Sihanoukville also known as ‘Kampong Som‘, is a coastal city in Cambodia and the capital city of Sihanoukville Province, located at the tip of an elevated peninsula in the country’s south-west at the Gulf of Thailand. The city is flanked by an almost uninterrupted string of beaches along its entire coastline and coastal marshlands bordering the Ream National Park in the East. The city has one navigatable river, the mangrove lined Ou Trojak Jet running from Otres pagoda to the sea at Otres. A number of thinly inhabited islands – under Sihanoukville’s administration– are in the city’s proximity, where in recent years moderate development has helped to attract a sizable portion of Asia’s individual travelers, young students and back-packers.
Sihanoukville’s beaches are one of the city’s most valuable ecological and economic resource with varying degrees of commercial exploitation. The beaches listed in this section do not include any of the island’s beaches.
- Ochheuteal Beach, is a 3.3 km long strip of white sand beach and although the name translates to “Creek/Estuary of the Tiel tree” it is lined with Casuarina and Tamarisk trees. Grass umbrellas, rental chairs in front of around 30 standardized beach huts serve meals, drinks and entertainment. Well established middle class hotels and high-profile residences flank the beach along its Northern part. The sustainability of Ochheuteal beach was a primary consideration of various stakeholders, which brought about the development of a tourism development and management plan in 2005. The Southern half remains – apart from some hotels at its far end – essentially undeveloped.
- Serendipity Beach: is the northern end (roughly one fifth or 600 m) of Ochheuteal Beach, is very popular with tourists, named by an American called Chuck in around 2001 when he owned a small shack on the beach.
- Otres Beach, named after the local Ou Trojak Jet river (river of my serene happiness) Otres is around 4.6 km long and beyond the small “Queen hill” headland at the southern end of Ochheuteal Beach. Its long white sand strip, also completely lined with Casuarina and Tamarisk trees, is far less developed and commercialized than Ochheuteal Beach and has developed into a preferred lodging place for Western visitors. The beach is divided into 3 main areas Otres 1 two kilometers of hotels and beach shacks, long beach, the undeveloped park area and Otres 2 with shacks and large hotels along the beach and adjoining river. From 2004 to 2011 long beach was occupied by numerous bungalows and dormitories, run by Western people. Due to the element of illegality of on-beach accommodation, among other reasons, police cleaned up the area in May 2011, removing the greater part of the beach-side bungalows. Permanent structures beyond the beach road supplement the remaining places since 2012. It is a very popular, well established holiday retreat – where prices have risen considerably over the course of the last years. In the last year into 2017 there has been some development around the area of the pagoda, north of the new access road to highway 4 and nearer into Otres itself on the main Otres road where a China Town is under construction as of April 2017.
- Sokha Beach: Sokha Beach is around 1.2 km long and located west of Serendipity Beach. The beach is privately owned by – and its southern half occupied by the Sokha Beach Hotel, the first five-star luxury beach hotel in Cambodia. While the beach is well kept and many facilities are provided, visitors have to pay for their use and beach vendors are not allowed.
- Independence Beach: Independence Beach is around 1.3 km (1 mi) long and located north-west of Sokha Beach. The beach is named after the Independence Hotel, another example of New Khmer Architecture, towering on top of a rock at the beaches northern end.
- Victory Beach: Victory beach is around 300 metres long and situated at the furthest north of the peninsula of Sihanoukville. It was heavily used by backpackers and is still popular with budget travelers. The deep water port is located at the northern end of the beach. A consortium of Russian business people undertook large scale development here. The beach is regularly maintained.
- Lamherkay/Hawaii Beach: is the southern succession of Victory Beach, situated north of Independence Beach. It is a strip of similar length as Victory Beach – around 300 m. Here is the very place where the French/Cambodian construction team’s groundwork began for the construction of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in 1955.