Besides its white sandy beaches, breath-taking waterfalls, and warm hospitality as a major tourist destination in Southeast Asia, Sihanoukville is also known to house the only deep water port in Cambodia. The port of Sihanoukville is the only international and commercial port in all of Cambodia. With a capacity to accommodate a number of huge vessels at one time, the port services container ships, cruise ships and naval ships from Australia, France, India, Japan, Thailand and the United States.
Naval personnel from these countries definitely enjoy their layover at this idyllic coastal city. Most navies do not allow their crew members to drive around town while on a layover, and the same is true in Sihanoukville. The good news is that this is a tiny city and walking around to see the landmarks and beaches is pleasant anytime during the day. For those who do not wish to walk, there are plenty of available rental cars, taxis and tuk-tuks.
Cruise ships also bring in a number of international visitors and tourists. Sihanoukville is now included in most cruise ships traveling to Southeast Asia. The vessels normally arrive early morning, giving guests a chance to see this provincial city’s many tourist attractions and beaches. They are allowed to spend an entire day of sightseeing before they leave in the evening. Some tourists go all the way to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap before catching up with the ship at its next stop, usually in Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City. These cruise ships and the Sihanoukville port are truly a big boost to Cambodia’s tourism.
This provincial city is located on the southern coast of Cambodia, jutting into the Gulf of Thailand. Its location is very strategic since it serves as a practical layover of all cruise ships from and to important Asian destinations such as Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, China and Singapore.
The port was first constructed in 1956 as a tiny jetty, which used to hold only 4 vessels. It became operational in 1960 and in 1966, a new quay was constructed to accommodate three more cargo vessels. At that time, Sihanoukville was making strides into international fame, especially after it hosted Jacqueline Kennedy during her whirlwind 3-day tour to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and other parts of the country. Mrs. Kennedy stayed at Sihanoukville’s then prestigious hotel, Independence Hotel. Sihanoukville beaches were also getting international attention until the Khmer Rouge Army literally destroyed Cambodia – executed almost 2 million people and put to halt all industries and commerce. Sihanoukville port, the beaches, Independence Hotel, and basically everything in Cambodia closed down.
Today, the port is 125-hectares wide, fully operational, and continues to undergo construction and improvements. The recent addition was a 400-meter long container terminal that was completed in 2007. The port of Sihanoukville is officially known in international maritime trade as Sihanoukville Autonomous Port or PAS. Sihanoukville, as well as Cambodia as a whole, is becoming more popular as more and more vacationers and navy personnel from different parts of the world enter the country through this port. PAS is located at Terak Vithei Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN Sangkat No 3, Sihanoukville City. The major beaches are not very far away.