Sihanoukville in Southern Cambodia is steadily gaining international recognition as a prime beach destination Southeast Asia. Located between progressive Thailand and developing Vietnam, Cambodia is on the verge of finally establishing itself as a major country in this part of the world, and Sihanoukville is contributing to this cause quite well. According to no less than the New York Times, Sihanoukville is “Asia’s next trendsetting beach” destination. But this laid-back tourist town is not just about its beaches. One other equally compelling attraction is the magnificent Kbal Chhay Waterfalls.
Found on the Prek Tuk Sap River about 30 minutes away from the city, Kbal Chhay Waterfalls is a collection of many waterfalls but only three can been seen in full view. The falls, each measuring three to five meters high, come from different specific sources along the nearby mountain ranges. The waters make picturesque white froth as they cascade to the cool pools below. The surrounding areas are teeming with lush greenery and restful picnic spots. The ambience around the waterfalls is truly an amazing oneness with Nature. Today, food and drink stalls line the area to refresh the visitors so that they may linger longer if they wished. The falls are so inviting that no one really wants to go home without spending hours and hours near the falls.
Sadly, the beauty of Kbal Chhay Waterfalls only comes out during the wet season, specifically from July to October. Generally, the best months to visit Sihanoukville are December and January, but around these months the falls have begun to thin away. During the dry season, the waterfalls turn into insignificant trickles and become basically non-existent. The dry months are from November to May. Visitors should avoid these months, unless they wish to just see the place for its greens and mountain ranges.
Sihanoukville is one of the provincial cities in Cambodia that are closest to the equator. The entire city experiences hot and humid tropical weather all year round, with average temperatures from 30 to 35 degrees Celsius and occasionally dipping below 20 degrees in winter. It is never really cold here, though. Meanwhile, the wet season could turn very wet and often with tropical cyclones and typhoons. The rains begin in June.
Other than its beautiful and one-of-a-kind beaches and waterfalls, people also come to Sihanoukville for its relaxed atmosphere, as well as its promised peace and tranquility. The beaches are unlike other top beaches in Asia, which are often too crowded with local and foreign tourists, as well as persistent hawkers and vendors. When vacationing in any of the Sihanoukville beaches, tourists get the feeling that they have the beach to themselves, even the relatively crowded Ochheuteal Beach. Farther away from the beaches is Bamboo Island, an almost deserted island that offers amazing scuba and snorkeling sites.
To reach Kbal Chhay Waterfalls, from downtown Sihanoukville, travelers may take Route 4 north and then turn upon reaching mile marker 217. The 30-minute trip to the waterfalls is itself very scenic and cultural. The waterfalls and its amazingly rich backdrop are truly a must-see when in Cambodia.