Sihanoukville

WELCOME TO SIHANOUKVILLE


Sihanoukville (Khmer: ក្រុងព្រះសីហនុ, Krong Preah Sihanouk), also known as Kampong Som (Khmer: កំពង់សោម), is a coastal city in Cambodia and the capital of Sihanoukville Province, at the tip of an elevated peninsula in the country’s south-west on 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 navigable 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 near the city, where in recent years moderate development has helped to attract a sizable portion of Asia’s individual travelers, students, and backpackers.

The city, which was named in honor of former king Norodom Sihanouk, had a population of around 89,800 people and approximately 66,700 in its urban center in 2008. Sihanoukville city encompasses the greater part of six communes (Sangkat) of Preah Sihanoukville Province. A relatively young city, it has evolved in parallel with the construction of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, which commenced in June 1955, as the country’s gateway to direct and unrestricted international sea trade. The only deepwater port in Cambodia includes an oil terminal and a transport logistics facility. As a consequence, the city grew to become a leading national center of trade, commerce, transport, and process manufacturing.

Sihanoukville’s many beaches and nearby islands make it Cambodia’s premier seaside resort with steadily rising numbers of national visitors and international tourists since the late-20th century.

As a result of its economic diversity, the region’s natural environment, and the recreational potential, an increasing number of seasonal and permanent foreign residents make Sihanoukville one of the most culturally varied and dynamic population centers in Cambodia. As of 2014 tourism remains insignificant in comparison with neighboring Thailand. Sihanoukville’s future will largely be defined by the authorities’ ability to successfully manage natural resources on the one hand and the necessities of urban and insular development, increasing visitor numbers, expanding infrastructure, the industrial sector, and population growth, on the other.

Despite being the country’s premier seaside destination, after decades of war and upheaval the town and its infrastructure remain very much disjointed and architecturally unimpressive. Infrastructure problems persist, in particular related to water and power supply, while international standard health facilities remain limited.

Sihanoukville also faces challenges related to crime, security, and safety with the city frequently being the focus of scandals linked to serious organized crime, petty crime, and corruption.

In recent years, Sihanoukville has seen unprecedented levels of Chinese investment in the city with numerous casinos have opened up throughout the city. Demographically, the city’s ethnic make up has changed with thousands of mainland Chinese workers, developers, and investors settling in the city much to the dismay of locals. As of 2019, nearly 80,000 Chinese live in Sihanoukville, accounting for 90% of the city’s ex-pat population. Mandarin signage is increasingly replacing Khmer and English signage in the city and crime in the form of drunken violence and organized crime is increasing. Sihanoukville is one of the major cities on China’s One Belt One Road Initiative.

Boat at Sihanoukville

General Information

Sihanoukville province is a small southern province of Cambodia. The capital sits on a peninsula with beaches and tropical islands around. Sihanoukville (also known as Kampong Som or Kampong Saom) was founded in 1964 to be the only deep-water port in whole Cambodia. It is gradually being redeveloped as a tourist attraction, but despite the promise of massive Malaysian investment – a casino is planned for Naga Island – tourist numbers are still fairly low. Also its nice with sand beaches and several paradise islands have made it popular as a tourist destination.

In honor, to the king, who fought for the independence of Cambodia the provincial capital was called Sihanoukville. Located in the southwest corner of Cambodia, 232km from Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville can be reached via National Highway No 4. White-sand beaches that include Ohchheuteal, Sokha, Pram Pi Chan, and Deum Chrey beautify this coastal city. These beaches are known for their quiet, cozy atmosphere and the large stretches of white sand and clear waters and these make them popular spots for families on vacation. These seaside paradises with the refreshing coolness of the freshwater streams can be enjoyed all year round.

Business opportunities in Sihanoukville are varied from financial activities to tourist and travel-related industries in conjunction with the government’s objective of making Sihanoukville a major tourist destination besides its status as an International Offshore Financial Centre. The government welcomes both foreign as well as local investors to participate on a joint-venture basis.

This famous see side resort is formed by wide and huge streets and quite new big concrete buildings, which lost any impression of the former architectonical colonial style. As the town is not a small place due to its widespread urban areas, the best way to get around is to hire a motorbike. Besides the nice beaches and some very nice vantage points, there isn’t that much to see in the town itself.

To catch a nice view of the city you best climb the small hill to Wat Leu. Wat Krom is another place of interest as this is a recently build pagoda because the older one was destroyed by the Khmer Rouge and it houses a sanctuary called Yeah Mao, the guardian of the cost. Nearby to the town, there are nice places for a detour such as the Ream National Park and the beautiful Kbal Chhay Waterfall.

Geography

Sihanoukville province is a very small province with 868 square kilometres surface. It’s located in the very South of the country and is bordering to the North with Koh Kong, to the East with Kampot and to the West and South with the beautiful Gulf of Thailand.

Most parts of the province belong to the peninsula showing a hilly face with some scattered forested areas. Most parts of the province consist of the typical plain wet area for Cambodia, covering rice fields and other agricultural plantations. The northeast of the province end on the hill foods of the Bokor National Park, a relatively big mountain range, which in the end symbolize the southern end of the mighty Cardamom Mountains. The average altitude of the province is supposedly not higher than 40m above sea level.

Population

The current population in this province is about 235,190 people or 1.6% of the country’s total population (14,363,519 people in Cambodia, 2007, provincial government data), with 117,250 male and 117,940 female. The population density is therefore 271 people per square kilometer.

Climate

The country has a tropical climate – warm and humid. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. This year-round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for developing tourism. Travelers need not fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.

Climate: Cambodia can be visited throughout the year. However, those plans to travel extensively by road should be avoided in the last two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable. The average temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius; the minimum temperature is about 16 degrees. December and January are the coolest months, whereas the hottest is April.

General information about the provincial climate:- Cool season: November- March (20-28c)
– Hot season: March-May (26c -35c)
– Rainy season: May – October (24-34c, with humidity up to 90%.) The best beach weather begins with the end of the rains in November. The dry, warm, breezy weather that follows lasts through January. Night temperatures can get down to a chilly 20? but the days hover around 28?-30?. Many think December and January are best with their balmy temperatures and blue skies.

At the end of January, Sihanoukville begins to warm and continues to get hotter through July (maximum 35?). After February, cool ‘mango showers’ occasionally blow in from the north. December through June is said by some local outfitters to be the best scuba weather with clearer (though cooler) waters than the rest of the year.

Economy

Because of the importance of exports to Cambodia’s economy, Sihanoukville and its port are earmarked for further significant development by the local government and through international monetary support.

Sihanoukville is for sure largely tourism-based but additional financial and industrial initiatives are also underway. One major government objective is to make Sihanoukville a premier tourist destination as well as an International Offshore Financial Centre. Foreign and local investors are invited to participate in a range of joint business and financial ventures. The agricultural sector of Sihanoukville plays definitely not a big role in the provincial economy, as the rocky peninsula isn’t the place for cropping and such things.

Map of Sihanoukville