Cambodia is set to become a hot destination in 2012.
Like neighboring Thailand, Cambodia’s beaches features powdery, white sand lining crystal clear, turquoise blue waters. But in Cambodia, it may be just you and the locals.
When many people think of Cambodia, two images come to mind: Angkor Wat, the most impressive ancient temple complex in Southeast Asia, and poverty, the terrible effect of the Khmer Rouge regime of the late twentieth century.
When I first visited the country back in 2001, the dreadful after-effects were clearly visible: crippled people dragging their bodies through the streets begging, the countryside littered with deadly landmines, constant reminders of Cambodia’s horrific past.
Ten years on and all change. In addition to the magnificence of Angkor Wat and an interesting and unique culture, Cambodia offers beautiful, clean beaches stretching along its south coast. Cambodia has several mainland beach areas and islands off the coast with pristine beaches.
Sihanoukville is the largest of these, offering a variety of experiences.
Ochheuteal Beach offers a vibrant, busy atmosphere, with beach stands and chairs. Khmer food is available as well as burgers, pizza, and alcohol.
Serendipity Beach similarly has Western food and bars, as well as a pier with boats to take you to the islands. For a quieter atmosphere, head to Independence Beach or Otres Beach.
In the early twentieth century, Kep was a beach resort for wealthy Cambodians, who came for weekends from Phnom Penh. Following heavy bombing during the Khmer Rouge period, Kep is finally making a comeback as a beach destination.
Tourists, both domestic and international, come to the sleepy seaside town and enjoy sea view picnics. Picnic platforms and mats line the road opposite the beach, and local vendors sell freshly caught seafood.
Boutique hotels and restaurants serving Western food are springing up across town offering a range of accommodation and dining options.
The islands off Cambodia’s mainland coast have some amazing beaches.
Check out Koh Rong Saloem, two hours from Sihanoukville, in particular Lazy Beach (http://lazybeachcambodia.com/Home.html), and also Koh Thmei, an uninhabited island that forms part of Ream National Park. Koh Tonsay or Rabbit Island, half an hour from Kep, offers sheltered beaches and great swimming conditions.
Worldette says: If you’re planning a beach holiday in Southeast Asia in 2012, Cambodia should be top of your list. With its rapid development and rebirth as a top tourist hotspot, the beaches of this amazing country won’t remain tranquil hidden treasures for long.
Have you enjoyed the beaches in Cambodia? Let us know in the comments below?