Sihanoukville is widely known as the jumping off point for serene islands such as Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samleom, and Koh Dek Koul. But not so fast- “Snooky” has a lot to offer on its own. Located on the southern coast of Cambodia, about a 5-hour drive from the capitol city of Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville is becoming a must-visit tourist hub in this South East Asian country.
What used to be a quiet beach town is slowly developing into party central with all the amenities! Backpackers love Sihanoukville for the amazing selection of international food, low priced accommodation, sandy beaches, and consistently wild nightlife.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Sihanoukville:
1. Serendipity Beach
Serendipity Beach is the main beach in Sihanoukville- you can’t miss it. Nestled right next to the pier, you’ll find a boardwalk lined with beachfront restaurants and shady umbrella stands to match. Each restaurant has seating inside with views of the ocean and beach chairs where you can sip a fruity cocktail while you work on your tan.
At night, the boardwalk comes alive with loud music, flashing lights, and a younger crowd of both travelers and Cambodians who love to party.
Be sure to watch your purse and pockets; those cute little beggar kids are quite skilled with the elusive bag snatch.
2. Independence Beach
Independence Beach is right in front of your face, yet somehow, tourists never notice the opportunity to explore. This charming little inlet is situated to the right of the main pier with clear water and rocky shores that is completely unique to the area.
Follow the dirt path under the massive shady trees to explore this quiet little hideaway. While not very big, this quaint cove is home to some adorable restaurants, small fishing piers, and boulders that are just begging to be climbed on.
Take your lunch to go from a nearby restaurant or grab a beer from the local shop and have a seaside picnic.
3. Otres Beach
From the center of town, hire a tuk tuk to drive you down to Otres Beach. Just on the other side of Serendipity Beach, you’ll find that Otres Beach is much cleaner, quieter, and has a touch more ‘upscale’ options for accommodation. The beach is perfect for making sand castles, the water is cool and refreshing, and the locals are super friendly.
Otres Beach is lined with small restaurants, both local and expat owned, that offer selections of Cambodian and Western food. Hanging swings, beach umbrellas, and over-hanging palm trees- Otres Beach is a great place to spend a couple of days living the good life.
4. Kbal Chhay Waterfall
After a few days in the sand, it’s nice to switch things up! Head out to Kbal Chhay Waterfall and let the fresh water streams cool you down. Rest under the falls for a vigorous back massage and lay down in the revitalizing pools of water as crystal streams rush over your body.
When you’re ready to dry off, there are traditional Khmer bamboo huts to provide some shade. Swing in a sturdy hammock and picnic on the straw mats below you. There will be hawkers selling snacks and beverages as you cross the bamboo bridge to help you stock up.
5. ATV Tours
Fun Buggy’s ATV Tours will take you on a wild ride over muddy red dirt plains and across rocky streams, leaving you absolutely covered in red dirt splatter. Wear your play clothes, as this is not an adventure for the prim and proper.
You’ll be picked up from your hotel and transferred to the ATV location via tuk tuk. The tour guides are super friendly, providing clear instructions, helmets, and beer.
When you’re not mucking it up in the dirt, you’ll follow the lovely tour guides through villages, jungle, and Sihanoukville roads. This excursion is memorable, exhilarating, and totally time well spent!
6. Go Sailing
Sailsihanoukville has mini catamarans for hire. These small white boats with bright green sails line the beach on Otres and are hard to miss. You don’t have to be a sailing expert or be experienced in sailing at all to have a catamaran adventure in Sihanoukville. You can go out on a relaxing ride where you’ll take in gorgeous views of the shore or sign up for sailing lessons where you’ll learn how to navigate the boat. If you are comfortable on the “Cat”, however, you can take it out on your own for a day or even two.
No matter your preference, you’ll be guided by a seasoned sailing professional, Mickey, who explains the sailing how-to in extremely simple terms with utmost safety in mind! Rest assured, you’re in good hands.
7. Eat Everything
The diverse community of international expats has made Sihanoukville the perfect place to stuff your face. Arguably, the best place in all of Cambodia to find Western food, you’ve got plenty of options as you walk around town.
For authentic pizza with hand-tossed crust, head over to Olive and Olive – a Mediterranean restaurant where they do not skimp on fresh toppings; you sushi lovers will be ecstatic to find fat sushi rolls and fresh Nigiri at Shin Sushi Bar; and if it’s Indian that you’re in the mood for, Slum Dog Curry has the best Indian curries in town.
8. Live Entertainment at The Led Zephyr
For years, The Led Zephyr has been the go-to spot for live music and good food. Traveling musicians and comedians breeze through Sihanoukville, stopping to grace the stage with their presence multiple times per week. With a great sound system and pro light set-up, this is the real deal.
As if the live entertainment wasn’t enough, you’ll also find local draft beer on tap, amazing pork ribs, comfy seating, and a billiards table. The Led Zephyr is a great way to spend a low-key night with your crew. Better yet, prices are cheap and portions are huge.
To cure your hangover after a night of great tunes and flowing beer, crawl over on Sundays for a $5 roast and more good times.
9. Queenco Fitness Club and Spa
Often referred to as “the best gym in town”, Queenco Fitness Club and Spa is where you can find all of the cardio machines, weight machines, and free weights that you’ve been missing on your trip.
For fitness junkies, $6 per entry is certainly worth it. You get full use of the gym, showers, sauna, and you’ll also receive 15% off all food on site. But that’s not all, folks. You’ll also get full use of the club’s beachfront pool that makes for the perfect reward after a dedicated session in the gym. And because you’re on vacation, you might as well take advantage of the 30% off spa treatments and massages you get with your $6 entry.
10. Gamble at the Casino
If gambling is your thing, you’ll be delighted to find Kampongsom City Hotel & Casino in Sihanoukville. Right in the center of town, you can’t miss this giant casino with colorful lights and décor that truly stands out. Just head towards the Golden Lion and you’ll certainly see it.
Doubling as a hotel and spa, many true casino lovers opt to stay in one of the modestly priced rooms where the ultimate poker playground is at their fingertips. You’ll find all the usual suspects here: blackjack, Texas hold em’, slot machines, and more.
There is a fantastic restaurant in this casino and plenty of accommodating staff to keep your drinks filled all day.
11. Top Cat Cinema
Got some time to kill before a bus ride or before you can check into your guesthouse? Or maybe you just want to escape the Cambodian heat for a few hours. Top Cat Cinema is a comfortable place to kick your feet up and kill a few hours while having a unique experience.
This small cinema at the top of the hill near Serendipity Beach is more like a movie room than an actual theater with scheduled movie times. Go on in at your leisure and pick a move that you’d like to watch. You and your small group will then be set up in a private room with cozy couches and air con while you watch films by the hour.
Oh, and don’t forget that you can order pizza right to the cinema.
12. Island Hopping
The most popular island destinations off the coast of Sihanoukville are Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samleom: two very different islands but in close proximity to one another.
Via speed ferry, it takes about 45 minutes to get to both. There are a several boat companies running scheduled routes a few times per day. Spend one night on Samleom for a peaceful, low-key evening with amazing sunset views or head to Koh Rong for a night of partying and some of the best beaches in Cambodia.
Of course, if you have time, plan to spend a week or so island hopping between the two. There is snorkeling, scuba diving, and jungle trekking to be had.
13. Phsar Leu Market
Step into the shoes of local Cambodians at this massive flea market in Sihanoukville. Tucked in the center of town is a large plaza filled with nearly 100 vendors selling a variety of goods. You’ll find stalls selling children’s clothing, stalls with bathing suits, stalls for gold watches and jewelry, and of course, stalls with lots of food.
The outside perimeter of the market is bustling with locals who have come to pick up fruit, veg, and bread to feed their whole family- it’s quite a hectic scene to watch. Sample local delicacies like jackfruit or the infamous stinky Durian. Just watch your toes as spikey produce is strewn about.
14. Take a Cooking Class
When in Cambodia, make Amok.
Sign up for the Tastes of Cambodia cooking class in Sihanoukville where you’ll learn to make authentic Khmer dishes such as banana leaf salad, fresh spring rolls, fish amok, chicken red curry, and ginger dumplings. Vegetarians are also welcome. Just request a special menu in advance and Tastes of Cambodia will be happy to oblige.
The class is held in a traditional Cambodian home where you’re taught by smiley and knowledgeable Cambodian chefs who speak clear English and are always cracking jokes. Whatever you can’t finish, you can take home for seconds later.
15. Yoga Retreat and Classes
After you fed your soul with long nights of partying and your body with crazy adventures on the water, considering slowing down for a few days at Vagabond Temple.
This yoga center in Sihanoukville offers different retreats aimed towards different spiritual purposes. Some retreats focus on self-discovery and self-empowerment through ceremonies and life-coaching, while others work on detoxing your body and centering your energy with Reiki sessions and meditation. Check out their website to discover the retreat right for you.
Take note that from May 27, 2017 – October 16, 2017, Vagabond Temple is closed for rainy season.