What we say:
Most Sihanoukville beaches have distinct personalities. Wherever you stay on Otres Beach, for example, it will have a laidback “Otres Beach” feel to it. Victory Beach is different. More of a pastiche of identities than a single entity, there’s something for everyone on Victory Beach, from backpackers wandering down from Victory Hill to families in town for a resort-style holiday.
The most direct route to Victory Beach from Victory Hill is a steep, narrow road that has changed little over the years except for the recent addition of a couple of new guesthouses. Sakal Bungalows, at the foot of the hill, is the last backpacker-style accommodation before you cross the main road that skirts the beach.
Technically, Victory Beach is divided in two by a rocky point opposite the Victory Hill access road. The rocky promontory and a huge development make access to the southern side of the beach difficult though, and for most visitors, Victory Beach begins at the pier just north of the rocks, which serves as the launching point for some of the more upmarket island excursions.
Those who go to Victory Beach to spend the day at the beach usually find it on the north side of the pier. Once upon a time, this stretch of beach was dominated by small thatch-roofed bars and restaurants, but since its completion in 2008, the Airport Club takes up the lion’s share of the beach. Neither a club nor an airport, the Airport Club gets its name from an old passenger plane that takes pride of place in the centre of the hangar that shelters the “club,” which in reality is a rather sumptuous restaurant/bar by day and disco by night.
If the old Sihanoukville is more to your liking, no worries. Just go past the Airport Club to one of the half dozen or so remaining beach bars along this end of the beach. They all serve decent food and drinks at good prices and are just as comfortable as their upmarket neighbour.
North of these humble beachfront bars is the best but least known section of Victory Beach. If you’re a well-to-do Cambodian, you know it well as home to some of Sihanoukville’s best restaurants. Take Chhneameas Restaurant, for example. Most Western travellers don’t even know it exists, but on any given weekend, its parking lot quickly fills up with Range Rovers and other luxury vehicles with Phnom Penh license plates.
The same is true of most accommodation on Victory Beach. The New Beach Hotel, for instance, is popular with Cambodian and other Asian visitors, but virtually unknown to Western travellers.
An exception to the rule is the Western-managed Victory Beach Hotel. In spite of its location off the Western traveller’s usual beaten track, its combination of great location, upmarket amenities and modest prices made this hotel an instant Sihanoukville success story from the moment it opened in late 2011.
And that’s Victory Beach — at least for now. The old Holiday Palace across the street from the Victory Beach Hotel is in the process of being renovated and enlarged by Queenco Leisure International; when that’s done, ground-breaking is set to begin on an enormous Queenco resort on the empty beach next to the Victory Beach Hotel.
As is true on just about every beach in Sihanoukville, what’s written about it this year will be out of date next year, so stay tuned for updates.Last updated: 31st March, 2015
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