Sihanoukville, also recognized as Kampong Som, is a coastal city in Cambodia and the capital of Sihanoukville Province, at the tip of a raised peninsula in the country’s south-west on the Gulf of Thailand.
Trying to find an address that is off the path is a real task these days for most travelers. One tends to look to varying conditions in a country for the prime new locations. Cambodia is certainly one such stop now.
Cambodia is a riddle wrapped in a novel. The country is located between Thailand and Vietnam in Southeast Asia. It is the home to the powerful Khmer people as implied by the incredible temples at Angkor Wat. In more recent times, it was also the home to the Khmer Rouge, who tried to turn the society back into an agricultural one in the image of the original Khmer.
Fortunately, those days are past. The country has a middling state, one that seems to be stable because it is in a never-ending case of a deadlock. With this has come a more open approach towards foreigners and, precisely, the money they bring into the country. This has resulted in the amazing Angkor Wat area being turned from a backwater highlight for hardcore travelers into something of a must-see in compilations of practically every travel agency around.
Cambodia is much more than Angkor Wat. Whereas the Angkor Wat tourism marketing machine is well polished, the rest of the country is rustic and very tangible. This covers the port town of Sihanoukville.
Sihanoukville, as mentioned above, is inhabited on the Gulf of Thailand in the Southwest corner of the country. It remains popular with backpackers who take a ferry from the border with Thailand to avoid the notorious Cambodian roads. Upon arrival, people take one look at the typical run-down port and try to find a trip to the central city of Phnom Phen. If only they knew that heaven was just up and over the hill.
Sihanoukville lies on a point. On one side you will find a nasty port town that offers nothing even remotely enticing. Get a ride to the other side of the point, however, and the world is your oyster. A town spreads out along the coast with natural beaches, places to eat and clean places to stay. You can spend $10 for a room on the beach.
The exceptional thing about Sihanoukville is you have passage to everything you could want including diving, spearfishing, and so on without the mad rush of most places. Make no mistake, it can be rather simple, but you will feel like you are in a real place instead of some type of substitute tourism destination.
If you are in Southeast Asia and looking for a few days to just kick it on the beach and unwind, Sihanoukville gets a definite thumbs up. It is affordable and appealing.