Overview of Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville (Khmer– Krong Preah Sihanouk), also known as Kampong Som, is a province in southern Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand. This port city is a growing Cambodian urban center, located 185 kilometres (115 mi) southwest of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. The province is named after King Father Norodom Sihanouk and grew up around the construction of Sihanoukville Port. Construction on the port began in June 1955 and it was the only deep water port in Cambodia. The port was built in part due to the waning power of the French leading to the Vietnamese tightening their control over the Mekong Delta and hence restricting river access to Cambodia. Sihanoukville’s beaches have made it a popular tourist destination.
The province is served by Sihanoukville International Airport, 18 kilometres (11 mi) from downtown, although it has a limited commercial operation. The planned flights between Sihanoukville and Siem Reap may encourage visitors to Angkor temples in Siem Reap to extend their stay, though the crash of a charter flight in Phnom Damrey on 25 June 2007 from Siem Riep, has caused concerns.
Sihanoukville attracts tourists with its relaxed beach atmosphere when compared to Thailand’s more developed ones. However, the city has attracted not only tourists, but several NGOs and foreign and national investors in the last years in order to develop not only the growing tourist industry, but its capacity as an international sea port and other sectors like textile and real estate. In Sihanoukville is also located the main factory of Angkor Beer, the Cambodian national beer.
Sihanoukville was the place of the last official battle of the United States army in the Vietnam War, although the incident took place outside Vietnam. It is known as the Mayagüez incident on May 12–15, 1975 between the US forces and the Khmer Rouge. Currently, visitors dive in Koh Tang, one of the Sihanoukville islands where the major battle to free the SS Mayagüez took place. Divers can see two shipwrecks 40 metres (130 ft) down.
On 22 December 2008, King Norodom Sihamoni signed a Royal Decree that changed the municipalities of Kep, Pailin and Sihanoukville into provinces, as well as adjusting several provincial borders.
The annual average temperature in Sihanoukville is around 28 °C/82 °F. The maximum is 38 °C/100 °F in April and May. January in Sihanoukville sees a low of about 19 °C/66 °F. Temperatures in mountainous areas can plummet to 14-15 °C. It can even soar to the high 50 °F or higher during the winter months, and drop to freezing or lower in the nights. The Annamite Mountains in southern Laos get the highest average precipitation of more than 3000 mm (10 feet) per year. The average precipitation is highest in southern Laos, where the Annamite Mountains receive over 3000 mm (10 feet) annually. The annual rainfall in Sihanoukville is 1500-2000 mm (5 to almost 7 feet), and just 1000-1500 mm (3-5 feet) annually in the northern provinces.