August 23, 2011

Cambodia – South East Asia’s new beach destination


Sihanoukville beach, Cambodia
Countries in South East Asia have some of the most stunning beaches in the world, which is why they attract so many beach going tourists. Most people are likely to head to the beaches of Thailand’s tropical islands, Indonesia’s beautiful Bali or Malaysia’s coast, however, one South East Asian country that has been overlooked on the beach front, is Cambodia.

Well known for its mysterious temples of Angkor, bottle green jungles and it’s terrifying past, people forget that Cambodia has a beautiful coastline. Unlike the beach hot spots of Thailand, Indonesia or Malaysia, Cambodia’s beach tourism is still relatively undiscovered allowing you to experience this pristine beauty as nature intended.

Cambodia is slowly carving out its place among the Asian beach players and, with new hotels and resorts going up, the coastal tourist infrastructure here is growing.

Sihanoukville is the largest town along the coast and has a buzzing, typically Cambodian atmosphere. It’s not the prettiest of towns but, is home to six beautiful and laid-back beaches. These beaches vary from those with lively bars and restaurants, with fresh seafood barbecues, to new resort developments and those left untouched, expanses of soft sugar-like sand and azure water gently lapping the shore. The beaches are particularly good for swimming.

The town of Kep lies further up the coast and has very little in terms of tourist infrastructure, even though this was actually Cambodia’s first beach resort. Kep used to be the getaway for Cambodia’s wealthy who would come here on weekends from Phnom Penh. Luxurious beach side villas were built here, only to be destroyed when the Khmer Rouge took over, leaving gutted ‘ghost towns’.

Today, Kep has a small beachfront, but some of the best seafood around. Its best beaches however, lie off shore on its peaceful islands.

The beaches of Koh Kong lie close to the border with Thailand and are emerging as popular destinations with divers, eco-tourists and beach goers alike. The beaches range from those with tourist hotels and casinos, to small and untouched, upmarket and tropical island paradises. Diving, island hopping and hiking in the stunning Cardamom Mountains with its gushing waterfalls and jungle foliage are popular pursuits here. Cambodia has so many islands and coastal beaches waiting to be discovered and before long they will be fully marked on the tourist beach trail. Sihanoukville and Koh Kong will soon become as familiar as names such as Koh Samui, Phuket or Bali. But hurry and get here before they do, so you can discover Cambodia’s beaches before they change.

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