To the southwest of Phnom Penh, the area around the town of Sihanoukville offers some fine beaches and three national parks, adding another dimension to Cambodia's appeal.

SIHANOUKVILLE

The town of Sihanoukville is of itself fairly unremarkable, but protrudes slightly into the sea and is rimmed with six beaches, Victory, Hawaii, Independence, Sokha, private to the five star Sokha Beach Hotel, Serendipity and Ocheuteal, the town's most popular. 



Out of town another 3km stretch of sand can be found at Otres beach. For those seeking further seclusion a scattering of islands offshore, such as Koh Pos, Koh Tas and Koh Rong Samlem provide alternative beaches and good snorkelling. The best diving can be found further out at Koh Tang and Koh Prins, which also offers wreck diving for the more experienced.

KOH RONG



Along the coast to the east is Ream National Park, covering an area of beautiful beaches, mangroves, rocky outcrops and the islands of Koh Ses and Koh Thmei. Over 150 bird species, including Fishing Eagles, Kingfishers, Storks, and many migrant waders can be seen in this area. Other creatures commonly found in the park include Fishing Cats, Monkeys, Deer and Wild Pigs.

North of Sihanoukville, Kirirom National Park and Bokor National Park both provide forested inland escapes with trekking trails and waterfalls, and are home to Elephants, leopards and tigers.

KEP

To the southeast, close to the Vietnam border, the town of Kep is well regarded for its seafood and was formerly Cambodia’s main seaside resort in the time before the Khmer Rouge seized power. Though the beach is a mixture of pebble and sand, the town enjoys a more laid back atmosphere than Sihanoukville and is again returning to popularity among those looking for an alternative to the traditional umbrella-filled seafront.



For those familiar with Kep, the absence of a good sandy beach is easily remedied by a visit to its islands, Koh Tonsay and Koh Poh, both of which provide a selection of good beaches, with the coral reefs of the latter good for snorkelling.



Another location to visit in this area is the caves of Kampong Trach, situated in the surrounding countryside of Kampot, also known for its much-revered and unique pepper, which can be sampled at several farms.