Sihanoukville, also known as Kampong Som is a coastal city in Cambodia and the capital of Preah Sihanouk Province, at the tip of an elevated peninsula in the country’s south-west on the Gulf of Thailand.

Sihanoukville (ក្រុងព្រះសីហនុ) would never win first prize in a pretty-town competition, and much of it is now dominated by casinos and tacky commercial centres. But despite the rapid and mostly unwanted development, it has remained the jumping-off point for the best of Cambodia’s white-sand beaches and castaway-cool southern islands. The Serendipity Beach area is a decompression chamber for backpackers, who flock here to rest up between travels and party through the night.

Away from the hustle south of town is relaxed Otres Beach, where cheap bungalow joints and bohemian-flavoured guesthouses are now neighbours with rather swish boutique resorts. Although much of the beachfront will likely be cleared for large-scale development in the future, for now the mellow scene still allows for lazy days of sunbathing and whirlwind nights of bar-hopping.

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