'Beach town', 'port community', 'fledgling resort destination' - all describe Sihanoukville, Cambodia's premier beach town. Sihanoukville's white sand beaches and warm Gulf of Thailand waters combine with a laid back, beachy atmosphere to provide a great little tropical getaway. Sihanoukville is a place to relax by the beach, enjoy the fresh from-the-ocean seafood, take in a snorkeling or scuba trip, and generally slow-down, unwind and chill-out.
Sihanoukville has a different look and feel than most Cambodian towns. Constructed as a port city in the late 1950s, the town is much newer, more urban and cosmopolitan than most Cambodian provincial cities. Nowadays, Sihanoukville is as much a beach town as it is a port town, catering to beach-going weekenders from Phnom Penh as well as a steadily increasing number of foreign visitors. Still, the pace of life in Sihanoukville is quiet and slow. Cows occasionally wander the main road, outside town foreign faces draw smiles and curious stares, and most of the beaches offer only beach umbrellas, thatched roofed eateries, and a few restaurants and hotels.
Still, the area has a more than ample supply of accommodations, including a brand new resort complex on Sokha Beach, several mid-range places downtown and at the beaches, a few 'upscale' three-star hotels, and dozens of budget guesthouses, especially on Weather Station Hill. Considering the moderate number of visitors to Sihanoukville, the town offers a surprising number of restaurants and bars. Fresh seafood, especially crab, prawns and ocean fish, has always been one of the town's biggest draws, but there is also a wide variety of places offering foreign cuisines - Australian, French, Indian, German, Sri Lankan, British, Italian, pizza places, a couple of western bakeries and even a proper espresso coffee shop. And these days Sihanoukville has something of a night life as well, with several bars, several with pool tables, staying open into the wee hours, a couple of small Cambodian-style clubs open past one AM, and two casinos running 24 hours a day.