Sihanoukville is a tiny Cambodian city on the country’s southern coast. As early as the 1960’s, Sihanoukville gained popularity for its sandy white beaches and lush greenery, but everything in Cambodia stopped when the Khmer Rouge took control from 1975 to 1979. Today, after 30 years, the city is once again slowly regaining popularity in international tourism. More and more Western vacationers are arriving each year and one of their concerns is to know what to wear in Sihanoukville, since everything here is quite different from their home countries.
Quite simply, since Sihanoukville is a warm tropical coastal city just a few degrees north of the equator, wear light and comfortable shirts and pants whenever possible. Locals expect to see foreigners dressed down in sleeveless shirts and shorts, while some men may go shirtless and women in short shorts at high noon. The city is known for its tourism and visitors come here primarily to hit the beach, relax, have fun and enjoy cheap shopping. In the first place, the city’s top attractions are its white-sand beaches, a laid-back atmosphere, and cheap shops everywhere.
When in Sihanoukville, it doesn’t make sense if you won’t visit one of its world-class beaches, so make sure to pack your bathing suit, swimwear, sunglasses, and sun-block lotion.
About the beaches of Sihanoukville
The most popular and often busiest beaches are Ochheuteal and Serendipity Beaches. Although it is packed with foreign and local tourists, especially on weekends, they are still relatively uncongested compared to the leading beaches in Thailand and elsewhere in Asia. Near the beach are major hotels, cheap resorts, guesthouses, bars and restaurants, while on the white sandy beaches are lines of thatch-roofed bars, umbrellas and chairs, food stalls, and plenty of spaces for all-night parties. Waters sports are also a big draw here. Tourists come to parasail, jet ski, go boating and more. Since this is primarily a beach city for tourists, the locals are more modern and accepting of Western ways. Foreigners need not worry about offending local traditions and mores. In general, however, Asian women don’t wear bikinis in their beaches, but whoever plans to wear a bikini in either of these two beaches won’t be frowned at.
Another popular beach but not as often visited is Victory Beach, located at the other side of town at the foot of Victory Hill. (There are upscale hotels on top of Victory Hill.) The southern area is known as Hawaii Beach, for some reason no one knows exactly. While Ochheuteal and Serendipity Beaches are all about fun and party, Victory Beach offers tranquility and peace with nature. This is a perfect spot for honeymooners and travelers who wish to spend time alone. Facilities at Victory Beach include cheap guesthouses, sports centers, food places, umbrellas and chairs, and a nightclub. A bottle of ice cold beer is only US$0.50. Another beach is Otres Beach, which is similar to Ochheuteal but not as popular. There are not many tourists here, and the few who do check it out enjoy a wide stretch of fine sand all to themselves.
This should all give you a sense of the local flavor. Just bring your most comfortable and lightest clothing on your trip. In the end, what to wear in Sihanoukville is whatever makes tourists feel comfortable in warm weather while relaxing by the city’s beautiful beaches.