In the 1990s, many foreigners would have not imagined visiting conflict-stricken Cambodia, especially for a beach vacation. Fast forward to 2012 – and 3.5 million international visitors made way to the Southeast Asian country. The future appears even brighter: For 2013, government officials predict arrivals will reach 4 million.
When Cambodia’s tourism industry began to flourish in 2000 the majority of visitors ventured to Siem Reap, home of the treasured Angkor Wat temples. Today, Siem Reap still attracts the bulk of visitors. Nevertheless, Cambodia’s tourism industry has been diversifying and offering new travel destinations – namely, the virtually untouched beaches and islands.
Without question, Sihanoukville is THE bustling beach destination in Cambodia. There is an airport, for which a future expansion is planned. And it is also home to Cambodia’s primary port. There are over a 100 foreign owned restaurants and nightlife venues catering to almost all tastes. Sihanoukville also hosts several casinos and plans for more in the future. Attracting a more rambunctious crowd, it can certainly be considered an ideal scene for the party-goer.
But there are tourism activities beyond the obvious day drinking, gambling and late night carousing. As a Buddhist country, there are temples and other relics in the area. Moreover, one can enjoy various water sports, day tours, cooking lessons and even “voluntourism.” For instance: after a few days of heavy eating, drinking and gambling, one can end their trip on a high note by giving back at the “Help the Cambodian Children” charity.
Another popular destination are the Koh Rong Islands. This archipelago is reachable from Sihanoukville by boat. It features a much more relaxing environment with white-sand beaches and verdant hills. However, it is still vastly underdeveloped. Rather than staying in one of Koh Rong’s bungalows, many tourists opt for a day trip. Businessmen and government officials alike have large plans for the future including golf courses, casinos and even an airport.
Fancy a luxury getaway with even more relaxation and seclusion? Look no further than Song Saa island. Part of the Koh Rong archipelago, Song Saa is Cambodia’s first private island resort. It is a mere 35-40 minutes away from Sihanoukville on a private speed boat. The resort even provides transportation from capital city Phnom Penh via their BMW 5 Series fleet.
The resort spans two islands, connected by footbridge, that are collectively called Song Saa. There are a total of 27 villas all designed around the “Cambodian fishing village” theme. While Song Saa is indeed isolated, do not fear for every villa comes equipped with WiFi. And an espresso machine.
Song Saa boasts numerous facilities and services such as a spa, two boutiques, yoga, an infinity swimming pool and even wedding venue. The resort operates on the motto “luxury that treads lightly.” Basically, Song Saa has a dedicated team that focuses solely on preserving nearby natural beauty and villages.
A luxurious stay at Song Saa will cost a pretty penny, though. Depending on the villa and season, a single night will range from $1,336 for the one bedroom Jungle Villa during low season to $5,153 for the two bedroom Royal Villa during high season. It’s a price that includes almost all resort amenities with a few exceptions like spa treatments and motorised water sports.
Whether staying at party paradise Sihanoukville or Song Saa, Cambodia has some of the premier beaches in the Southeast Asian region. And the future looks even brighter.
Photo Credit – Courtesy of the “It’s Kat” WordPress. Check out the post to view more fabulous pictures from Song Saa.
A version of this article was originally featured on Investvine.com