This small city’s most popular draw is its remarkable coastline, which features striking white-sand beaches rimmed with palm and casuarina trees. Come here if you’re looking for sun, sand, and of course, great seafood.
In the late 1950s, Sihanoukville was created to serve as Cambodia’s first and only deep-water port. This port was later an essential military base during the Vietnam War, after which it fell into disuse, only to become active again with the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Since then, Sihanoukville has gone from strength to strength and continues to support the redevelopment and reconstruction of the country as a whole.
Theravada Buddhism, as in the rest of Cambodia, is the dominant religion. In this tradition, pagodas represent the spiritual heart of any community, and you will find two major pagodas within Sihanoukville—the Upper Pagoda, which lies on a hill overlooking the city, and the Lower Pagoda, located within the city itself.
The culture in this city is typically Cambodian, which draws much inspiration from ancient Khmer traditions while mixing them with hints of Chinese and Vietnamese influence. Sihanoukville’s status as a port city has resulted in a longstanding influx of foreign cultures, creating an entertaining potpourri of cultural quirks to observe.
- Belief in concept of face
- Women should wear modest clothing
- Greet Cambodians with a short bow
The city is located right at the tip of Cambodia, at the edge of some peninsular hills, which gradually slope downward towards the beaches, plains and marshes in the south and southeast. As the city has a tropical monsoon climate, one can expect two seasons (one wet, one dry) and year-round hot temperatures.
An almost continuous string of beaches run along the city's coastline, while marshlands border its eastern side, around Ream National Park. Just off Sihanoukville City itself are many small islands that have begun to attract a sun-worshipping, nature-loving following. As the town was established much after the French colonial period, the cityscape owes much to functional Khmer themes instead.
Besides its beaches, the main draw for nature lovers in Sihanoukville is the Ream National Park, established in 1993 under royal decree. A hub of wildlife and an oasis of calm in increasingly buzzing Cambodia, the park is an excellent place to take a trek to view wildlife native to this area.
Before you go
- Language: Khmer
- Currency: Cambodian riel (khr)
- Time Zone: Indochina Time, gmt+7
- Voltage: 220
- Electric Socket: Type A/C/G
- Mobile SIM can be purchased for a few U.S. dollars at any phone shop as well as at yhe airport
- All of Sihanoukville's banks (with atms) are along Ekareach Street.
- Machines can also be found around Serendipity beach and Victory Hill— not all areas may have atms so try to plan ahead whenever possible.
Cambodian riels and U.S. dollars are used interchangeably, with riel usually used only for small transactions.
most atms charge a fee of around $5 per withdrawal, and are compatible with Cirrus, Plus, Maestro and Visa cards
some atms may only dispense U.S. dollars and no riels at all.
If you receive banknotes in poor condition, exchange them for others as soon as possible as many businesses will not accept these banknotes.
- Amok trei: fish coated in thick coconut milk and a heavily-spiced curry paste, which is then steamed or baked in banana leaves.
- Moek chhar mrech kchey: juicy, tender squid paired with mildly sweet and lightly flavoursome Cambodian kampot peppers.
- Bok phong: green papaya salad, which combines five taste profiles – sour, hot, salty, savory, sweet –
There is no tipping culture in Cambodia
Taxis: If a taxi driver went out of his way to help you, then feel free to leave a few U.S. dollars on top of the fare. It may also be kind to simply let the driver keep the change after rounding up the fare to the nearest dollar.
Restaurants: 10% on top of the bill is already a good tip
Hotels: Try to give the bellman about $1 per bag that he helps you carry to your room, and leave a dollar, daily, as well for the maid who helps clean up your room.
Suggested vaccinations: Hepatitis A and Typhoid
Avoid untreated water or ice made from it, as well as any fruits or vegetables that might have been washed in it.
Cambodia’s health system is still developing, as such if you encounter serious medical situations it may be a better option to be treated in Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, or Singapore.
- Emergency Line: 117
- Sihanoukville Referral Hospital (public): Address: Ekareach Street, Sihanoukville, Tel: (+855) 16 712646
- The CT Clinic (private): Address: Borei-Kamakor Road (right outside downtown), Sihanoukville; Tel (+855) 34 936666
- Tourist police: (+855) 11 683307 / 68 640416; 24-hour hotline: (+855) 97 7780008.
Hello (in general): Soos-da-ee
Excuse me. / Sorry: Sohmd-toh
Thank you: Aw kohn
You’re welcome: Moon ay-teh
Good morning/ Good evening: Ah-roon soos da-ee/ ដី Sah-yan soos da-ee
Goodbye: Leah sihn hao-wy
How much is this?: Tlay bon-mah-n?
Cheers! (Toasts when drinking): Jul mwoy!
Bon appetit!: Ahnjoe-in pisah ao-y bahn ch'nga-in
Where’s the toilet?: Boung-kohn nuh-ee ai naa?
Help!: Chewy kh'nyohm pawng!
I understand: You-l dta-ee
I don’t understand: Mihn you-l dta-ee
How to get into this area, and how to get around it!
The compact Sihanoukville International Airport serves the area, and is right next to Ream National Park, about 17km from the city centre. There are two daily direct flights—one coming from Phnom Penh and the other from Siem Reap. When getting to the city from the airport, expect to pay about $20 for a taxi, $5 a bike taxi and $10 for a tuk-tuk.
There are a number of bus services going to and from Sihanoukville, with the most recommended being the bus lines coming from Phnom Penh, near Central Market via National Route 4 (one of the best roads in Cambodia). If you choose to take a bus from Siem Reap, be forewarned that you're in for a bumpy ride.
Tuk-tuks are quite easily found around the city, however note that in Sihanoukville the drivers are more persistent and hard to bargain with than most other places in Cambodia. It may be worth it to call for a pick up instead of hailing one randomly.
Motodop (bike taxi) This is the easiest way to get around the city and its wide roads. It's cheap too—a fare of $1 is standard for most trips around the area.
Things to see
The top locations to visit in this destination.