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Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Sihanoukville, Cambodia, also known by its communist name Kompong Som, is the country's only deep-water port. The town was named for Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia, in 1964. He was deposed in 1970 during a civil war that led to the rise of the notorious Pol Pot and the communist Khmer Rouge. Cambodia emerged into peace in 1993. The country is still in the process of rebuilding, and tourism is an important facet of that reconstruction. The country is rich in history of the Khmer Empire dating from the 9th to the 15th centuries, with the famed Angkor Wat as its capital, and many other temple and architectural sites worth seeing. 



Sihanoukville, nicknamed Snookyville or Snooky, is best known for its beaches and temples. Intra Ngean Pagoda, Sihanoukville's preeminent religious site, is a Buddhist temple that sits above town and looks out over the coast. Otres Beach, a clean stretch of tree-lined beach five miles south of the city, is considered the most unspoiled and relaxed beach in the area. On the edge of town, Ochheuteal Beach and its western end called Serendipity Beach offer shady tamarisk trees and lots of small restaurant shacks offering local fare. Snorkeling and scuba diving are top water activities. There are increasing numbers of casinos, many devoted to the large numbers of Chinese tourists who visit. Psar Leu is the local market but be aware of pickpockets in congested areas. Tours outside of town pass by rice paddies, picturesque French colonial architecture, and temples, including Wat Samathi, with great overlook views.


Local cuisine is commonly considered to be "Thai light" or with less spice than many Thai dishes. Popular options include mild curries, spring rolls, and amok, a fish served with shallots, kaffir lime, and lemongrass. Sihanoukville also is home to the Angkor beer brewery. Popular souvenirs include the krama, rectangular scarves in everyday cotton or dressier silk, and other textiles, as well as the high quality Kampot pepper.