of endless beaches that attract sun worshippers and enthusiasts looking for something to do. They can't go far wrong than enjoy Ochheuteal, Otres, Serendipity and Independence Beaches.

Revealing Cambodia - Part 2 - Sihanoukville - The Wise Traveller - Preah Sihanouk

Water Sports

Sihanoukville is regarded as the "Star of the Southwest" for good reason. With around 80 hotels, it offers an ideal diving and water sports hub. In the port, dive centres offer PADI certification and diving services with plenty of fish and corals to experience. Snorkelling remains popular, while those looking to invest more time can enjoy kayaking, windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Go Wild

It might be the antithesis of chilling out on a beach in Sihanoukville, but exploring some of the surrounding natural sites can be eye-opening. Ream National Park lets you experience nature at its best with its unique biodiversity and forests. Covering 210 square kilometres, the park has mangroves, rainforests, and pristine white-sand beaches. Access can either be by boat or bike.

Island Hopping

Given that the promotion of the islands off Sihanoukville has taken time to gather traction, it is no surprise that post-Covid 19, the focus is very much on the get-away-from-it-all experience.

The first choice is Koh Rong, one of the many picture postcard islands that Khmers and foreign guests enjoy. The island is packed with jungles, waterfalls, sandy coves and pristine beaches. If pushed for time, indulge on a boat tour from Koh Rong and Kok Kon to Kong Rong Samleom.

Kbal Chhay Waterfalls

Those looking for something different can indulge in the cascading falls of Kbal Chhay Waterfall, which lies less than an hour from Sihanoukville. Located on the Prek Tuk Sap River, guests can enjoy the scenic falls and splash in the waters. Enjoy fresh food from the stalls nearby.


Sihanoukville's largest market is Phsar Leu, also known as Upper Market. Primarily a traditional market, exploring the fascinating local culture and lifestyle makes a fantastic half-day. For more of an upbeat experience, the evening Otres Market offers live music, eclectic stalls, and global food offerings.

Buddhist Temples

Across Cambodia, there are scores of Buddhist temples or wats, and Sihanoukville is no different. The resort's most prominent is Wat Leu, located on Sihanoukville Mountain, six kilometres from the town. Due to its hilltop location, Wat Leu, also commonly known as "Upper Wat", is surrounded by landscaped forests and commands views of the town.

Wat Leu, surrounded by a high stone wall, has a three-headed white elephant carved out of the stone wall with three statues of Buddha on the three heads. The temple has thatched roofs, and its traditional design resembles the pagodas.

The other Wats include Wat Kraom, or "Lower Wat" on Independence Beach; Wat Otres, located behind Otres Beach; and two in Ream National Park.

Revealing Cambodia - Part 2 - Sihanoukville - The Wise Traveller - Sihanoukville


Sihanoukville is at a crossroads as it balances between tourist inflows, construction boom and bust, and the need to maintain its charms as a resort away from the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh. Many tourists who once visited in the 2000s and 2010s and regarded it as a 10 to 14-day stay may now consider it a shorter timescale filled with activities before moving on.

Andy Probert - The Wise TravellerAndy Probert is an experienced freelance business travel journalist and PR specialist.