Wednesday, 23rd December 2015
Enjoy Cambodia?s coast from Sihanoukville
It may be the incredible culture and stunning sights of the likes of Angkor that attract visitors to Cambodia, but a spell at the beach should also be on everyone’s itinerary. For many, this means heading to Sihanoukville, a city in the southwest located on a peninsula jutting into the Gulf of Thailand.
Think palm-lined beaches, fresh seafood served up daily and easy access to the neighbouring islands and you are getting the right idea. The city is also overlooked by the Way Leu Buddhist temple, adding an additional picturesque quality to the location.
Sihanoukville’s very existence is down to the need for trade as opposed to tourists, as it was created out of the jungle so that goods wouldn’t need to pass through the Mekong Delta in neighbouring Vietnam. This was in the 1950s and was the first deep-water port the country had. To this day, it is the only site of its kind in Cambodia, but has embraced a second function as a destination for tourists. Sihanoukville got its name from Kong Preah Sihanouk, who was head of state at its time of creation.
The best beaches in the area are slightly outside of town, but easily accessible from Sihanoukville. Serendipity Beach is the closest and a mecca for tourists wishing to unwind after a few weeks exploring Cambodia. As you move further from the city, the crowds lessen and a quieter patch of sand awaits those willing to look for it. For a chilled out experience, head to Otres Beach, at enough of a distance to escape the hubbub of the city. Anyone wishing to enjoy a desert island experience can catch a boat to one of the southern islands nearby.
If lounging around on the beach is only appealing for about half a day, see what there is to admire beneath the waves. This can be done through snorkelling or diving trips, with boats heading out to some of the most colourful underwater locations.
The views from the hilltop Buddhist temple are just as impressive as the structure itself. Really make the most of them by trekking or taking a moto to the summit before sunset and watching the area become filled with a gentle glow as the sun dips below the horizon.
Just one of five major temples in the vicinity of Sihanoukville, Wat Leu gets most of its visitors due to its position on the hill. It is surrounded by a forest, giving it a particularly special feel. The first thing to notice upon arrival is the selection of statues coming out of the boundary wall. These include a three-headed white elephant, featuring a Buddha sitting atop each head.
The temple itself has been built in a traditional design and covered in gold, with a thatched roof. On the approach to the staircase, a large statue of the Buddha constructed out of black stones can be seen welcoming visitors to this sacred place.
Related news stories:
Pass an afternoon exploring Vientiane's Buddha Park (26th February 2015)
Tips on photographing Southeast Asia (17th July 2015)