Short History of Sihanoukville
The short rise of Sihanoukville; the birth of a port
Cambodia managed to get a brief glimpse on independence in the 50’s. Under the newly gained impression of peace and self-rule, prior to the coup d’état in 1970, the port of Sihanoukville – named after king Norodom Sihanouk – was built with French money and support, to get some sea-trading autonomy after the loss of the Mekong delta to Vietnam. The dawn of Sihanoukville was somehow romantic, even idealistic: cut and shaped in the jungles during the modernist era, the town boomed for a short happy time into a fancy resort of villas gathered around the Independence Hotel.
The town got the scars of the civil war. Under the Khmer Rouge, Sihanoukville became Kompong Saom, and the town ceased to grow. It was later dragged into the Vietnam War and became the arena of the Mayaguez incident. Sihanoukville licked its wounds until the 90’s when it began to experience a slow, but steady recovery.
Voyages into Private Paradises
The revival of Sihanoukville has to do with the tremendous natural potential of the place. Here are a few examples that can easily light up your imagination about what you can visit and do in this part of the country.
Everyone knows that Santorin (Greece) has three differently colored beaches, but few have witnessed the incredible white of the beaches in Sihanoukville.
- Sokha Beach – A superb combination of turquoise water and silver-white sand.
- Victory – Palms growing out of sand like old vestiges of an unknown nature.
- Lamherkay – Enjoy the sight of sea oaks and corals on this special beach in Sihanoukville.
- Independence Beach – One of the most sought-after beaches in the area due to its splendid integration of vegetation and calm waters.
- Serendipity Beach – This is the perfect example where wild nature goes wilder and… calmer than you’d expect.
- Ochheuteal Beach – Tourists love this beach, full of local boats and traditional umbrellas.
There are many fishing villages in the area. The most beautiful ones don’t show signs of the recent history of Cambodia. They seem unaffected by time.
- Kampong Pier Tumnup Rolok – A splendid fishing village with a particular architecture. A must-see if you happen to be around.
- Steung Hauv – The beauty of it is only matched by the color of the water.
- Tumnuk Rolok – A poor village full of boats and colorful houses.
There are more than 60 islands on the south coast of Cambodia. One-day trips by ferryboat to some of the nearby islands are perfectly safe and can easily be arranged. On the other side, getting on wilder, uninhabited and more remote places in the Sihanoukville archipelago can turn into quite an adventure and may not comply with the expectations of the average tourist who seeks for a sense of balance between the natural beauty of the place and reasonable visitor services.
- Koh Poah – is the closest island to the mainland (less than 1 km). You can find guest accommodations and other decent services.
- Koh Koang Kang – is relatively close to the main shore and it is as wild and untamed as it sounds.
- Koh Khteah – a small island, located south from the town, with a special charm.