Sihanoukville (Krong Preah Seihanu), formerly Kompong Som and familiarly just Snookyville or even Snooky is a seaside town featuring Cambodia's best-known beaches.
In a land with thousands of years of history, Sihanoukville is a colourful but tragic upstart. A mere fifty years ago, a French-Cambodian construction carved a camp out of the jungle and started building the first deep-sea port of a newly independent Cambodia. Named Sihanoukville in 1964 after the ruling prince of Cambodia, the booming port and its golden beaches soon drew Cambodia's jetsetting elite, spawning the first Angkor Beer brewery and the modernist seven-story Independence Hotel which, claim locals, even played host to Jacqueline Kennedy on her whirlwind tour of Cambodia in 1967.
Alas, the party came to an abrupt end in 1970 when Sihanouk was deposed in a coup and Cambodia descended into civil war. The town – renamed Kompong Som – soon fell on hard times: the victorious Khmer Rouge used the Independence Hotel for target practice and, when they made the mistake of hijacking an American container ship, the port was bombed by the U.S. Air Force. Even after Pol Pot's regime was driven from power, the bumpy highway to the capital was long notorious for banditry and the beaches stayed empty.
Peace returned in 1993 following the historic elections organized by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia ( UNTAC) and in the ensuing ten years Sihanoukville has been busy picking up the pieces. First visited only by a few intrepid backpackers, guidebooks still talk of walls pockmarked by bullets, but any signs of war are hard to spot in today's Sihanoukville.
Kbal Chhay waterfall is located in Khan Prey Nup, about 16 kilometers north of downtown Sihanoukville. To reach the site from Sihanoukville, take National Road 4 toward Phnom Penh. About 7 kilometers outside of town, there is a sign announcing the site. Turn left and go 9 kilometers along a trail. The water at Kbal Chhay comes from many sources along the mountain range, although only three of these sources are visible. The waterfall, which is 14 meters high, is at the point where those three sources join
Kbal Chhay was discovered in 1960. Three years later, it was developed into a reservoir to supply clean water to the city of Sihanoukville. The reservoir construction, however, was interrupted due to civil war, and the site became a hide-out for the Khmer Rouge. In 1997, Kbal Chhay was marked for development, and a year later Kok An Company was awarded a contract to construct a road and develop the site for tourism.
Ream National Park, officially called Preah Sihanouk National Park, the park has become known as 'Ream' because it is located in the Ream commune. The park was established in 1993, inaugurated in March 1995, and encompasses 21,000 hectares of coastal area including sandy beaches, mangrove forests, the Prek Tuk Sap estuary, off-shore coral reefs and two islands (Koh Thmei and Koh Seh). Though rarely seen the Park provides refuge for such species as macaques, sun bear, dolphins, mouse deer, pangolin, over a hundred species of birds and there is even rumored to be a tiger