Coastal Cambodia combines the French colonial heritage, traditional seaside towns and unspoiled, tropical islands. The beaches here are divine. Exactly as one would imagine; crescents of white-powdered sand, decorated with hammocks and palm tree swings topped up with picturesque fishing villages on stilts and technicolour sunsets.
The relative inaccessibility of much of the southwest (thanks to heavy forest cover), lack of roads and reasonable prices only add to the country`s charms.
The town of Sihanoukville is a gateway to most of the destinations stretching along the Cambodian coastline. This fairly new tourist destination blossoms with hospitality and fabulous white beaches.
The central Serendipity Beach offers plenty of seaside restaurants and bars and its vivid ambience attracts both, locals and foreigners, who come to adore the sunsets while chattering over a glass of the local beer. For more relaxed and calm atmosphere you can visit the next door, well-groomed Sokha Beach, and Independence Beach, or the quiet Otres Beach on the other side.
Further away, Victory Beach and Hawaii Beach are quite vibrant and provide lovely beach taverns, also.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES IN SIHANOUKVILLE
Koh Rong Island is popular with backpackers and budget travellers. Koh Rong Sanloem is much liked by honeymooners and couples – with no roads, no internet and hidden beaches it is a perfect romantic getaway.
KEP & KAMPOT
Heading south of Sihanoukville, you will pass the Elephant Mountains, craggy limestone formations that project starkly from the plains, before arrival in the provincial town of Kampot. The agricultural region of Cambodia features farms and plantations, charming French colonial architecture, and it is mainly known for durian – the most pungent fruit in the world. Have a bite, and love it or hate it!
Further down the coast, you will find another colonial seaside town Kep. Only a few kilometres from the border with Vietnam, visitors can enjoy the unique character of this sleepy fisherman place, famous for seafood, colourful markets, and lazy beaches.
The idyllic Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc is just a stone`s throw away from Kep. Cross the border to get to the town of Ha Tien and catch the ferry to Phu Quoc – another blissful tropical paradise.
ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES AROUND KEP & KAMPOT
BOTUM SAKOR NATIONAL PARK
The Northern coastline of Cambodia, at the Thai border, represents the ultimate “the call of the wild”. This remote area is home to the Botum Sakor National Park is a vast coastal reserve filled with mangroves, elephants, leopards, crocodiles, gibbons and sun bears.
The area is ideal for hikers, bikers, and adventurers. Independent travellers and adventure seekers will find their heaven in one of the least developed parts of Cambodia – Koh Kong. The park is characteristic of the dense rainforest, tropical beaches, and isolated fisherman villages. Although it is still the least men-touched territory in the country illegal logging and poaching have impacted the area whose future is uncertain…
WHEN TO TRAVEL
The best time to visit the islands between November and January when during the dry season, however, a shower or two will not make much difference.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Phnom Penh and take either a local or a shuttle bus to Sihanoukville (4-hour trip).
For all international flights check out www.skyscanner.com or www.momondo.com
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