Sihanoukville has no great reputation as a beach destination - particularly with European tourists and travellers.

Sokha Beach Sihanoukville
Hanging out on Sokha beach in Sihanoukville.

But I find that already this pictures shows that Sihanoukville absolutely has its nice corners and is the perfect gateway to various great locations.

Most of the beaches along the shoreline between Independence Beach and Otres Beach are overrun and quite dirty. Otres Beach is the most popular one with individual travellers, but even here it's quite packed and the village itself dirty.

The nicest beach is Sokha beach, for the simple reason that it's located along the posh and expensive Sokha Beach Resort so that they maintain the entire strip and not only the part right in front of their spot. It's possible to buy a day pass for the resort that's said to cost 20 $ which enables you to use their facilities such as the beach chairs, the pool etc. I don't think it's worth it since you can hang out on the quite empty beach right next to their resort, take a dip in the clean Ocean, get a drink and a snack either at an a little higher price at the resort's beach bar or street-food from the hawkers at the other end of the beach.

Sokha beach street hawker
Many stands with a vast variety of street food right next to Sokha beach.

Would I spend a two weeks vacation there? No.
Did I spend various wonderful stopovers there? Definitely yes!

I spend one night there before going to the islands, one beach day and a night before going on a three day tour eastwards to Kep and Kampot, and one night and a beach day before taking the night bus to Siem Reap and I had a very pleasant, relaxing time.

Handy tip: If Sihanoukville is also your gateway e. g. to the above mentioned destinations and your planning on coming back in a couple of days, you can ask your landlord to keep your big luggage and you take only a small bag or backpack with you. My recent post on hand luggage might be helpful with your packing.

Sihanoukville is one of these standard, spoiled beach destinations that used to be nice little fishing villages and are now overrun by tourism: along the main streets rows of bars, shops, pharmacies, tour operators, restaurants and so on. Since large groups of Chinese tourists are coming to town to gamble, there are dozens of monstrous hotels with adjacent casinos and gamble halls. So not my cup of tea!

I stayed in a nice middle sized hotel called Nature Life, located in a side alley far enough from the hustle and bustle of the loud tourist places, but still close enough if you want to let your hair down.
It's actually on a very bumpy dust road with close to no illumination at night so make sure to always have a torch on you because you don't want to stumble - or step in all that you could step in even on this short stretch; Cambodia is really very dirty.

Nature Life Sihanoukville
The lovely, fun staff of Nature Life...

Nature Life is run by a French expat and promoted as gay friendly. But you don't have to be part of the LGBT-community to be treated by the staff like an old, good friend.
The rooms at Nature Life have a good, European style bathroom, air-con, in room safe, coffee name it. They also have a really nice pool which I didn't use since I wanted to make use of  being close to the beach - Sokha beach is a ten minutes walk away.
The only weak point is the breakfast that is not included and either a bit pricey or quite sparse - very French, though.

But staying at Nature Life, you won't be starving since the best restaurant in town is just two bumpy dust roads away: Sandan, a joint where future chefs, waitresses and waiters and maitres d' are being trained.

Sandan Restaurant
....and the lovely, talented staff of Sandan Restaurant.

They all seem to be very talented since the service is impeccable, the food exquisite and the drinks fine. Every visit is a treat!

Sandan Restaurant Salad
A real treat: Seafood salad with lotus root, banana flower, local herbs and chili lime dressing - yes, it was at least as good as it looks!

Sandan Restaurant
Phone: + 855 - 34 - 452 40 00

Another nice place combining Italian, Asian and Fusion cuisine in a nice setting indoors or on their terrace facing the busy road to Serendipity Beach and the jetty is

Invito Guesthouse and Restaurant
Phone: + 855 - 16 37 70 40 St 502

On the same road is the rather low key guest house and restaurant called Mick & Craig's. They serve nice, homemade fast food and offer a great variety of breakfast options.

Mick & Craig's
Phone: + 855 - 34 - 93 48 45

A couple of doors down from Sandan are two small supermarkets where you can stock up on soft drinks and water if you want to save a little money instead of taking drinks from your mini bar.
And a couple of doors up is the office and stop of Giant Ibis bus company, Cambodia's most reliable bus operator, unfortunately serving only the most popular routes.

on the Giant Ibis bus
Bunk bed on the Giant Ibis bus from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap.
I'd recommend the upper bed since the lower level is really extremely low - you are practically on the floor.

Note: The reason that I'm not giving you exact addresses is that there aren't any - sorry for that.

So to round this post up: Depending on what you need and what you expect and how you use Sihanoukville's advantages, this place is not as bad as most people put it. Just don't expect a paradisaic holiday destination, but a comfortable hub with an adjacent beach.

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