Cambodia is a Southeast Asian nation with an inspiring and depressing history. Cambodia’s temples and monuments in Siem Reap, from the mighty Khmer empire, has drawn tourists, archaeologists and escapists for so many years. Most people don’t know that Cambodia also has empty, white sand beaches, which can rival those of Thailand. Planning a trip to Cambodia and looking for destinations to add to your travel itinerary? You can consider Sihanoukville. This 3-day suggested itinerary will lead you to Sihanoukville’s beach destinations and will help you make the most of your trip. Depending on your traveling priorities, you can certainly fine tune this itinerary to suit your needs.
Things to consider before traveling to Cambodia:
Language – The official language of Cambodia is Khmer (Cambodian), which is spoken by majority of the population. Most Khmer people speak a decent level of English, so you can absolutely get by without speaking Khmer language. However, not all people in Cambodia can speak English so learning a few basic Khmer words and phrases is recommended. Just like in other countries, speaking at least some Khmer phrases or attempting to learn is greatly appreciated by the locals.
Currency exchange – The official currency used in Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel (KHR). ATMs can be found in airport, most tourist centers and local banks across the country. Exchanging money in Sihanoukville is easy and follows the same standard to elsewhere in Southeast Asia. International credit cards are widely accepted, though small businesses, especially stores and restaurants may not accept them.
Where to stay – Thailand has a wide range of accommodation options, with something for every level of comfort and budget. In Sihanoukville, there are plenty of beach hotels, beach bungalows and villas, backpacker hostels and guesthouses. If you want an actual get-away-from-it-all, totally unplugged holiday, then you can stay at one of the basic bungalows in the islands located within minutes from the mainland Sihanoukville.
Hotel to consider in Sihanoukville:
The Secret Garden at Otres Beach
Getting around – Getting around Sihanoukville is very easy. Transportation options include boats, small minivans (tuk-tuks), taxis, motorbike sidecar taxis (Săhm·lór), rental cars and motorbike. Although renting a motorbike is one of the most popular ways to get around, we do not recommend it to non-experienced drivers. Foreigners are also often the targets of police asking for small bribes.
Safety and security – There is currently no nationwide security advisory in effect for Cambodia. Check your country’s travel advisory website to get the most up-to-date information for your personal safety abroad. Every traveler, especially solo female travelers, should take safety precautions because there has been an increase in reported armed robberies, sexual assault and other opportunistic crimes targeting tourists. Driving on your own is not recommended because some roads are poorly maintained and locals have little regard for traffic regulations.
Day by Day Itinerary: Beach holiday in Sihanoukville, Cambodia
On your first day, take in a few of Sihanoukville’s most famous attractions and get an introduction to its rich history. Getting to Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh is easy. By regular buses, the average travel time is approximately 4 hours. Depending on your time of arrival, you can either take it easy and soak up the atmosphere in Sihanoukville or you can begin your tour of its beaches, restaurants and shops. You may also arrange your tours for the next two days.
Discover the beauty and diversity of the underwater world or just get away from it all at the three islands of Koh Chaloh, Koh Tres and Koh Takiev, just a short boat ride away from mainland Sihanoukville. These islands provide great swimming, snorkeling and beach experience plus greater privacy. The island has all the necessary facilities like comfort room, eating and dining facilities which will surely give you a fantastic beach holiday. There are also a few water activities in these islands but you are free to do nothing. You can just lie in a hammock and read a good book. You may also scratch off 3 island tour from your itinerary and just head to Koh Rong, one of the best islands of Sihanoukville located on the Southern Coast of Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand.
Savor your last morning in paradise with a relaxed breakfast in your room or at a nearby restaurant. Spend the rest of the morning at the 1.5 kilometer long Sokha Beach, located between Serendipity (Ochheuteal) and Independence beaches. There is only one resort in this part (and only a small portion of the beach is open to public), which is the exclusive Sokha Beach Resort, so you are expected to buy a day pass to get access to it. You may also join a day tour to the Ream National Park, a protected area located just 18 kilometers east of Sihanoukville. This is a great opportunity to appreciate the natural eco-system of Cambodia and see wild animals and endangered birds. Aside from sightseeing and trekking, the tour will allow you to hop on a motorboat that will take you through the coastal mangroves.
Sihanoukville is a great add-on to any trip to the famous ruins in Siem Reap. See some ruins, have some cocktails on the beach… what else could we wish for.
Have you been to Cambodia? Do you have any tips or suggestions to share? If so, you can leave your comments below.
Featured image: Colorful plastic boat on a sandy beach. Sihanoukville, Cambodia (Yulia_B / Shutterstock.com)