When your home base for holiday is Sihanoukville, or Kampong Saom, you are in a prime location for day-trips to the many islands that pepper Cambodia’s coastline. These islands are amazing spots to hole up in for a couple days as crystal clear waters lap against pristine white sand beaches. Beyond sunbathing, you can try snorkelling, diving, lounging or taking walks along the shore. Anything that will improve your level of comfort and relaxation are absolutely encouraged, and some say the further away from the mainland you get, the more your island experience will improve.
But Sihanoukville isn’t just about island life. The town itself sits in the centre of a small peninsula that juts into the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Here, the main beaches are lined with thatch-roofed seafood shacks and bars offering cold drinks, umbrellas and chairs, BBQ and more. Could you ask for more from paradise? Here’s your guide to the beaches you can—and should!—visit while staying in Sihanoukville.
This beautiful beach is located in front of Koh Pors, which is also known as Snake Island. It offers a number of services for beachgoers who hope to call Victory Beach their own for a day. From well-kept and comfortable restrooms to fresh water to reliable transportation service to and from the island, this beach has it all. Because of these extra amenities, it draws bigger crowds, including locals and international visitors alike.
While the name Independence Beach may conjure up images of soldiers storming beaches, defending and protecting their countries on the sandy dunes, this Independence Beach is named after the Independence Hotel which was built as a symbol of strength and optimism after Cambodia became independent from France. Be aware that street signs will refer to the beach as "7-Chann Beach”, but locally you will always hear this stretch of sand being called Independence Beach.
To get to the lovely and mostly deserted Otres beach, you can walk from South Ochheuteal Beach, over the bridge to Queen Hill and then down the hill. Most people visiting the beach will take the new road, behind the "golf course" for a 10 - 15 minute ride from town. If you haven’t rented a car, don’t fret. The ever-present motorcycle taxis and tuk tuks can get you there for somewhere in between $2AUD and $6AUD. Always aim to get back into town before the sun sets as there are no lights on the road and transportation can get dangerous.
Ochheuteal is one of the most popular beaches on the island, and for good reason. With plenty of nearby hotels, guesthouses, bars and restaurants located nearby, Ochheuteal Beach is a 3km stretch of fine sand just ready and waiting to entertain you. The roads behind this beach are chock full of high-quality hotels and guesthouses while the beach itself is full of beach-themed bars and restaurants. Beyond this, there are freshwater showers and toilets available to anyone visiting the beach—regardless of when you decide to head to Ochheuteal. During the day this beach is packed with Cambodian families and sun-soaking tourists; by night, the BBQs are fired up and the cocktails are flowing on into the early morning.
As always, when you are in an open space, be sure to keep a close watch on your valuables. Whenever possible, keep your money and important documents on your person and when you cannot, be sure they are hidden out of plain sight. Thievery isn’t especially common in Cambodia, but there’s no reason to tempt a pickpocket with your gear out in the open. If you do happen to have your things stolen, be sure to immediately contact your travel insurance provider to make your claim and ensure whatever valuables were lost can be restored.
When you visit the beaches of Sihanoukville you will meet many children. They will be offering to sell you little trinkets or souvenirs, but remember that buying from the children on the beaches or street keeps them on the beaches or street. As long as they make an income this way, their parents will send them out to work. If you see a child in danger, call the ChildSafe 24 hour hotline on 012-478100 managed by a team of English speaking Khmer social workers from M'Lop Tapang program for street children.
Image courtesy of Flickr user daisyandtom.