The city of Sihanoukville was named in 1964 after the ruling prince of Cambodia. It became a booming port and its golden beaches caught the attention of Cambodia’s jet-setting elite, who then built the first Angkor Beer brewery and the modernist seven-story Independence Hotel. The city fell off the map during the tragic reign of the Khmer Rouge and was “rediscovered” and revitalized by the backpacking crowd. It was a lazy beach town until about 2010 when it took off with travelers and is now the premier backpacker party city in Cambodia.
However, it’s easy to avoid that by staying at the lesser-known beaches and away from Serendipity Beach. For quieter times, visit the islands off the coast. You can use this travel guide to figure out what to do in the region so when you’re done drinking beer, you can get a taste of local Cambodian culture.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Sihanoukville
1. Lounge on the beaches
2. Go on a motorbike tour
3. Visit a pepper farm
4. Visit Monkey Island
5. Take a booze cruise
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Go scuba diving
The islands around Sihanoukville have great visibility, coral, and fish. There are PADI certified schools in the area that offer a variety of different dive trips for one or more days. For an Open Water certification, expect to pay around $450 USD for the multi-day course.
2. Shop at the market
The market in the center of Sihanoukville is a good place to visit if you want to shop around and try some of the local foods. Come here for incredibly fresh seafood, and marvel at the variety.
3. Rent a jet ski
Jet skis and banana boats are very popular around this area. If you want to rent one, be aware of your surroundings, stay clear of the swimming section, and adhere to safety regulations. There have been numerous accidents in the last few years due to negligence. Prices will vary based on how long you rent one for but expect to pay at least $30 USD.
4. Visit Wat Leu
This temple is located on top of the big hill in town. There is a small museum here, and it’s a great place to catch the sunset, as well as take in wonderful views of the area. It’s much less busy than many of the other temples in Cambodia.
5. Take a day trip to Kampot or Kep
These are two small towns that are a nice break from the bustling backpacker atmosphere in Sihanoukville. A minibus to either destination will take around two hours and cost $3.75-6 USD per person. You can visit pepper farms, beaches, temples, and overall, just relax in these very quiet and chilled out town. If you go to Kampot, be sure to eat at The Rusty Keyhole (for the best rib BBQ outside of Texas) and stay to Bohemiaz Guesthouse!
6. Go snorkeling
Almost all of the islands offer snorkeling opportunities, and the further from Sihanoukville you get, the better the visibility and sea life seems to get. Snorkeling tours average $16-21 USD and include breakfast and lunch.
7. Jam with the expats at Otres Market
Every Saturday from midday until midnight the local expats gather together to eat, drink, sell handicrafts, and jam to live music. The market is a delight to the eyes. The dark night is light up with multi-colored lights and funky stands offering everything from passion fruit cheesecake to shots to handmade jewelry to hair dreading to hippie clothing. Do not miss out on this incredible musical experience!