Saturday, 2 June 2012

Top Beaches in Southeast Asia

1)  Phuket Island 

Phuket, which is approximately the size of Singapore, is Thailand’s largest island. The island is connected to mainland Thailand by two bridges. It is situated off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Phuket formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoys a rich and colorful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign ship logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traders. The region now derives much of its income from tourism.

In the 17th century, the Dutch, English, and after the 1680s the French, competed for the opportunity to trade with the island of Phuket (then known as Junkseilon), which was a very rich source of tin. In September 1680, a ship of the French East India Company visited Phuket and left with a full cargo of tin. A year or two later, the Siamese King Narai, seeking to reduce Dutch and English influence, named as governor of Phuket a French medical missionary, Brother René Charbonneau, a member of the Siam mission of the Société des Missions Etrangères. Charbonneau remained as governor until 1685.
In 1685, King Narai confirmed the French tin monopoly in Phuket to their ambassador, the Chevalier de Chaumont. Chaumont's former maître d'hôtel, Sieur de Billy, was named governor of the island. However, the French were expelled from Siam after the 1688 Siamese revolution. On April 10, 1689, Desfarges led an expedition to re-capture Phuket to restore some French control in Siam. His occupation of the island led to nothing, and Desfarges returned to Pondicherry in January 1690.
The Burmese attacked Phuket in 1785. Francis Light, a British East India Company captain passing by the island, notified the local administration that he had observed Burmese forces preparing to attack. Than Phu Ying Chan, the wife of the recently deceased governor, and her sister Mook (คุณมุก) assembled what local forces they could. After a month-long siege of the capital city, the Burmese were forced to retreat March 13, 1785. The women became local heroines, receiving the royal titles Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Si Sunthon from a grateful King Rama I. During the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V), Phuket became the administrative center of the tin-producing southern provinces. In 1933 Monthon Phuket  was dissolved and Phuket became a province by itself. Old names of the island include Ko Thalang.

Patong Beach click to visit
Patong beach is one of the most accommodating beaches on Phuket Island. You can head west from downtown Phuket and travel about 12 km to this crescent-shaped beach. If you're the quiet type, you can opt to sit out in the sun, in a little quiet corner – take out your favorite book, have a Thai massage or play with your braids. If you're the active type, you can ride jet skis or inflatable boats, sail, play beach volleyball or dive. The beach is lined with hotels, shopping malls, and a variety of entertainment and water sports centers. Of course, there are also big-name restaurants, seafood palaces and outdoor bars lining Phuket Island. The Phuket lobster are recommended as they are fresh, juicy, and a total seafood delight.

2) Boracay Island

Boracay is a small island of the Philippines located approximately 315 km (196 mi) south of Manila and 2 km off the northwest tip of Panay Island in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. Boracay Island and its beaches have received awards for their world-class attractiveness to visitors. The name Boracay is attributed to different origins. One story says that it is derived from the local word "borac" which means white cotton with characteristics close to the color and texture of Boracay's white sugary and powdery sand. Another credits the name to local words "bora," meaning bubbles, and "bocay," meaning white. Yet another version dating back to the Spanish era says the name is derived from "sagay," the word for shell, and "boray," the word for seed. The island comprises the barangays of Manoc-Manoc, Balabag, and Yapak (3 of the 17 barangays which make up the municipality of Malay), and is under the administrative control of the Philippine Tourism Authority in coordination with the Provincial Government of Aklan.
Boracay was originally home to the Ati tribe. Boracay is part of Aklan Province, which became an independent province on April 25, 1956.

Sofia Gonzales Tirol and her husband Lamberto Hontiveros Tirol, a town judge on nearby Panay island, took ownership of substantial properties on the island around 1900 and planted coconuts, fruit trees, and greenery on the island. Others followed the Tirols, and cultivation and development of the island gradually spread from this initial beginning. Tourism came to the island beginning in about the 1970s. The movie Too Late the Hero was filmed in 1970 on locations in Boracay and Caticlan. In the 1980s, the island became popular as a budget destination for backpackers, By the 1990s, Boracay's beaches were being acclaimed as the best in the world. In 2012, the Philippine Department of Tourism reported that Boracay had been named the world's second best beach after Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Boracay Island click to visit
Boracay Island was named one of the world's seven most beautiful island beaches and is located in Aklan Province in the Philippines. Boracay Island stretches long and slender and is home to many of the world's best tropical beaches. Clusters of bars and recreation facilities make Boracay an ideal spot to socialize and network with locals and tourists alike. At the same time, the fine-grain sand and the clear blue waters make this place the most serene paradise on Earth. Boracay also offers all the excitements of water sports and wild night life, coupled with blue seas and skies, white sand, and coconut trees as far as the eye can see. When in Boracay, there is enough to keep you entertained for hours on end.

3) Trang
Trang  is one of the southern provinces Changwat of Thailand, on the western side of the Malay Peninsula facing the Andaman Sea. Neighboring provinces are (from north clockwise) Krabi, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Phatthalung and Satun. Trang was formerly a port involved in foreign trade. It was the first place where rubber was planted in Thailand. Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahison Phakdi brought rubber saplings from Malaysia and planted them here in 1899, and rubber is now an important export of the country. The Trang River flows through the province from its origin in the Khao Luang mountain range, and the Palian River flows from the Banthat mountains. The province of Trang has an area of approximately 5,000 square km.
Trang was an important sea port of southern Thailand. Legend says the ships always arrived in the morning, which led to the town's name - Trang derives from the Malay word for "light' (Terang). The province was once a part of the ancient Kedah Tua Kingdom - A Kedahan-Malay kingdom.
According to cultural records Trang was be one of 12 satellite towns that existed about 900 years ago, but it was during the reign of King Rama II that the province got its first governor. The first Westerner to arrive in Trang was Captain James Low, who came in 1838 to negotiate commercial benefits.
The original town was located in Khuanthani (now a tambon in district Kantang). In 1893, the governor, Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahison Phakdi, also known as Khaw Sim Bee na Ranong, decided to make Trang an important seaport and relocated the town to Kantang district on the Trang River delta. It was moved again to its present location 26 km inland in 1916 by King Rama VI dbecause of repeated floodings.
Trang was the first area of Thailand where rubber trees were planted, brought there by governor Phraya Ratsadanupradit Mahison Phakdi from British Malaya in 1899.

Ko Kradan Beach click to visit
Located in Thailand's southwest province of Trang, Ko Kradan Island can be reached by boat in about 40 minutes from the main peninsula. Ko Kradan is one of the most beautiful beaches near Trang. Most of the island is managed by local national park authorities, and they oversee the rubber and coconut tree plantations, as well as the native flora that surrounds the island. Ko Kradan beach has the beautiful white sand along the shore to compliment the deep blue waters – coral reefs and tropical fishes dance just beneath. The beach is also a popular spot for couples looking to get married underwater.

4) Ko Samui
Ko Samui island of Surat Thani Province or often, simply Samui as it is referred to by locals, is an island off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus in Thailand, close to the mainland Surat Thani town and in Surat Thani Province. It is Thailand's second largest island after Phuket, with an area of 228.7 km2 and a population of over 50,000 (2008) attracting 1.5 million tourists per year. It is rich with natural resources, white sandy beaches, coral reefs and coconut trees.

The island was probably first inhabited about 15 centuries ago, settled by fishermen from the Malay Peninsula  and Southern China. It appears on Chinese maps dating back to 1687, under the name Pulo Cornam. The name Samui is mysterious in itself. Perhaps it is an extension of the name of one of the native trees, mui, or from the Malay word Saboey, meaning "safe haven"[citation needed]. Ko is the Thai word for "island".
Until the late 20th century, Ko Samui was an isolated self-sufficient community, having little connection with the mainland of Thailand. The island was even without roads until the early 1970s, and the 15 km journey from one side of the island to the other involved a whole-day trek through the mountainous central jungles.
Ko Samui has a population of about fifty-five thousand (source: Samui Mayor's Office) and is based primarily on a successful tourist industry, as well as exports of coconut and rubber. It even has its own international airport, Samui Airport, with flights daily to Bangkok and other major airports in Southeast Asia such as Hong Kong and Singapore. Whilst the island presents an unspoiled image to the public perception, economic growth has brought not only prosperity, but changes to the island's environment and culture, a source of conflict between local residents and migrants from other parts of Thailand and other countries. Reflecting Samui's growth as a tourist destination, the Cunard ship MS Queen Victoria (a 2000-plus passenger ship) docked at Samui during its 2008 world cruise.

 Chaweng Beach, click to visit
Chaweng beach, a crescent-shaped beach stretching 4 km, is located on the third largest island of Thailand, the Samui Island. There are numerous scenic spots and water sports centers renting wind-sailing and diving equipments here. Because the beach stretches for a good 4 km, you won't feel the least crowded, even with the large number of tourists present; the meandering shore, silver-white sand, and the serene blues of the water are all elements of the perfect resorting spot you seek. Hotels and other recreation centers are built right by the seaside scenery choices range from luxurious hotels to economical huts and inns.

Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. It is one of the country's 33 provinces with the provincial capital at Denpasar towards the south of the island. The province covers a few small neighbouring islands as well as the isle of Bali.
With a population recorded as 3,891,428 in the 2010 census, the island is home to most of Indonesia's Hindu minority. In the 2000 census about 92.29% of Bali's population adhered to Balinese Hinduism while most of the remainder follow Islam. It is also the largest tourist destination in the country and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music. Bali, a tourist haven for decades, has seen a further surge in tourist numbers in recent years.

Bali was inhabited by around 2000 BC by Austronesian peoples who migrated originally from Taiwan through Maritime Southeast Asia. Culturally and linguistically, the Balinese are thus closely related to the peoples of the Indonesian archipelago, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Oceania. Stone tools dating from this time have been found near the village of Cekik in the island's west. In ancient Bali, nine Hindu sects existed, namely Pasupata, Bhairawa, Siwa Shidanta, Waisnawa, Bodha, Brahma, Resi, Sora and Ganapatya. Each sect revered a specific deity as its personal Godhead.

Balinese culture was strongly influenced by Indian, Chinese, and particularly Hindu culture, beginning around the 1st century AD. The name Bali dwipa ("Bali island") has been discovered from various inscriptions, including the Blanjong pillar inscription written by Sri Kesari Warmadewa in 914 AD and mentioning "Walidwipa". It was during this time that the complex irrigation system subak was developed to grow rice. Some religious and cultural traditions still in existence today can be traced back to this period. The Hindu Majapahit Empire (1293–1520 AD) on eastern Java founded a Balinese colony in 1343. When the empire declined, there was an exodus of intellectuals, artists, priests, and musicians from Java to Bali in the 15th century.

Tanah Lot, one of the major temples in Bali

The first European contact with Bali is thought to have been made in 1585 when a Portuguese ship foundered off the Bukit Peninsula and left a few Portuguese in the service of Dewa Agung. In 1597 the Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman arrived at Bali and, with the establishment of the Dutch East India Company in 1602, the stage was set for colonial control two and a half centuries later when Dutch control expanded across the Indonesian archipelago throughout the second half of the nineteenth century (see Dutch East Indies). Dutch political and economic control over Bali began in the 1840s on the island's north coast, when the Dutch pitted various distrustful Balinese realms against each other. In the late 1890s, struggles between Balinese kingdoms in the island's south were exploited by the Dutch to increase their control.
The Dutch mounted large naval and ground assaults at the Sanur region in 1906 and were met by the thousands of members of the royal family and their followers who fought against the superior Dutch force in a suicidal puputan defensive assault rather than face the humiliation of surrender. Despite Dutch demands for surrender, an estimated 1,000 Balinese marched to their death against the invaders. In the Dutch intervention in Bali (1908), a similar massacre occurred in the face of a Dutch assault in Klungkung. Afterwards the Dutch governors were able to exercise administrative control over the island, but local control over religion and culture generally remained intact. Dutch rule over Bali came later and was never as well established as in other parts of Indonesia such as Java and Maluku.
In the 1930s, anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, and artists Miguel Covarrubias and Walter Spies, and musicologist Colin McPhee created a western image of Bali as "an enchanted land of aesthetes at peace with themselves and nature", and western tourism first developed on the island.

Balinese dancers show for tourists, in Ubud.

Imperial Japan occupied Bali during World War II. Bali Island was not originally a target in their Netherlands East Indies Campaign, but as the airfields on Borneo were inoperative due to heavy rains the Imperial Japanese Army decided to occupy Bali, which did not suffer from comparable weather. The island had no regular Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) troops. There was only a Native Auxiliary Corps Prajoda (Korps Prajoda) consisting of about 600 native soldiers and several Dutch KNIL officers under command of KNIL Lieutenant Colonel W.P. Roodenburg. On 19 February 1942 the Japanese forces landed near the town of Senoer. The island was quickly captured.
During the Japanese occupation a Balinese military officer, Gusti Ngurah Rai, formed a Balinese 'freedom army'. The lack of institutional changes from the time of Dutch rule however, and the harshness of war requisitions made Japanese rule little better than the Dutch one. Following Japan's Pacific surrender in August 1945, the Dutch promptly returned to Indonesia, including Bali, immediately to reinstate their pre-war colonial administration. This was resisted by the Balinese rebels now using Japanese weapons. On 20 November 1946, the Battle of Marga was fought in Tabanan in central Bali. Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai, by then 29 years old, finally rallied his forces in east Bali at Marga Rana, where they made a suicide attack on the heavily armed Dutch. The Balinese battalion was entirely wiped out, breaking the last thread of Balinese military resistance. In 1946 the Dutch constituted Bali as one of the 13 administrative districts of the newly proclaimed State of East Indonesia, a rival state to the Republic of Indonesia which was proclaimed and headed by Sukarno and Hatta. Bali was included in the "Republic of the United States of Indonesia" when the Netherlands recognised Indonesian independence on 29 December 1949.

The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung killed thousands, created economic havoc and forced many displaced Balinese to be transmigrated to other parts of Indonesia. Mirroring the widening of social divisions across Indonesia in the 1950s and early 1960s, Bali saw conflict between supporters of the traditional caste system, and those rejecting these traditional values. Politically, this was represented by opposing supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI), with tensions and ill-feeling further increased by the PKI's land reform programs. An attempted coup in Jakarta was put down by forces led by General Suharto. The army became the dominant power as it instigated a violent anti-communist purge, in which the army blamed the PKI for the coup. Most estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people were killed across Indonesia, with an estimated 80,000 killed in Bali, equivalent to 5% of the island's population. With no Islamic forces involved as in Java and Sumatra, upper-caste PNI landlords led the extermination of PKI members.
As a result of the 1965/66 upheavals, Suharto was able to manoeuvre Sukarno out of the presidency, and his "New Order" government reestablished relations with western countries. The pre-War Bali as "paradise" was revived in a modern form, and the resulting large growth in tourism has led to a dramatic increase in Balinese standards of living and significant foreign exchange earned for the country. A bombing in 2002 by militant Islamists in the tourist area of Kuta killed 202 people, mostly foreigners. This attack, and another in 2005, severely affected tourism, bringing much economic hardship to the island, although tourist numbers have now returned to levels before the bombings.

 Jimbaran Beach, Indonesia click to visit
Jimbaran Beach is located on the beautiful island resort of Bali in Indonesia. It is one of the most hospitable and cozy beaches on the island famous for its beautiful sunsets and preserved livelihood and culture of the local fishermen. Acts of commercialization did not dampen the spirit and old ways of the local villagers the least bit, instead they brought their generosity and hospitality with them whenever and wherever they encounter tourists. There are also rows of restaurants and hotels to accommodate vacationers from all over the globe. the seafood stand set up on the beach every night is one of the main attractions for tourists visiting Jimbaran Beach. You can sit and watch the beautiful sunset while listening to folk songs with the light breeze on your back, the flickering candlelight in front, and the beautiful starry skies above. What could be a more perfect dining setting than that? And most importantly, crates and crates full of fish, lobster, oysters, crabs, and squids line up in front of grills by the stands – delicious scent of saucy grilled seafood filled your nostrils and tantalize your appetite.

6) Kuta

Kuta is administratively a district (kecamatan) and subdistrict/village (kelurahan) in southern Bali, Indonesia. A former fishing village, it was one of the first towns on Bali to see substantial tourist development, and as a beach resort remains one of Indonesia's major tourist destinations. It is known internationally for its long sandy beach, varied accommodation, many restaurants and bars, and many renowned surfers who visit from Australia. It is located near Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport. Kuta was the site of the October 12, 2002 1st Bali bombing (202 killed) and the October 1, 2005 2nd Bali bombing (26 killed).

The Balinese Provincial Government have taken the view that the preservation of the Balinese culture, natural resources and wildlife are of primary importance in the development of the island. To this end they have limited tourist development to the peninsula on the extreme southern aspect of the island; Kuta beach is on the western side of this peninsula and Sanur is on the east. To the north of the peninsula no new tourist development is supposedly permitted.

Bali bombing memorial

After the first Bali Bombing in 2002 at Kuta, a permanent memorial was built on the site of the destroyed Paddy's Pub on Legian Street. (A new bar, named "Paddy's: Reloaded", was reopened further along Legian Street.) The memorial is made of intricately carved stone, set with a large marble plaque, which bears the names and nationalities of each of those killed. It is flanked by the national flags of the victims. The monument is well-maintained and illuminated at night.
The memorial was dedicated on 12 October 2004, the second anniversary of the attack. The dedication included a Balinese Hindu ceremony and the opportunity for mourners to lay flowers and other offerings. The Australian ambassador and Indonesian officials attended the ceremony as most of the victims were Australians.
The Balinese mark their commitment in a nine-day long event. After major cleansing ceremonies, establishing a memorial for the lost lives, and paying respect to those who left loved ones behind, the people of Kuta look forward to restoring Bali’s image through an event named "Kuta Karnival  A Celebration of Life”. The community event consists of traditional art performances such as Balinese Sunset Dances, sports on the beach as well as in the water for young and old plus rows and rows of culinary displays along the one kilometre of sandy beach.
In line with the return of tourism to Kuta, Kuta Karnival has grown into a tourism promotional event with major coverage from television and newspapers from across the globe. Companies, embassies, Non-Government Organizations, associations and even individuals come forth to get involved in the various events such as a Balinese dance competition presented by a surf-wear company, an environment exhibition presented by an embassy, a fun cycle presented by a group of individuals, a seminar presented by an association and a parade on the streets presented by an NGO. Tourists and locals alike, more than ninety thousand people participates in the numerous events, year after year.
A repeated tragedy in Bali in 2005 did not reduce the Kuta community’s determination to carry out this annual event. Kuta Karnival is conducted to commemorate and give respect to the victims of human violence and show the world the true spirit of local community survival despite terrorism attacks.

To the south, Kuta Beach extends beyond the airport into Jimbaran. Other nearby towns and villages include Seseh (6.4 nm), Denpasar (4.5 nm), Ujung (1.8 nm), Pesanggaran (2.0 nm), Kedonganan (2.9 nm) and Tuban (1.0 nm)
Kuta District (Indonesian:Kecamatan Kuta) covers subdistricts/villages (Indonesian:Kelurahan/Desa) of Kuta Village, Legian, Seminyak, Kedonganan, and Tuban. Furthermore Badung Regency has 3 districts with the name Kuta: Kuta, Kuta South District Kecamatan Kuta Selatan (Jimbaran and the whole Nusa Dua peninsula), and Kuta North District Kecamatan Kuta Utara (villages of Kerobokan Klod, Kerobokan, Kerobokan Kaja, Tibu Beneng, Canggu and Dalung).
Kuta is now the center of an extensive tourist-oriented urban area that merges into the neighboring towns. Legian, to the north, is the commercial hub of Kuta and the site of many restaurants and entertainment spots. Most of the area's big beachfront hotels are in the southern section of Tuban.
Legian and Seminyak are northern extensions of Kuta along Jl. Legian and Jl. Basangkasa. They are somewhat quieter suburbs with cottage-style accommodations, where many of the expat crowd live. Also to the north are Petitenget, Berawa, Canggu, and Seseh new and quieter continuations of Kuta's beach. They are easy to reach through Abian Timbul or Denpasar and Kerobokan. Several large hotels are located in this area: the Oberoi Bali, Hard Rock Hotel Bali, the Intan Bali Village, the Legian in Petitenget, the Dewata Beach and the Bali Sani Suites in Berawa.

Kuta Beach  click to visit
This is one of the hot spots for tourists traveling to Bali. Kuta Island used to be a little remote village but is now one of the major attractions in Indonesia. Kuta is also said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Bali. Here the waves are high and the wind is fierce, attracting surfers from afar. There is also a busy commercial street lining the beach, offering an array of Bali traditional craft and culture products. Attracted by money and the tourist commerce, sex and prostitution also permeate in Kuta amongst all the merry-making.

7) Sanur, 
Sanur Indonesian is a coastal stretch of beach of Denpasar city of southeast Bali, about 30 minutes drive from Ngurah Rai International Airport, which has grown into a little town in its own right. The northern part of Sanur beach was used as the landing site for the Dutch invasion troops during the Dutch intervention in Bali (1906). During World War II, Sanur was again the entry point through which the Japanese forces landed to occupy the island of Bali. Today Sanur contains a number of resorts such as the Medina and Bali Hyatt (not to be confused with the Grand Hyatt in Nusa Dua) and is a popular tourist destination.

Sanur Beach click to visit
Sanur beach was one of the earliest developed resort beaches on Bali and is located 7 km to the east of Denpasar city. Sanur also used to be a remote village, but was selected for its natural scenic beauty and quickly developed into one of the three largest resorting beaches near Denpasar city. For those looking for a quiet downtime, Sanur is the spot for you. There is also an array of five-star hotels and garden inns for first-class relaxation here. In Sanur, you can observe the noises over in Kuta and also watch your beautiful sunset in peace. Nightlife in Sanur comes with its own varieties, local disco dance halls and live concerts in pubs offer all the speaker noise and moving lights you need. If you prefer exciting water sports, Sanur also offers water motorcycles and banana boats for rental, and is one of the better places for snorkeling and underwater diving because of the cleaner waters. If you like to golf, there is also a Bali Beach Golf Course to the north side, offering beautiful greens at equally attractive low prices.

Langkawi, officially known as Langkawi, the Jewel of Kedah (Malay: Langkawi Permata Kedah) is an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea, some 30 km off the mainland coast of northwestern Malaysia. The islands are a part of the state of Kedah, which is adjacent to the Thai border. On July 15, 2008, Sultan Abdul Halim of Kedah had consented to the change of name to Langkawi Permata Kedah in conjunction with his Golden Jubilee Celebration. By far the largest of the islands is the eponymous Pulau Langkawi with a population of some 64,792, the only other inhabited island being nearby Pulau Tuba. Langkawi is also an administrative district with the town of Kuah as largest town. Langkawi is a duty-free island. Langkawi was traditionally thought to be cursed. However, in 1986 then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad decided to transform it into a tourist resort, helping to plan many of the islands buildings himself.

Pantai Chenang Beach, click to visit
Pantai Chenang is one of the most beautiful beaches on Langkawi Island in Malaysia, attracting numerous vacationing Europeans each year. Pentai Chenang also comes with clear blue waters and tropical seaside scenery – modern accommodations and recreation centers renting motorboats and speedboats can also be found here. The beach also offers a variety of luxury hotels and local huts for your choice of room and board. Of course, Malaysian restaurants offering seafood delicacies and delights are not to be missed.


Sihanoukville  also known as Kampong Saom, is a province (khaet) of 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. The flights are scheduled to start on December 14, 2011.

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.
As the newest Cambodian city, Sihanoukville doesn't have a long history like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. It was founded in 1960 after independence from France as a port, in order to communicate the city with international trade. The project was overseen by the government of Norodom Sihanouk. The construction of the port began in 1955 and most of the families of the builders remained near the port, effectively becoming the first inhabitants.

During the Vietnam War, it became an intensive military port first in the service of National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam and after 1970, with the regime of General Lon Nol, at the service of the United States. With the success of the Khmer Rouge guerrillas in April 1975, the port was the last place to be evacuated by the US army. The SS Mayagüez was captured by militants of the new regime on 12 May. The US claimed that the ship was on international sea lanes, but the Khmer Rouge said that it was on Cambodian territory. It is known as the Mayagüez incident. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, the port of Sihanoukville recovered a great importance in the development of the country. With the opening of markets in 1999, the port became one of the main spots of economical growing of Cambodia. In December 1999, Formosa Plastics bribed Cambodian officials and dumped 3000 tons of mercury laden waste into Sihanoukville, killing 3 people. Formosa Plastics also tried to dump the waste in the Nevada, USA.

Otres Beach click to visit 
Easily one of the prettiest beaches in the Sihanoukville area, Otres Beach is perfect for those on a tight budget. Guesthouses and local restaurants line the unspoilt beach, with rooms starting from $10 per night. Otres Beach is still the quiet, hard to get to beach, but it's started to boom this season.  Otres Nautica has a restaurant and all kinds of boats for rent (you drive, sail, paddle, or captain yourself). 
Hurricane Windsurfing has a selection of bodyboards, windsurfing boards and other water sports equipment. Otres is quite quiet now, and the best beach for relaxation, but this won't last forever. You can walk about 20 to 30 minutes from Ocheteaul Beach along the ocean, or take a motorcycle in back of the "Golf Course" and back to the ocean.  By car and Tuk Tuk is possible, but the route is longer.  Best to get back before nighttime if you're not staying at night, as there are no lights on the road.

10) Pulau Pangkor
Pulau Pangkor is an island off the coast of Perak in north-west peninsular Malaysia, reached by ferry from Lumut (a small coastal town that links to Ipoh, or from Sitiawan). It has a land area of only 8 square kilometers, and a population of approximately 25,000 islanders. It is heavily promoted as a low-key tourist destination by the Malaysian government, but fishing and fish products remain major industries.
Historically, Pangkor was a refuge for local fishermen, merchants and pirates. In the 17th century, the Dutch built a fort in an effort to control the Perak tin trade. In 1874, it was the location of a historic treaty between the British government and a contender for the Perak throne (The Pangkor Treaty), which began the British colonial domination of the Malay Peninsula.

Pangkor is famous for its fine beaches and a mix of low budget to 5 star accommodations. Teluk Nipah and Coral Bay on the north west of the island is extremely popular with travellers from Europe. The quality of sand in the Pasir Bogak Beach is far superior to that elsewhere on the island. The sand is golden brown, quite similar to most leading prime beaches. There are a few resorts in Teluk Nipah or Nipah Bay.
Since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in Indonesia, Thailand and to a lesser extent the West Coast of Malaysia in December 2004, there have been fewer local tourists visiting Pangkor.

In 2006, a biotechnology centre, a joint venture of Global Hi-Q Malaysia S/B and Hi-Q Bio-Tech International (Taiwan) Ltd began operations with initial investments of RM100million (USD30m). Their operations include fish farming and aquaculture, and the first harvest is expected in 2009. Just next to island of Pangkor, there is a smaller island called Pangkor Laut Island.

Teluk Nipah click to visit
Teluk Nipah is one of the most popular beaches on Pangkor Island. The pristine setting offers beautiful corals for snorkeling and stunning sunsets. This beautiful beach is located some 20 minutes from Pangkor main jetty. Taxi van ride will cost your about RM10-RM15 per van. From Pangkor Island Beach Resort, the journey takes about 10 minutes. Nipah Bay to be the cleanest beach in Pangkor. Pasir Bogak might be the most famous stretch of beach but it is crowded and can be murky. The waters around Nipah Bay are fairly clear. Although I do feel that Golden Sands Beach offers more privacy due its more secluded location. Some 20 minutes of kayaking shall bring you to the smaller islands of Giam and Mentagor fronting the beach. Giam Island also has a decent beach for picnicking and relaxing. There are plenty of food stalls by the beach in Nipah Bay, hence finding something to eat should not be a problem. 

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