Sleppy and secluded, Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s premier seaside resort city. The little fishing port has become a magnet for tourists who want to kick back and relax along Cambodia’s coastline. The city is a resort destination that still remains under the radar in terms of mass tourism, but big business and development is on its way. The white sand beach is edged by small shacks and bars where you can find people reclining with a drink, while they spend days gazing out to sea. Hotels here are numerous and often very affordable, and although there is often a seedy feeling around the town, with many lingerers and single older men traveling alone, the city is a jumping-off point to Cambodia’s tropical islands.
Kratie is a small city that’s shaped by the bends of the majestic Mekong. Travelers stop off in the town to enjoy its local life and for the chance to spot the Irrawaddy dolphins that live in this part of the river. Sitting in one of the marker side cafes reveals the hard and impoverished lives of many of the locals – children without clothes beg while travelers snap pictures of them. However, the people of Kratie are amazingly welcoming to tourists. Take the fun ferry boat across the Mekong and spend a day pedaling around Koh Trong island to see the small island community that lives in the middle of the river.
Kampot is a city by name but not in nature. The sleepy hedonism of the city seduces travelers who plan to stay for a couple of nights but stay much longer. The quiet streets are ideal for cycling around on a pushbike, past locals who are busy with their daily chores and children who are heading to school. The city has a friendly, family feel and people here are welcoming. Like a hippie enclave, travelers often stop here and stay long term, deciding to set up small businesses. Mingle with other visitors in the cafes and sleep in one of the many great guest houses.
Kep is a seaside city that lures tourists with delicious food, a sandy beach and a national park. The city was created as a seaside resort for French socialites in the early 1900s when they built huge Western-style villas. Many of the villas are now derelict and have have been sucked up by the encroaching jungle making for some fantastic photo opportunities. A variety of tourists come to this family-friendly city for its sleepy sunsets and succulent seafood, as well as the excellent hiking routes in Kep National Park.