Just as beautiful, not as crowded!
You would definitely have heard of the Thai beaches of Koh Samui, Phuket, and maybe Pattaya too.
But what about the beaches of Sihanoukville, Kep, and Koh Tonsay?
Contrary to popular belief, Cambodia is not a land-locked country – look at a map!
It has both mainland and island beaches, and given that they’re in the same area as the Thai beaches (in the Gulf of Thailand), it’s not surprising that going to a Cambodia beach easily rivals going to a Thai one for beauty, sun, and fun.
What's a Cambodia beach I shouldn't miss?
Sihanoukville is a
port city about 185km from Phnom
Penh, and most
people agree that it has the best Cambodia beach, with white sand and
blue seas. Good beaches in Sihanoukville are Occheuteal Beach, which
has bars and beach parties, Independence Beach, and Victory Beach,
which is the furthest north and a favorite with backpackers and budget
travelers. Victory Beach is also a nice place to watch the sunset.
Another beach in Cambodia is in Kep, which is located very close to Cambodia’s border with Vietnam. Kep has a grand history, as during French colonial times it was an upmarket resort town for the French and Khmer elite. It still has some reminders of this time in wide sidewalks and seaside statues. The beaches in Kep are scenic, but not as wide as at Sihanoukville and are mostly black rock rather than sand.
Cambodia’s island beaches offer an even more beautiful environment than a mainland beach, but not many of them are developed enough to support tourism yet. One exception is Bamboo Island. Bamboo Island is just 10km off the coast of Sihanoukville, and has warm water and golden sand. It’s a fantastic place to relax. It’s now possible to rent a bungalow for an overnight stay on Bamboo Island, and there’s great seafood available there as well.
Another great Cambodia beach island is Rabbit Island, also known as Koh Tonsay. It’s about 5km from the town of Kep, and it has two amazing white sand beaches with shallow seas, making it great for swimming. Bamboo guest houses provide somewhere to stay.
Cambodia's beach vs. Thailand's beach -- which is better?Clearly Cambodia has some great beaches, both on the mainland and on islands in the Gulf of Thailand. They have beautiful beaches with soft sand, warm water, and plenty of sun. But places like Phuket and Pattaya have these things too. So what does any Cambodian beach have that you can’t find in Thailand?
The answer is that they have peace and quiet and the chance to enjoy a stretch of beautiful white sand beach all by yourself (or nearly so). Thailand’s beach resorts are famous and popular for good reasons, but in some ways they’ve been ‘loved to death’. The beaches are great, but they can be polluted, crowded and noisy as well. The beach areas of Cambodia are different, because they haven’t yet been taken over by crowds of people and lots of development.
You might not be able to find five-star resorts or western fast food at one of Cambodia beaches, but you will be able to find empty stretches of white sand beach with warm turquoise water, open air bars and restaurants serving incredible fresh seafood, and plenty of laid-back good times. Now that sounds good!
So in short…
In short, there’s no reason to plan your trip so that you go to
Cambodia for Angkor Wat, then Thailand for the beaches. There are a few
nice beaches at Cambodia that you don't just rule out Cambodia for its
beaches. Particularly if fighting for a
space on the sand, eating fast food and drinking at Irish chain pubs
isn’t your idea of a good time, then you won’t regret choosing a beach in Cambodia.
Where would you like to go next?
If you have US dollars then you're all set. There's no need for you to change them to Cambodian Riels. Anyone and everyone will accept US dollars there. Well, except in the very remote areas.
It's in Asia so the summers are hot. During the wet seaso, rain could be a problem too. Unless rain is exactly what you're looking for. Why ever for? To get magical pictures of course!
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