The New York Times has released their starter kit for escaping into the world – their renowned list of the “52 best places to go in the world”.
The beaches of Sihanoukville ranked at number 13 on the list amongst other top destinations such as New Orleans in Louisiana, which took the top spot, followed by Colombia and the Basilicata in Italy.
As the list eluded to, Cambodia has been notoriously famous for its temples like Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, which still remain the biggest tourist attraction in Cambodia.
In 2015 Angkor Wat was labelled by Lonely Planet as the number one tourist destination in the world.
However, adorned with white sand beaches, accessible islands, a host of developments and new infrastructure initiatives in play – allowing for ease of access to the seaside province – it seems that Sihanoukville’s tourism potential is garnering well deserved global attention.
Sihanoukville International Airport has been undergoing major renovations, while the construction of a new terminal promises to increase capacity to 500,000 passengers per year.
Once completed, Sihanoukville Airport is set to be the kingdom’s largest airport, until the newly-proposed airport in Phnom Penh is built.
Already new flight routes have been added, with ongoing international flights from China, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Grand Union Group, the developer of the Dara Sakor Seashore Resort Casino in Koh Kong, received permission in 2017 to build another airport. Although Koh Kong is not directly in the province, it still represents another key point of access which is within a few hours driving distance of Sihanoukville.
Construction is anticipated to start on this airport in early 2018 and will involve a total investment of $500 million.
In terms of the hotel scene – both on the shoreline and the multitude of surrounding islands, including the popular Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem, Koh Russey and Krabey island – this has exploded over the last few years.
Of special note is the Six Senses on Krabey Island, a mere 20-minute boat transfer south of Sihanoukville, and Alila Villas on Koh Russey, with both resorts opening in 2018.
Both will offer the full island experience, with snorkeling, diving and all other beach amenities for tourists to enjoy.
Besides hotels, the potential for mixed-use and residential developments has caught the eye of major international developers.
D’Seaview, Blue Bay, The SeaGate Suite, Royal Bayview and Sunshine Bay are amongst the major projects which are now under construction and will bring luxury facilities and a new skyline to the province.
In addition, infrastructure initiatives such as a direct highway between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, improved internal roads, port expansions and Cambodia’s largest Special Economic Zone (SEZ) are all factors contributing to Sihanoukville’s status as a “boomtown” for attracting both tourists and investors alike.