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About Sihanoukville 

Sihanoukville (Khmer: ក្រុងព្រះសីហនុ - Krong Preah Sihanouk), also known as Kampong Saom, is a province (khaet) of Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand. This port city is a growing Cambodian urban center, located 185 kilometres (115 mi) southwest of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. The province is named after King Father Norodom Sihanouk and grew up around the construction of Sihanoukville Port. Construction on the port began in June 1955 and it was the only deep water port in Cambodia.The port was built in part due to the waning power of the Frenchleading to the Vietnamese tightening their control over the Mekong Delta and hence restricting river access to Cambodia. Sihanoukville's beaches have made it a popular tourist destination.

The province is served by Sihanoukville International Airport, 18 kilometres (11 mi) from downtown, although it has a limited commercial operation. The airport currently has limited passenger flight between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh on Cambodia Angkor Airlines.

Sihanoukville attracts tourists with its relaxed beach atmosphere when compared to Thailand's more developed ones. However, the city has attracted not only tourists, but several NGOs and foreign and national investors in the last years in order to develop not only the growing tourist industry, but its capacity as an international sea port and other sectors like textile and real estate.In Sihanoukville is also located the main factory of Angkor Beer, the Cambodian national beer.

Sihanoukville was the place of the last official battle of the United States army in the Vietnam War, although the incident took place outsideVietnam. It is known as the Mayaguez incident on May 12–15, 1975 between the US forces and the Khmer Rouge. Currently, visitors dive in Koh Tang, one of the Sihanoukville islands where the major battle to free the SS Mayagüez took place. Divers can see two shipwrecks 40 metres (130 ft) down.

On 22 December 2008, King Norodom Sihamoni signed a Royal Decree that changed the municipalities of Kep, Pailin and Sihanoukville into provinces, as well as adjusting several provincial borders.

Origin of the name

The province honors the name of King Norodom Sihanouk. Internationally it is written in French as Sihanouk Ville or Sihanoukville (Literally "The City of Sihanouk" or "Sihanouk City").King Norodom Sihanouk is known in Cambodia as the Father of the Nation, because he was the main promoter of the independence of the country from France in 1953.The name "Sihanouk" is formed from two Pali words: Siha and Hanu. "Siha" means Lion. The word comes from Sanskrit "Simha". Another example is Singapore. "Hanouk" is from "Hanu" that means "Jaws". Therefore, Sihanouk is "The Jaws of the Lion".The former name Kompong Saom means "Agreeable Port" and "saom" is derived from the Sanskrit word "samuya"(समुय‌).

History

As the newest Cambodian city, Sihanoukville doesn't have a long history like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. It was founded in 1960 after independence from France as a port, in order to communicate the city with international trade. The project was overseen by the government ofNorodom Sihanouk.The construction of the port began in 1955 and most of the families of the builders remained near the port, effectively becoming the first inhabitants.During the Vietnam War, it became an intensive military port first in the service of National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam and after 1970, with the regime of General Lon Nol, at the service of the United States.With the success of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas in April 1975, the port was the last place to be evacuated by the US army. The SS Mayagüez was captured by militants of the new regime on 12 May. The US claimed that the ship was on international sea lanes, but the Khmer Rouge said that it was on Cambodian territory. It is known as theMayagüez incident.After the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, the port of Sihanoukville recovered a great importance in the development of the country. With the opening of markets in 1999, the port became one of the main spots of economic growth of Cambodia.

Geography

Sihanoukville is located in the south of Cambodia. It is 230 kilometres (143 mi) southwest of Phnom Penh on a small peninsula.. Beaches are the main feature that attracts national and foreign visitors. A small archipelago is embedded by the Sihanoukville Bahia off its south and west coast. The commercial and international port is located at the north west. The limits of its territory: North and West Koh Kong province, East Kampot province and the southernSea of Cambodia.

Beaches that line the west contour of the city from north to south are Victory Beach, Lamherkay Beach, Koh Pos Beach, Independence Beach, Sokha Beach, Serendipity Beach, Ochheuteal Beach and Otres Beach. The most popular beaches are Ochheuteal, Sokha, Independence and Victory. Tourists can take water taxis to the nearby islands for diving, snorkeling, and game fishing.The peninsula is separated from the central plains of Cambodia by the Damrei Mountains, especially the Bokor. The city is also besides the Ream National Park (210 km2) and it includes the islands of Koh Thmei and Koh Sei.Being a rather small province, Sihanoukville has two main urban centers: the Sihanoukville city itself and the Prey Nob District, 46 kilometers from Sihanoukville downtown to the north. The city is connected to Phnom Penh by National Road No. 4; to Kampot Province by NR 3 and to Koh Kong Province by NR 48.

Town centre

The town centre is located between surrounding hills roughly in the centre of the peninsula. It contains the banks, the market and other businesses. The post office and the bus station are located some distance towards the port.

Beaches

  • Occheuteal Beach and Serendipity Beach: Occheuteal Beach is a long and narrow strip of beach lined with Casuarina trees, grass umbrellas, rental chairs and little drink huts as well as bigger restaurants and night-time party spots. The northern section has become known as Serendipity Beach and is a popular beach with western tourists, noted for small guesthouse rooms right on the beach. Aside from these guest houses on the beach there are around 30 beach huts serving good value meals and a wide selection of drinks. The sustainability of the Occheuteal beach was a primary consideration of various stakeholders, which brought about the development of a tourism development and management plan in 2005.[10]
  • Otres Beach: Beyond a small headland at the south end of Ochheuteal is Otres Beach, which is far less developed and commercial and known for its long stretch of clean white sands.
  • Sokha Beach: Sokha Beach is located just west of Serendipity Beach. This beach is privately owned by Sokha Beach Hotel, the first five-star luxury beach hotel in Cambodia. It provides many facilities with a wide white sandy beach, but hotel guards may prevent visitors who are not guests from going on to the beach.
  • Independence Beach: Independence Beach is located next to Sokha Beach on its west. The beach was named after the old Independence Hotel. This beach offers a good stretch of clean sand. Situated at the northern end of the beach is Independence Hotel and Koh Pos Beach with a tiny island only 800m off the coast. Koh Pos is known for its rock strewn shoreline.
  • Victory Beach: Victory beach is situated at the furthest north of the peninsula of Sihanoukville. It was the original backpacker beach and is still popular with budget travelers. At the northern end of the beach is located the deep sea port. Apart from white sand and blue sea, this beach offers a good spot to enjoy the sunset.

At the south end of Victory Beach is another small strand of sand called Lamherkey Beach. It is the place where a French/ Cambodian construction team laid groundwork for the construction of the new Port of Kampong Som during the 1950s. At this beach, you can hire a boat to nearby islands.

Islands

There are more than a dozen islands off the coast of Sihanoukville for tourists to hop around. Only some of them have been so far developed for overnight stays. Many guesthouses, travel agencies and restaurants on Ochheuteal and Serendipity beaches offer trips and packages to some of these islands.

  • Koh Russei: Also known as the Bamboo Island. This medium sized island is located a few kilometers out from Otres Beach or Ream. There is a small navy base and some beach bungalows.
  • Koh Rong: It is situated west of the Sihanoukville coast. It offers a fantastic strand of beach on its southwest, stretching about 5 kilometres (3 mi). It has fresh water resources on the island and a bustling fishing community on the southeast with basic supplies including fresh water, fish and crab.
  • Koh Rong Samlon: It is a bit smaller than Koh Rong and situated on its south. Beautiful beaches are on the east coast, where a large heart-shaped bay with some shellfish cultivation is located, and on the north shoreline facing Koh Rong. The marine life around Koh Rong Samloem is very diverse and offers some amazing diving.
  • Koh Tang: It is located quite far from the main shoreline of Sihanoukville. Going there requires trippers to stay overnight on board. It offers interesting diving spots most of which are not frequently explored. The island is home to a military outpost and travelers should expect to be boarded by military personnel when out at the island.
  • Koh Pos: Also known as Morakot Island or Snake Island. This island is 800 metres (2,625 ft) off of Victory Beach. It is under development by Russian investors to become a luxury holiday destination.[11] It was linked to the mainland with a bridge in July 2011. The bridge is not currently open for traffic.
  • Koh Dek Koul: This small private island is 7 kilometres (4 mi) off from Victory Beach. The luxurious Russian owned Mirax Resort is located on this island.

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