Long hailed as a backpackers haven, Sihanoukville has transformed into an entertainment mecca that could soon rival Macau. Shiny new resorts now line the city’s seaside, which is more than a four-hour drive from Phnom Penh. A majority of this construction has taken place during the last five years and caters mostly to Chinese tourists.
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Despite this new element, the charm of Sihanoukville’s beaches retains a charm that harkens back to its sleepy past. Ochheuteal Beach is the busiest stretch of shore in the city, but don’t let this fool you into thinking it is some crowded tourist trap. Spanning nearly three kilometres, it is possible to find quiet spots admist the bars, hotels and other places of interest.
Otres Beach is located south of Ochheuteal Beach and tends to be less noisy and populated than its neighbour. There is some development going on along the two major beaches in this area, but nothing overly distracting.
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Sihanoukville is also the gateway to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, two islands filled with countless beaches. Many tourists opt to skip the city altogether and head to the islands, but you can also hop on a ferry and visit for a couple of hours. Both islands have been built up in recent years and now have a fair amount of facilities.
What to know about Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville is far easier to get to these days than it was a decade ago. Sihanoukville Airport already has direct connections to Vietnam, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China. Cambodia Angkor Air offers the option of a transfer in either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap from several regional hubs.
It is also possible to get from Phonm Penh to Sihanoukville but the roads aren’t the best and the journey takes more than four hours to complete. If you aren’t in a rush, the Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville railway line restarted service in 2016. The journey takes seven hours to complete and the carriages aren’t quite up to the standard of their European counterparts. However, it is still a viable option for those who enjoy a rail journey.
Development in Sihanoukville has been rapid with property prices and rental rates skyrocketing in the past year. There are opportunities here should you be considering real estate investment, but this is firmly a frontier market carrying a fair amount of risks. If that isn’t your thing, it may be better to visit the beaches rather here than scooping up a property.
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