Built around a deepwater port, Sihanoukville is a large industrial city that has succumbed to the dubious allure of cheap travel — backpackers, casinos and budget hotels abound. However, it’s a convenient doorway to the nearby islands of the Koh Rong Archipelago.
This string of islands, stretched out across the mouth of the Bay of Kompong Som, is named after the largest island in the chain. Even in an area known for its beaches, Koh Rong stands out. The silky, sugar-fine beaches stretch for miles and feathery palm fronds cast dappled shade on the sand, which slopes gently down into brilliantly blue waters.
There are a number of beach options. Some are mainstream destinations geared around the nightlife, such as the raucous Koh Touch, near the ferry terminal. On others, like Long Set Beach, you’ll find deserted stretches where all you can hear is the restful sound of the ocean, punctuated by the song of a few crickets.
Located a short ferry ride from Sihanoukville, Koh Rong also offers options beyond the beach. The waters support schools of iridescent fish, bright corals, delicate seahorses and cartoonish nudibranchs, which you can admire on a snorkel or dive. Equipment rentals are available on the island. Many snorkeling trips also include an after-dark boat trip to see the glowing plankton that limns the waves with an eerie luminescence. You can visit nearby islands by longboat, trying your hand at the local fishing techniques.
Hotels here range from inexpensive to indulgent. We suggest the Royal Sands, which offers beachside private bungalows and a spa, as well as an infinity pool.
Just off the northeast coast of Koh Rong, Song Saa is a pair of tiny private islands linked by a footbridge. The name is Khmer for ‘the sweethearts’. On the southerly island, you’ll find sybaritic bungalows decorated with driftwood furniture and upcycled wood, some on stilts over clear turquoise waters.
Just a brief walk away, across a curved wooden bridge, is a nature reserve. Here, you can spot kingfishers, sea eagles and Malaysian plovers with a trained member of the hotel’s conservation team.
Best time to visit Sihanoukville
We suggest visiting Sihanoukville between November and April, when the skies are blue and the humidity is low. Temperatures begin at a comfortable 25 C (77 F) and rise steadily until they reach a sizzling 33 C (91 F) by April.
Suggested itineraries featuring Sihanoukville
Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Sihanoukville, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.
Map of Sihanoukville
Places & hotels on the map
Places near Sihanoukville
- Kampot 47 miles away
- Kep 57 miles away
- Koh Kong 78 miles away
- Phnom Penh 117 miles away
- Battambang 173 miles away
- Siem Reap 191 miles away
- Temples of Angkor 195 miles away
- Kratie & Chhlong 215 miles away
- Banteay Chhmar 240 miles away
- Preah Vihear 273 miles away
- Sen Monorom 280 miles away
- Mondulkiri 284 miles away
Accommodation choices for Sihanoukville
We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Sihanoukville. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.
Ideas for experiencing Sihanoukville
Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Sihanoukville, and which use the best local guides.