Where to Stay:
Don't stay anywhere near Victory Hill. The former backpacker area has become sex tourist central in recent years, and the scene is nauseating. Serendipity Beach is where most decent Western travelers stay these days, and it's pleasant enough, with all the backpacker amenities. If you want to relax, stay at Cloud 9; if you want to party, stay at Monkey Republic.
My favorite guesthouse in Sihanoukville is a little place called Geckozy, on a quiet backstreet downtown, well away from the tourist zones. Rooms at Geckozy are clean and cheap and there's free WiFi.
Beaches and Beyond:
Victory Beach, like Victory Hill, is best avoided. Sokha Beach is the nicest in town, but the white sand is now walled off behind the gates of the luxury Sokha Resort. Ocheauteal Beach is split into two parts: The western half, with Serendipity at one end, is the domain of Western tourists, while the eastern half is where Cambodian tourists play.
Beyond Ocheauteal is Otres Beach, a much less crowded alternative, but when I went there last week most businesses were shut down and sex tourists were representing.
My favorite spot in Sihanoukville is the temple on top of a mountain overlooking town. This is a great spot to get away from the beach scene and watch the sunset in peace. For tips on temple visits, check out this guide.
Where to Eat:
The best thing about Sihanoukville is the food. Holy Cow Restaurant serves up terrific Western comfort food downtown, and there are two excellent Japanese restaurants called Kukai and Happa side by side near Serendipity Beach.
Seafood beach barbeques are an inexpensive treat, and for a good coffee check out the Starfish Bakery and Café, a wonderful grassroots non-profit located behind the Samudera supermarket.
Finally, Cambodia's weirdest restaurant experience awaits at The Snake House, the brainchild of a wealthy Russian who has amassed a huge collection of Cambodian snakes and reptiles, all of which live in glass tanks in the restaurant. Pythons live inside the tables!
[Photos: Ryan Libre]