Sihanoukville – Cambodia’s Beach Coast

Sihanoukville – Cambodia's Tourist Beach

Sihanoukville – pronounced “San-Hoe-Ville”.

Fila our guide kept making us so excited to be heading to the beach. We were all pumped to have a few days relaxing and being in the Gulf of Thailand – Cambodian style.

Unfortunately, primarily only for us, Sihanoukville, while very relaxing, was a slap in the face after the country life we’d been experiencing. It honestly felt like Kuta Beach to us. It was just so strange to head down this rutted dirt road lined with NGO shops and internet cafe’s only to turn at the end and find 3 kms of beach lined with beach chairs and hedonistic tourists clicking their fingers for more beer, massage or cocktail (insert appropriate tourism verb here…).

Don't get me wrong, the beach itself is quite lovely but it was just so hard to take after being in “real” Cambodia for a few weeks. It was like everything that is wrong with western tourists going to South East Asia. I literally saw tourists clicking their fingers or abusing the local servers. Disgraceful. What's wrong with people??

The upside we thought would be some amazing locally caught seafood, but it was to be the last night there before we found any. There are beachside restaurants and bars lining the sand, but they have all learnt to cater to what the tourists want, so if you want to come to a beach in the middle of nowhere and eat Chicken Schnitzel, Sihanoukville is the place for you. It was soul destroying to see the amazing Cambodian food served only off the beach or in little out of the way places. That's where we do usually eat if truth be known, but I just don't get why people come to somewhere outside their comfort zone and then only eat western food. Their loss I guess.

Relaxing for the day

The girls and their friends decided they were going to spend the $20 each and use the pool at one of the big resorts.

Brad and I decided to take a Tuk Tuk over to Victory Beach which is over the other side of the headland.

That was the best decision we made.

There was this really cool cafe that is actually a MASSIVE Russian plane called the Airport Club. It was the strangest thing but the beach was lovely and they were happy to see us.

It was so quiet, and we met some lovely local ladies, who when they realised we weren't going to buy anything just sat with us to chat. 4 hours, lunch and low tide later, they left us and went on their way. We spent the entire day there on a lilo, in the shade of a palm tree, eating local food from the Airport Cafe and of course we might have had a few cocktails.

We also saw a really cool house in such a great location that we actually considered for quite some time, moving over there, factory and all. A simpler life always sounds better to me, but Brad needed some time to think about it and has never brought it up again. Cest La Vie.

UPDATE: I hear that now the Airport Club and plane have gone and that there is a massive port being build off Victory Beach so it may no longer be like this.

Sihanoukville is a great rest stop on the trans Cambodia/Vietnam trek, don't get me wrong. However we found it a bit confronting after the local experiences we had been enjoying. Others didn't though – A lot of the younger crew were stoked to have internet, western food and cocktails.

The trip over to Victory Beach is well worth it for a day. Very enjoyable. We also did a boat tour out to the islands and had a great day snorkeling, swimming and lazing on the beach for a BBQ lunch.


Tips and Tricks for Sihanoukville

  • Spend the $15 on the day boat trip – but beware of the goat! (This may not still be $15 and there is probably more island trips now. We were there in 2012 when it was still pretty quiet all things considered).
  • Don't rely on super fast internet. The cafe's are cheap but its not speedy.
  • Choose accommodation off the beach for a much more affordable stay. Lets face it you have the beach, you don't need a pool.
  • Be respectful of the cafe's along the waters edge. The umbrella's and lilo's belong to the cafe and you will need to support them to use the facilities. Don't be like some people we saw who pretended they didn't speak english, refused to move off the sun loungers all day and drank and ate only their own food and water. If you don't want to pay to eat one meal, go and lie on your towel at the other end of the beach.
  • Use the time to rejuvenate for the next leg of your trip. If you are heading toward Phnom Penh it is about to get very real and a few days R&R to prepare for that won't go astray.

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Jenny Marsden - Charge The Globe
About the author

Meet Jenny, a passionate Australian travel blogger who has explored 101 countries to date. With over 30 years of travel experience, Jenny has a wealth of knowledge to share with her readers about the cultures, landscapes, and people she has encountered on her journeys. She's always battling unfashionably frizzy hair and you will never catch Jenny in anything but comfortable shoes.

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