For many years Sihanoukville had a mixed reputation. Some people loved it, other people hated it. For all the backpackers who loved Otres Beach and later Otres Village, there were always just as many visitors who found the city itself disgusting and seedy. Still, Sihanoukville is the gateway to the islands, and around Serendipity Beach Road there were always reliable places to stay and hang out. That’s why we recommended stopping for a night or two on the way to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem.
Lately, though, the city has been flooded with Chinese casinos and its charm has completely disappeared. All of the old businesses on Serendipity Beach Road and most on Otres are gone. The streets and beaches are filled with garbage and the entire city is a giant, deafeningly loud construction site that is becoming known more for online gambling and Chinese crime syndicates than blue skies and serene beaches.
At the beginning of 2018, somewhat surprisingly, the New York Times voted the Cambodian coast one of its 52 “Places to go in 2018.” Their writer spent a year visiting every place on the list, and by the time she got to the Cambodian coast, at the end of the year, it was so dirty, dusty, and depressing that she couldn’t bear to stay there a full 24 hours. The New York Times made a mistake by recommending the area back then, and Sihanoukville has only gotten worse since.
The city has become a nightmare for travelers and expats alike, and there is no longer any reason to stop there. Therefore we have removed our Sihanoukville guide from Move to Cambodia. However, information about transportation and medical care remain available on the site in case you’re looking to go to the islands or need help.
It’s possible that this is just a phase in the development of Cambodia, and that a shiny new Sihanoukville will emerge from the rubble that you’ll find there now. If so, we’ll be back and so will the Sihanoukville guide. Until then, our advice is to avoid the city entirely.
Sihanoukville city guide
Whether you want to get in or out of Sihanoukville (or just to the airport) the transportation page has you covered.
Ouch! Be sure you’re familiar with the medical and emergency services available in Sihanoukville.
Want to meet other Sihanoukville expats? We tell you where to find them online.
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