Sihanoukville (city)

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Krong Preah Sihanouk

Kompong Som
top: urban commercial center center left: road sign in sangkat 4 center right: sculpture at Independence Beach bottom: Koh Rong island
top: urban commercial center
center left: road sign in sangkat 4
center right: sculpture at Independence Beach
bottom: Koh Rong island
Location in  Sihanoukville Province and Mittakpheap District in red
Location in Sihanoukville Province and
Mittakpheap District in red
Sihanoukville is located in Cambodia
Location of Sihanoukville City in Cambodia
Coordinates: 10°38′N 103°30′E / 10.633°N 103.500°E / 10.633; 103.500Coordinates: 10°38′N 103°30′E / 10.633°N 103.500°E / 10.633; 103.500
Country Cambodia
CityCity of Sihanoukville
Founded byKing Norodom Sihanouk
 • TypeConstitutional monarchy
 • GovernorChhit Sokhom (CPP)
 • Total80 km2 (30 sq mi)
urban [1]
15 m (45 ft)
 • TotalIncrease 89,846
 • UrbanIncrease 66,723
 • Urban density834/km2 (2,160/sq mi)
 • DistrictIncrease 89,846
Time zoneUTC+07
Postal code18000
Area code(s)034
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Krong Preah Sihanouk

Kompong Som
top: urban commercial center center left: road sign in sangkat 4 center right: sculpture at Independence Beach bottom: Koh Rong island
top: urban commercial center
center left: road sign in sangkat 4
center right: sculpture at Independence Beach
bottom: Koh Rong island
Location in  Sihanoukville Province and Mittakpheap District in red
Location in Sihanoukville Province and
Mittakpheap District in red
Sihanoukville is located in Cambodia
Location of Sihanoukville City in Cambodia
Coordinates: 10°38′N 103°30′E / 10.633°N 103.500°E / 10.633; 103.500Coordinates: 10°38′N 103°30′E / 10.633°N 103.500°E / 10.633; 103.500
Country Cambodia
CityCity of Sihanoukville
Founded byKing Norodom Sihanouk
 • TypeConstitutional monarchy
 • GovernorChhit Sokhom (CPP)
 • Total80 km2 (30 sq mi)
urban [1]
15 m (45 ft)
 • TotalIncrease 89,846
 • UrbanIncrease 66,723
 • Urban density834/km2 (2,160/sq mi)
 • DistrictIncrease 89,846
Time zoneUTC+07
Postal code18000
Area code(s)034

Sihanoukville (Khmer: ក្រុងព្រះសីហនុ, Krong Preah Sihanouk), also known as 'Kompong Som' (Khmer: កំពង់សោម), is a coastal city in Cambodia and the capital city of Sihanoukville province. It is located on an elevated peninsula in the country's south-west at the Gulf of Thailand. The city is flanked by an almost uninterrupted string of beaches along its entire coastline with the Ream National Park near the town due East. A number of thinly inhabited islands - under Sihanoukville's administration[2] - are in proximity, where in recent years moderate development helped to attract a sizable portion of Asia's individual travelers, young students and back-packers.

The city, which was named in honor of former king Norodom Sihanouk, had a population of around 89.800 people and approximately 66.700 in its urban center in the year 2008.[3] Sihanoukville city encompasses the greater part of four of the five communes (Sangkats) of Sihanoukville provinces' Mittakpheap District.[4]

This young city has evolved alongside the construction of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, which commenced in June 1955, as the country's gateway to direct and unrestricted international sea trade. The only deep water port in Cambodia includes a mineral Oil terminal and a transport logistics facility.[5] Consequently, the city grew to become a leading national center of trade, commerce, transport and process manufacturing.[6]

Sihanoukville's many beaches and islands make it Cambodia's premier Seaside resort with steadily rising numbers of national visitors and international tourists over the course of the last two decades.[7] As a result of its economic diversity, its region's natural beauty and the recreational potential, an increasing number of seasonal and permanent foreign residents make Sihanoukville one of the culturally most diverse and dynamic population centers in Cambodia.

Despite being the country’s premier sea side destination, the town and its infrastructure remain after decades of war and upheaval very much disjointed and architecturally unimpressive. Infrastructure problems persist, in particular related to water - and power supply, international standard health facilities are very limited.[8]

As the tourism sector is by 2014 still insignificant in comparison with neighboring Thailand, Sihanoukville's future will largely be defined by the authorities' capability of a successfully balanced management in order to protect and conserve natural resources on the one hand and the necessities of island and - urban development, increasing visitor numbers, expanding infrastructure, the industrial sector and population growth on the other.[9]


The official name of the city in Khmer is: Krong (city) Preah (holy) Sihanouk (name of the former king), which adds up to: "City of the holy Sihanouk" or "Honorable Sihanouk City". King Norodom Sihanouk (reigned 1941-1955, 1993-2004) was and still is revered as father of the (modern) nation.[10] The name "Sihanouk" is derived from Sanskrit through two Pali words: Siha (lion), and Hanu (jaws).

The alternative name, Kompong Saom (also romanized as Kompong Som and Kampong Som), (Khmer: កំពង់សោម) means "Port of the Moon" or "Shiva's Port".[11] Saom is derived from the Sanskrit word "saumya", the original (Rig Vedic) meaning of which was "Soma, the juice or sacrifice of the moon-god", but evolved into Pali "moon", "moonlike" "name of Shiva".[12] The word Kampong or Kompong is of Malayan origin[13] and means village or hamlet. Its meaning underwent extension towards pier or river landing bridge.[14]


Main article: History of Cambodia

In post-Angkorian sources, such as the Cambodian Chronicles, the coastal region appears in records starting from the seventeenth century.

Classical Period (before 1700)[edit]

Prior to the ports' foundation works between 1955 and 1960, no recorded settlement on the peninsula existed that was larger than a traditional trade and/or - fishing community. During the many centuries of pre-Angkor history – from Funan to Chenla and during the Khmer Empire, regional trade was centered at O Keo (Vietnamese: Óc Eo) in the Mekong Delta, now the province of Rạch Giá in Vietnam. The township of Prei Nokor (Saigon) was a commercial center of the Khmer Empire.[15]

Early Modern Period (around 1700 - 1863)[edit]

From the end of the seventeenth century, Cambodia lost control of the Mekong River route as Vietnamese power expanded into the lower Mekong. A Cambodian king in the late eighteenth century, Outey-Reachea III allied with a Chinese, Mac-Thien-Tu, who had established an autonomous polity based in Ha Tien and controlled the maritime network on the eastern part of the Gulf of Thailand. Ha Tien was located at a point where a river linking to the Bassac River flows into the Gulf of Thailand. Landlocked Cambodia tried to keep its access to maritime trade through Ha Tien. Alexander Hamilton, who traveled on the Gulf of Thailand in 1720, wrote that two ports, Kompong Som and (Banteay Meas, later Ha Tien) belonged to Cambodia, and Cochin-China was divided from Cambodia by a river of three leagues broad. King Ang Duong constructed a road from his capital of Udong to Kampot, and opened Kampot as the only international seaport of Cambodia. The traveling time between Udong and Kampot was eight days by oxcart and four days by elephants. French Résident Adhemard Leclère wrote: "...Until 1840s, the Vietnamese governed Kampot and Péam, but Kompong Som belonged to Cambodia. The Vietnamese constructed a road from Ha Tien to Svai village - on the border with Kompong-Som - via Kampot."[16]

The British Empire followed a distinct policy by the 1850-ies, seeking to consolidate its influence. Eye witness reports give rare insights, as Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston's agent John Crawfurd reports: "Cambodia was...the Keystone of our policy in these countries, - the King of that ancient Kingdom is ready to throw himself under the protection of any European nation...The Vietnamese were interfering with the trade at Kampot, and this would be the basis of an approach..." Palmerston concluded: "The trade at Kampot - one of the few remaining ports, could never be considerable, in consequence of the main entrance to the country, the Mekong, with all its feeders flowing into the Sea through the territory of Cochin China The country, too, had been devastated by recent Siam - Vietnam wars. Thus, without the aid of Great Britain, Kampot or any other port in Cambodia, can never become a commercial Emporium." Crawfurd later wrote: "The Cambodians... sought to use intervals of peace in the Siam - Vietnam wars to develop intercourse with outside nations. The trade at Kampot which they sought to foster was imperiled by pirates. Here is a point where the wedge might be inserted, that would open the interior of the Indo-Chinese Peninsula to British Commerce, as the great River of the Cambodians traverses its entire length and even affords communication into the heart of Siam.[17]

French Rule (1863 - 1954)[edit]

Under French rule Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia became a single administrative and economic unit. The establishment of another international trading center near the existing city of Saigon was not considered necessary. Focus remained the Mekong, and the idea to establish a completely navigable waterway from the Red River to the Mekong Delta. The most notable infrastructural improvement of this period was the construction of the national railway system, although work on the "Southern Line" only began in 1960.

After Independence (since 1954)[edit]

The city's and province's alternative name Kompong Saom (Kampong Som) was adopted from the local indigenous community. After the dissolution of French Indochina in 1954, it became apparent that the steadily tightening control of the Mekong Delta by Vietnam required a solution to gain unrestricted access to the seas. Plans were made to construct an entirely new deep-water port. Kompong Saom (Kampong Som) was selected for water depth and ease of access. In August 1955, a French/Cambodian construction team cut a base camp into the unoccupied jungle in the area that is now known as Hawaii Beach. Funds for construction of the port came from France and the road was financed by the USA.[18]

During the Vietnam War the port became an intensive military facility on both sides, in the service of National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam and after 1970, under the government of Lon Nol, in the service of the United States.[19]

The port was the last place to be evacuated by the US Army, only days before Khmer Rouge guerrillas took control of the government in April 1975. The events surrounding the taking of the US container ship SS Mayaguez and its crew on 12 May by the Khmer Rouge and the subsequent rescue operation by US Marines played out on the waters of Koh Tang off the coast of Sihanoukville. During the two days of action, the US commenced air strikes on targets on the mainland of Sihanoukville including the port, the Ream Naval Base, an airfield, the railroad yard and the petroleum refinery in addition to strikes and naval gun fire on several islands.[20]

After the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 and the subsequent opening of the economy, the port of Sihanoukville resumed its importance in the development and recovery of the country. With the further opening of new markets in 1999, the city regained its role in the economic growth of Cambodia.

In 1993, the Ream National Park was established per royal decree of former King Sihanouk.[21]

The Sihanoukville Municipality was elevated to a regular province on 22 December 2008 after King Norodom Sihamoni signed a Royal Decree converting the municipalities of Kep, Pailin and Sihanoukville into provinces.[22]

On 26 May 2011 Preah Sihanouk area joined the Paris-based club Les Plus Belles Baies Du Monde (The most Beautiful Bays in the World). The organisation officially accepts the Bay of Cambodia as one of its members at the 7th General Assembly.[23]


Main article: Geography of Cambodia


Sihanoukville town is located at the tip of a rolling peninsula at the Gulf of Thailand. To its North-West and at its center it rises up to 15 metres (49 ft) above sea level, whereas the land gently and steadily flattens towards extended plains and beaches in the South and South-East. These smoothly rolling hills, that provide many settlement opportunities a great variety of perspectives on the coastal plains, the beaches, the sea and the islands define the region's natural character and value. Another agreeable fact is the Gulf of Thailand's low depth and its climate - very moderate in regard to the South China sea to the East and the Indian ocean in the West, where taifuns and monsoonal extremes are permanent perils.[24]

Architecture & City-scape[edit]

As a result of its clearly defined purpose, its very brief but turbulent history and its location, Sihanoukville is distinct from other urban centers in Cambodia. Established after the period of the French Protectorate, bourgeois colonial style quarters as in Kampot, Siem Reap or Phnom Penh do not exist. Architecture and street layout are subject to modern concepts of reduction and functionality. Famous Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann designed elegant objects, public buildings with a distinct function, some still operational. This brief era of New Khmer Architecture ended in 1970 - inconsistency and chaos during the long civil wars had far greater impact on the city's current image.

In 1959 the first urban plan for the city was completed for a population of 55,000 residents; it included cycle paths and green spaces. The plan also clearly marked out zoning for the port, the railway network, the town center with municipal offices, business and residential housing, and finally a tourist zone to the south along the beaches. A feasibility study by the United States Operations Mission (USOM) looked at drawing new water supply from the Prek Tuk Sap and existing lagoons; these were subsequently improved (cut off from the sea) and used as the initial source for town supply. The reservoirs are still operational, although insufficient for today's demands.[25]

Ekreach Road, Sihanoukville's main thoroughfare

The years of turmoil that followed meant that little of the original plan was implemented. The current state of structural inconsistency is testimony to decades of upheaval as layout planning was by no means a subject of aesthetic considerations and applied sciences.

Beginning at the port, a moderate raster of streets spans up to the Weather Station Hill (Victory Hill) and along the local (Victory) beach. Between the National Bank complex and Victory beach pier is one of the very few spots in town, that give the impression to have been planned in advance. The area connects with the city's center along a single highway via typical irregular successions of residential buildings, bare of any distinct features and landmarks. These highways were designed to connect the very few and widely dispersed actual settlement foundations. The neighborhoods lack intimacy, due to a one-dimensional infrastructure. The city's center is a sequence of alternating single blocks of solid urban edifices, such as banks, middle-class hotels, gas stations, pharmacies, Chinese bakeries and electronic retailers followed by long rows of low-end food stalls, makeshift shops, motor-bike repair services, mini-markets, laundry -, gas -, lock-picker services and - too many - mobile phone shops.

Gallery of Ochheuteal/Serendipity Beach area[edit]


Sihanoukville's beaches are one of the city's most valuable ecological and economic resource with varying degrees of commercial exploitation. The beaches listed in this section do not include any of the island's beaches.

Ochheuteal Beach in low season


top: remote beach on Koh Rong
center top left: Koh Bong Po'on
center top right: Koh Rong Resort
center bottom: Koh Rong Sanloem
bottom left: Koh Tuich
bottom right: Koh Dek Koul

All the islands listed below fall under administration of Sihanoukville's Mittakpheap District. The majority is either in the process of or has been assigned for extensive touristic development. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem in particular have so far undergone years of non-coordinated and individually undertaken development. A number of guesthouses and bungalow resorts offers accommodation of greatly varying standard by the beaches or in the lush jungle. Despite the very moderate infrastructure, visitor numbers have risen quickly and Koh Rong has been declared a stop on the Banana Pancake Trail.[29]

Panoramic view of Koh Rong Sanloem's Saracen Bay


Worldwide zones of tropical monsoon climate (Am).

Sihanoukville lies in the Tropical monsoon (Am) climate zone. The city has two seasons: a wet season and a dry season. Monthly averages range from 14 °C (57.2 °F) in January to 36.0 °C (96.8 °F) in July.

The maximum mean is about 30 °C ; the minimum mean, about 24 °C. Maximum temperatures of higher than 32 °C (89.6 °F), however, are common and, just before the start of the rainy season, they may rise to more than 38 °C (100.4 °F). Minimum temperatures rarely fall below 10 °C (50 °F). January is the coolest month, and April is the warmest. Tropical cyclones cause much less damage in Cambodia than they do in Vietnam.

The total annual rainfall average is between 1,000 and 1,500 millimeters (39.4 and 59.1 in). The heaviest amounts fall in August and September. The relative humidity is high at night throughout the year; usually it exceeds 90 percent. During the daytime in the dry season, humidity averages about 50 percent or slightly lower, but it may remain about 60 percent in the rainy period.

Climate data for Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Average high °C (°F)31.3
Average low °C (°F)23.9
Precipitation mm (inches)28.3
Source: world weather online[31]


Main article: Economy of Cambodia

Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone[edit]

Sihanoukville's Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) as seen from National Highway No. 4 near Ream commune

The Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) is an overseas economic and trade cooperation zone which was designed to promote favorable market conditions[32] such as: policy advantages, a safe political environment, favorable trade status, completed infrastructure supporting, low labor cost and excellent services, among others. In addition to its areas around the port, a sizable industrial center, exclusively composed of Chinese companies has been developed since around 2010.[33]

The economy of Sihanoukville City is defined by the commercial imperatives of the international port and its nearby oil terminal. Attached is a regularly modernized[34] cargo storage - and logistics facility which serves numerous shipping companies, freight forwarders, suppliers and maintenance contractors. All of these are based in the port's vicinity.[35]

Other sizable economic sectors of the city are fishery, aqua-cultures and frozen shrimp processing, the garment industry, the brewery, the real estate market and the vast tourism industry with a constantly growing service sector.[36]

Locally brewed Angkor Beer
businesses according to people employed (whole province)
Size of EstablishmentNumber of Establishments
1-10 persons10,424
11-50 persons177
51-100 persons19
101 or more29
Source: Cambodiainvestment - Preah-Sihanouk-Province[37]

Major Companies


Trading accounts for a high percentage of the city's economy as patterns have undergone development since the middle 1980s, when the Soviet Union heavily influenced Cambodia’s trade. The city imports many goods from Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and China while it exports goods to the United States, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. The city often re-exported many of the goods it imported such as electronics, cigarettes, vehicles and gold. Today, the city’s main export is garments, but it also produces and exports timber, logs, and rubber in small quantities.[38][39]

 Commercial banks: Cambodia Commercial Bank, Union Commercial Bank, Cambodia Asia Bank, Cambodia Public Bank, Foreign Trade Bank[40] 

Economic Prospects[edit]

The City's development strategy focuses on tourism, port expansion, and industrial growth. Tourism development is expected to be an economic driver leading to the development of a national commercial center and is already producing rapid growth in the surrounding area. It is anticipated that the port, as a hub for the expansion of maritime transport, will attract additional industry. An industrial zone has been established that includes petrochemical production and food processing based on local fisheries and other elements. With new investments in these areas and associated development strategies, planners anticipate increased urbanization of Sihanoukville, alongside growing economic opportunities that will lead to migration from rural areas.[37]

Panoramic view of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, October 2014

Sihanoukville Port Special Economic Zone[edit]

The Sihanoukville Autonomous Port has an independent administration. In combination with the related logistics - and transport sector it is the city's economic backbone.

At present, the total operational land area of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port is around 124.76 ha. The Old Jetty was constructed in 1956 and became operational in 1960. The jetty is 290m long by 28m wide and can accommodate 4 vessels with medium GRT at both sides. The exterior berth is -8.50m-13m depth, while the interior berth is -7.50m -8.50m depth.

In order to cope with the increasing rates of cargo throughput the Royal Government of Cambodia had constructed another 350m long new quay with -10.50m maximum draft in 1966. At present, this new quay can accommodate 3 vessels with -7.00m draft medium GRT. The construction of Container Terminal with 400m long by -10.50m depth and 6.5 ha of container yard was fully completed on March 2007.[41]

Sihanoukville Autonomous Port Traffic Rates[42]
Gross Throughput (Tons)1,772,3611,503,0501,380,8471,586,7911,818,8772,057,9671,405,338
Not Included Fuel1,454,8561,242,0111,131,6991,320,1021,428,9921,605,672958,279
Not Include Fuel &Cont.650,329308,153107,929197,573193,573291,114162,520
Cargo Containerized804,527933,8581,023,7701,122,5291,235,4191,314,559795,759
Container Throughput (TEUs)181,286213,916211,141231,036253,271258,775157,639
Vessel Calling (Units)878730686912876954642
 Primary Destinations: Singapore, Hong Kong, Sangurila, Bangkok, Ho Chiminh, Shanghai, Laem Chabang, Yantian, Kaohsiung[40] Frequency of scheduled services: 38/week[40] 


Roads and Streets[edit]

Snake island bridge, as seen from Treasure Island Beach, October 2014
mile stone of National Highway 4 near Ream commune

Roads in Sihanoukville city are in relative good condition, although smaller streets, in particular in neighborhoods tend to be non-maintained dirt tracks, unless upgraded through the local communities' initiatives.

Urban Traffic[edit]

Cambodia follows the right-hand traffic.

Although Cambodia's traffic laws[45] are profoundly the same as those of any other country, with respect to the country's membership of the ASEAN, that requires recognition of ratified agreements,[46] regular traffic only functions on a basic level and in times of low density. Conduct is still traditional as smaller and slower vehicles are expected to yield to big vehicles, usually driven by perceived wealthier and socially superior people.[47] Nationwide, pedestrians have to walk beside the roads and are - again traditionally - considered poor, inferior and bare of any prerogative. Sidewalks in all cities are being completely occupied and obstructed by businesses and/or used as parking lots, rendering them completely useless - although not allowed according to article 5 of the General provisions of the Traffic Law: "Sidewalks are the roadsides in cities or towns, which are prepared for pedestrians. The sidewalks are not allowed for vehicles to park."[45]

traffic in Sihanoukville

Law enforcement has been accused of failing to enforce international norms. A habit of running predictable checkpoints has developed over the last years. Tourists on rental bikes and common people are often stopped and forced to pay indiscreet sums, often based on mere assumptions and unsupported claims. Drivers of vehicles with perceived social status remain generally unmolested. Consequently the educational effect of these activities is very low.[48]

In all urban and residential areas an overabundance of motorbikes exists due to the absence of any form of public transportation and taxi-cars. For non-residential and inexperienced people Sihanoukville city remains unsafe for driving. Drivers of motorbikes often do not wear helmets, drive indiscriminately on any side of the street and it is common to see motorbikes with more than two passengers or vehicles driven by children and underaged people. Traffic lights are often ignored.[49]

In 2008 the government ordered the countrywide enforcement of the use of helmets, but order was not thoroughly enforced.[50][51][52]

Public and Individual Transport[edit]

See also: Motorcycle taxi

The city does not have any form of public transportation. Local administration does issue transport licences for any individual of the informal urban transportation system of motor-taxis (moto-dups) and tuk-tuks. The system is not administered by authorities, as anybody can become a motor-taxi - or tuk-tuk driver. As a consequence, prices of services are ad-hoc, insurance non-existent and service quality varies considerable. The overwhelming majority of drivers do not have knowledge of street names and/or numbers.[53]


Sihanoukville airport, October 2014

The Sihanoukville International Airport, (KOS) formerly called Kaong Kang (កោងកាង=mangrove) Airport is located in the Ream commune in central Sihanoukville province. It lies close to the National Highway No.4, only around 500 m from the Ream beach on top a former filled in and drained mangrove lagoon, just about 18 kilometers from Sihanoukville City.

October 2014: Only international charter flights[40][54]

Long Distance Buses and Taxis[edit]

bus time-tables

The central long-distance bus station for all transport business operators[55] is located on National Highway No. 4 in the city's north-east near the Autonomous Port. Transport business operators maintain booking offices in the urban centers.

Sihanoukville is served by many competing companies[56] with daily scheduled services from and to all major population centers in Cambodia. Direct destinations are Phnom Penh, Koh Kong (city) and Kampot. Some companies offer services to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and to Angkor Wat near Siem Reap through a connection via Phnom Penh. Buses operate from 7.00 am until around 3.00 pm plus a daily night-bus/sleeper around 8.00 pm.

Privately operated taxi stands for long distance transportation are situated at the central bus station, in the commercial urban center and the tourist center in the South.

Marine Transport, Island Access, Ferries[edit]

The last daily national official marine ferry service from/to Sihanoukville city to/from Krong Koh Kong ceased operation with the completion of National Highway 48 in 2007.

Koh Rong island and Koh Rong Sanloem island have daily ferry service.[57]

Access to smaller islands is generally provided by local holiday resorts, dive operators or private operators. Additionally, small long-tail boats and medium size cruising boats can be individually hired for sightseeing, fishing, diving and drinking trips at guest-houses, travel agencies and diving operators.

Marina Oceania - the first marina in Cambodia operational since 2013 for yachts and boats up to 25 meters with berths for 15 boats. It is situated at the local port's pier, near Koh Preab island. (coordinates: 10° 39' 59" N / 103° 30' 41" E).[58]

Holiday Cruise ships infrequently stop by at the port during their voyages in South-East Asia.[59]

Rail Transport[edit]

The moderate railway network of Cambodia was re-constructed for freight transport during the last years by Toll Holdings, which has obtained a building and maintenance concession from the Royal Cambodian Railway.[60] The "Southern line" constructed 1960-1969 with a length of 264 km, connects the Sihanoukville Port Special Economic Zone with the capital Phnom Penh.

The currently rather deteriorated train station near the port used to manage passenger train transportation to Phnom Penh via Kampot before the civil war (1975).


tenement building with bird's house on the 3 top floors

The 2008 census of Cambodia counted 89,846 inhabitants of Sihanoukville City and approximately 66,700 in its urban center.[61]

The population of the city is apart from descendants of the indigenous inhabitants not older than 3 generations as the product of recent history, such as the Cambodian diaspora and Cambodian humanitarian crisis of and after the Pol Pot era. Historic events which led to demographic upheavals in Cambodia are evident in the demographic trends of the city. With the arrival of displaced refugees, in subsequent decades and centuries, a non-Khmer, mixed Asian population grew to a high percentage of the total population in the core population in urban areas.

Population Projections for Sihanoukville Province 2008-2016[62]
Annual Growth2.572.582.572.552.522.472.432.38
Sex Ratio100.1100.3100.5100.6100.9101.0101.1101.2101.3
Median Age21.822.322.823.323.724.224.725.125.6

In addition to Khmer, ethnic groups like Vietnamese, Chinese, Cham, Thai, Korean, French, British, Europeans, Australians and Americans live in the urban area. Due to its status as an international port, high volume and density of commerce and the impact of the service sector related to the tourist industry, Krong Preah Sihanouk has a relative high Human Development Index (HDI)of 0.750, compared to the national average HDI of 0.523.[63]


Dental Clinic in Sihanoukville, October 2014

Cambodia still has one of the worst health statuses in Asia, although the situation is slowly changing for the better. The public health system has suffered from war and neglect and has had serious difficulties meeting the health needs of the population. Some government hospitals and other health units have been rehabilitated so that they are autonomous entities, staffed with qualified personnel. This has led to a significant increase in the utilization of health services. At the same time, modern standard private clinics, including local and foreign service providers, are increasing in number and are competing with State-owned hospitals.[64]

Sanitation practices in rural Cambodia are often primitive. The water supply is the main problem; rivers and streams are common sources of drinking water and of water for cooking. These water sources are often the same ones used for bathing, washing clothes, and disposing of waste products. Adequate sewage disposal is nonexistent in most rural and suburban areas.[65]

Local pharmacies provide a limited supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications, but the quality of locally obtained medications can vary greatly. Counterfeit medication is readily available, often indiscernible from authentic medication, and can be potentially dangerous. [66]

Hospitals/ Clinics with emergency service[67]


Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship Monument near Victory Beach Sihanoukville, October 2014

The majority of the municipal inhabitants are of East-Asian descend, which profoundly characterize and influence local customs, moral, commerce, cuisine and tradition based on Pan-East-Asian beliefs and ideas. Cambodian culture is of distinct ancient Khmer origin, accompanied by century-old moderate Chinese and Vietnamese cultural influences.[69] The prolonged presence of foreign and in particular Westerners in Cambodia and Sihanoukville town contributes to a noticeable varied, modern, multi-cultural manifestation, which is increasingly influenced by modern media.[70]

The inhabitants of Sihanoukville province celebrate all religious, traditional and secular festivities such as Cambodian New Year (April), Chinese New Year (between January and February), Water Festival (November), Pchum Ben (honor to the ancestors in October) and Kathen Ceremony (offerings to the monks), 8 January (Day of Cambodian - Vietnamese Friendship) among others.

The ethnic and minority religious groups celebrate Christmas Day (25 December) and Holy Week for the Catholics, Ramadan for the Muslims, Valentine's Day and the International New Year (31 December).

Many urban families of Chinese or Sino-Khmer descent[71] in Sihanoukville city have for most of Cambodia's history constituted the commercial elite and urban upper classes. Besides the expressed Buddhist faith there is a strong dedication to Confucian work ethics, on commercial conduct and trade procedures while family bonds are very strong.[72][73]


With more than 150 regular hotels[74] in all price-categories among an undisclosed number of guest-houses, Sihanoukville can easily handle current visitor quota and can generally cope with all standard demands. The islands have by 2014 a more than ample supply of accommodations, including an international 5-star resort,[75] several mid-range places on the beaches and dozens of budget guest-houses and bungalow resorts.[76][77] Despite these factors, the city and its region are still considered to be under-explored by foreign tourists. In order to satisfactorily manage the future increase of visitors, Sihanoukville's infrastructure requires large-scale upgrades.

Further tourist attractions are: Ream National Park, Kbal Chhay Waterfall, Prey Nob Mangrove Forest, Thmor Roung & Or Thom

117,147 Foreign visitor arrivals to the Coastal Areas in January - February 2013[78]
160,514 Foreign visitor arrivals to the Coastal Areas in January - February 2014[79]

Top ten foreign arrivals in Cambodia, January - February 2014
Korea (ROK)
China (RPC)
Source: Cambodia Tourism.[79]


The city has a constantly changing, but large number and variety of restaurants and bars. Fresh seafood, especially crab, prawns and ocean fish are common, but there is also a wide variety of places offering foreign cuisines - Seafood Restaurants (17), other Asian (23), Greek (1), French (13), Indian (1), German (2), Sri Lankan (1), British, Italian (5) and Pizzerias(3) and Japanese (3). There are Western bakeries (3), BBQ Restaurants (7), Café & Coffee shops (17), Espresso coffee shops (1) and countless Bars and Pubs (over 50).[80][81][82]


beer advertisement with famous Cambodian singer Preap Sovath, Ream, October 2014

As a tropical sea-side resort, Sihanoukville’s night life is heavily influenced and characterized by the city's large number of beaches. All along the central tourist area between the Golden Lion Plaza and the Ochheuteal/Serendipity Beaches are international and Western styled night bars, live music venues and all-night beach-discotheques.[80][83]

Most young Cambodians generally prefer to frequent classic style night-clubs with air-condition, lavish interior and dedicated to more traditional ways of service procedures and cultural expression.

At Weather Station (Victory) Hill, bar operators tend to adopt certain traditional Asian and local elements of recreational services. Many Westerners consider these etablissements as clearly part of the sex industry. With respect to the fact that prostitution is illegal, bar operators publicly avoid procedures that violate local ethic standards.[26]


Sihanoukville is the capital city of Sihanoukville province and is governed by its deputy governor. Sihanoukville occupies the greater part of four of the five communes or Sangkat(Sangkat Muoy Commune, Sangkat Pi Commune, Sangkat Bei Commune, Sangkat Buon Commune) of Sihanoukville provinces' Mittakpheap District. The port has its own autonomous administration.[84] The Sangkats are divided into 19 villages.

Kampong Seila

Kampong Seila district, which belonged to Koh Kong Province has, per Royal decree, been transferred to Sihanoukville Province in January 2009: "The administrative boundaries of Preah Sihanouk municipality and Koh Kong province shall be adjusted by sub-dividing land from Kampong Seila district in whole and partial land of Sre Ambil district in Koh Kong province to Preah Sihanouk municipality."[85] Officials were assigned to create a National Workshop - also in relation to other provinces - and process all necessary administrative tasks.[86][87] TheNational Institute of Statistics of Cambodia refers in its most recent and preliminary studies to a successful integration of the district, including maps[88][89], although official statistics and numbers are expected to come with the next full report. Preah Sihanouk Province's new official domain has incorporated Kompong Seila district.[90]

The communes of Mittakpheap District
ISO CodeCommuneRomanizationPopulationSectionsUrban
1801-1សង្កាត់ មួយSangkat 137,4403Yes
1801-2សង្កាត់ បីរSangkat 225,1423Yes
1801-3ស្ទឹងហាវ បីSangkat 313,1083Majority
1801-4សង្កាត់ បយនSangkat 413,1086Majority
1801-5សង្កាត់ កោះរ៉ុងSangkat Koh Rong1,1084No

Autonomous Port[edit]

The Sihanoukville Autonomous Port lies within Sangkat 1 with an area of around 123 ha. The port is located 18 kilometers/11 miles from the Kaong Kang Airport and 4 kilometers/2 miles from Sihanoukville town center. Ships' passengers are allowed to visit Sihanoukville town. The terminal itself has no shopping center, banking facilities, tourist offices, only toilets.[91]


Theravada Buddhism is state religion in Cambodia, with the pagoda as the traditional spiritual center of the community.[92] The most prominent pagodas in the city:

Sihanoukville city is also home to minor communities of other religions such as: Catholics, Muslims, Protestants and Taoists. Places of worship:

Religion in Cambodia
Theravada Buddhism
Mahayana Buddhism


Cambodian general education is based on a national school curriculum that consists of two main parts: basic education and upper secondary education. Basic education curriculum is divided into three cycles of three years each. The first cycle (grade 1-3) consists of 27-30 lessons per week lasting 40 minutes which are allocated to five main subjects. The second cycle (grade 4-6) consists of the same number of lessons but is slightly different. The third cycle (grade 7-9) consists of 32-35 lessons which are allocated for 7 major subjects.[93]

Upper Secondary Education curriculum consists of two different phases. The curriculum for the first phase (grade 10) is identical to the third cycle of primary education. The second phase (grade 11-12) has two main components: Compulsory and Electives.[94]

The total adult literacy rate of the city is 95.37%.[95] The city has experienced shortages of teachers[96] but the situation has improved during the last decade. The 2004 statistics show the following centers of education: 33 pre-schools with 1,670 children, 52 primary schools with 34,863 students, 5 colleges with 4,794 students; 2 high schools with 1,449 students; 10 vocational training with 961 students and 13,728 students in private schools.

Unicef reports: Increase in reach and sustainability of children learning in relevant, inclusive and quality early childhood and basic education through increased institutional capacities. [97]

Sihanoukville Educational Statistics 2004
Primary School5234863
Vocational training10961
Private Schools2713,728
Sihanoukville Educational Statistics 2014[98]
Primary School7380053226212778
Secondary School2726026911889725
Lycees with grade 10-12 only13131136687

Private educational institutes in Sihanoukville

Sister cities[edit]

See also[edit]




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External links[edit]



Info, History & Geography[edit]