When one hears “Cambodia,” the image that automatically comes to mind is the wonders of Angkor Wat — the ancient archaeological complex filled with temples and stone edifices that fill the heart with awe.
Sihanoukville, or Snooky as it is known to foreigners, however, is far from being prehistoric. A mere fifty years old, the town is located south of Cambodia. It is known as Kompong Som or Krong Preah Sihanouk to locals, and dubbed by New York Times as “Asia’s next trendsetting beach.” The French and Cambodians constructed Sihanoukville in the early 1960s as a seaport town, and despite its rough times during Pol Pot’s regime, it has grown through the years as the place to be in Cambodia.
Fun Time at Sihanoukville
The term som in Kompong Som means “agreeable,” and also “fun” or “having a good time.” Sihanoukville seems to meet this promise with its variety of entertainment for the intrepid traveler. Its primary attraction is its beaches and water sports, bordered as it is on three sides by tropical beaches and islands.
Scuba diving, snorkeling, sunbathing, boating, and island hopping are typical (and recommended!) things to do in Snooky. Depending on one’s mood, or budget, or whatever one considers in choosing a place to go to, one can choose from among a number of beach resorts in Sihanoukville.
After an exhausting day soaking the sun at the beach, however, Sihanoukville has more to offer, depending on the visitor’s taste. There are bars and discos that are open until the early hours of the morning, as well as karaoke joints and other places one would not take one’s children or parents to.
For a “cleaner” and less rowdy pastime, touring around town or having a food trip would be a good idea. Food can be found everywhere in Sihanoukville, and depending on the traveler’s palate, one can have the familiar Western food, or “exotic” dishes like grilled dog or fried spiders that one should eat at their own risk. For those with sensitive stomachs, it is best to avoid streetfood and tap water. Bottled water should be the norm, unless one likes to risk getting diarrhea, or worse.
Other Things to Do in Sihanoukville
Aside from its water sports and its nightlife, there are other alternative activities should one decide to stay longer in Sihanoukville. There are motorcycles and bicycles for rent, which one can use to go around the town. Having a Khmer massage is also a good idea, as well as shopping, learning to cook Khmer food, and for the big-hearted, volunteering to help the poor children at the non-profit organization Cambodian Children’s Painting Project.
Whatever one decides to do, always remember to consider the best times to go to Sihanoukville, as well as the visa requirements in going there! It is rainy season from May to early November, so even though it does not rain everyday, too much water may dampen one’s spirit.
Unless, of course, one enjoys the simpler things in life, like sitting inside a nice hotel in the middle of Cambodia’s beach town, drinking beer, and listening to the rhythm of the falling rain. Such is life indeed.