Staying for 4 months in Cambodia gave me an opportunity to explore some part of this ancient kingdom. This made me realized that there are also a number of interesting places to visit here aside from Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. One of them is Sihanoukville or locally known as Kompong Som.
Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s premier beach destination. Kompong Som, is a province located in Southern Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand. Known for its wonderful beaches, most of the major attractions revolve around the beaches of Sihanoukville. It was named after King Norodom Sihanouk, who ruled the kingdom in 1964.
Golden Lion (Famous landmark in Kompong Som)
Being the youngest city in Cambodia, It was initially founded as a port town, but due to picturesque islands, sporting miles of white sand beaches and warm tropical waters, Sihanoukville become a top beach destination both for local and tourist in Cambodia, catering to weekenders from Phnom Penh.
Some facts about Sihanoukville from Wikipedia:
“As the newest Cambodian city, Sihanoukville doesn’t have a long history like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. It was founded in 1960 after independence from France as a port, in order to communicate the city with international trade. The project was overseen by the government of Norodom Sihanouk.
The construction of the port began in 1955 and most of the families of the builders remained near the port, effectively becoming the first inhabitants.
During the Vietnam War, it became an intensive military port first in the service of National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam and after 1970, with the regime of General Lon Nol, at the service of the United States.
With the success of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas in April 1975, the port was the last place to be evacuated by the US army. The SS Mayagüez was captured by militants of the new regime on 12 May. The US claimed that the ship was on international sea lanes, but the Khmer Rouge said that it was on Cambodian territory. It is known as the Mayagüez incident.
After the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, the port of Sihanoukville recovered a great importance in the development of the country. With the opening of markets in 1999, the port became one of the main spots of economical growing of Cambodia.”
For me, the main attractions here are the beach and its relaxed pace of life. Some of the popular beaches of Sihanoukville are Otres Beach, Ochheutal Beach, Serendipity Beach, and Independence Beach.The common scenes along the beaches of Sihanoukville are thatched roofed eateries, umbrellas, bars, bungalows and satellite chairs.
Just like in every beach resort, Sihanoukville choices for dining are vast. Offering a large variety of choice, including fresh seafood like prawns, crab, squid and fish. And now, with the influx of foreign tourist, westernized eateries are also visible around the town offering different cuisine.
Compared to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville is still less known destination in Cambodia as many tourists are unaware of it. Making this young city as one of Cambodia’s best kept secret.