Make Sihanoukville your base to explore the untouched islands in the area
It’s taken its sweet time getting there, to be sure, but Southern Cambodia’s 443km-long coastline now challenges neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam as a viable option for a blissful beach break. Sihanoukville has been on the tourist map for some time now as a lively hub for backpackers looking for an alternative to the full moon parties on the Thai isles. However, it’s clear the rambunctious beach town recently dressed itself in some fetching new threads.
The city, spread out around a peninsula, boasts several decent beaches. But those seeking an idyllic respite will find sanctum at its quietest and most paradisiacal stretch of sand, Otres Beach, just a 1.5km-long expanse of powdery white sand with a growing range of boutique hotels. There is also the string of islands that stud the Gulf of Thailand just offshore, a world away from the party scene. Outposts like Koh Russei, Koh Ta Kiev, Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Rong — the second biggest island in Cambodia — are easily reachable from Sihanoukville by ferry. They offer an untouched island paradise with long stretches of beach backing onto makeshift digs amid jungle clearings.
When to go
The best time to visit Sihanoukville is in the dry, cool period, which typically runs from late November to February.
How to get there
Cebu Pacific flies from Manila to Siem Reap. There are currently three domestic flights a day (duration one hour) between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
This article first appeared in the March 2017 issue of Smile magazine.