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Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s top beach destination and a favorite with those looking for a beachside vibe. It’s also got a bit of a reputation as a party city, for better or worse. Some expats say that the seedy reputation is undeserved, while others seem to delight in it.
Many child-protection NGOs are based in Sihanoukville, but English-teaching jobs in town generally pay less than in Phnom Penh. There are lots of expats in Sihanoukville; most of them seem to be middle-aged men. Many Pattaya refugees migrated here when Thailand began cracking down on expat visas. The city is also popular with Russian expats, who own many of the businesses in the Victory Hill area of town.
The newest of Cambodia’s major cities, Sihanoukville was founded in the 1950s. Now the place is filled with construction sites and new luxury hotels looking to capitalize on the tourism boom. During the high season the town and its beaches teem with young backpackers looking to eat happy pizzas and sleep in each other’s dorm beds. The town’s nightlife is active, if not very sophisticated, but it calms down and can get pretty quiet during the low season.
There’s no decent medical care in town, and a narrower range of shopping, so expats find themselves making frequent trips to Phnom Penh to see a doctor or to stock up on the essentials. For all the downsides, many of the beaches around Sihanoukville are beautiful, and the islands offshore are positively stunning.
This is an excerpt from Move to Cambodia: A guide to living and working in the Kingdom of Wonder. To learn more about 100+ topics that pertain to Cambodia expats, please consider buying the book.