Expats living in Sihanoukville have usually been drawn there by the beautiful scenery and growing tourism industry. Both the city and surrounding province of the same name are fairly new, established in 1955 after Cambodia had gained its independence from France in 1953. The city was named after the ruling king of the time Norodom Sihanouk and its nickname “The Jaws of the Lion” is derived from Sanskrit through two Pali words, which translate as lion (Siha) and jaws (Hanu). Historically, the city is known as the site of the last battle of the US war in Vietnam but nowadays is better known for its golden beaches. Victory beach has been a well-known backpacker destination for many years, and Independence beach, named after the Independence Hotel, has also always drawn many tourists to its shores. In recent years, there has been a large influx in expatriate activity in this area, although a more basic and traditional Cambodian way of life can always be found at the nearby old fishing port of Kampong Pier Nup Lok that offers glorious views of the region and stunning sunsets.
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Sihanoukville International Airport is only 18km from downtown, providing a fairly easy way for expats planning on moving to Sihanoukville to access the region. However, relocating to a foreign country can bring a large number of concerns such as visas, language barriers, and culture shock. The cultural differences in Sihanoukville can be vast, especially when compared to a western lifestyle, with few similar religious or cultural festivals, and an entirely different written alphabet and language. However, the growing number of expats in Sihanoukville and the surrounding area means that it is possible to share familiar celebrations, communication styles, and cultural activities with people who share a similar national identity with you. Through InterNations online expat network you can use social networking to connect with such other expatriates before you even get to Sihanoukville and get advice on topics such as geography and environment or food and drink.
Most expats living in Sihanoukville work in the tourism industry and therefore interact with a wide variety of cultures and languages on a daily basis. There are, however, other forms of industry in the region with the majority of the city’s economic activity being based in import and export. Industries such as fishing, aquaculture, mining, and factories also provide local job opportunities. Working in Sihanoukville, or elsewhere for that matter, as a foreign national always produces unique challenges such as navigating visa requirements and insurance applications, especially if you have a family that is relocating with you. InterNations ‘Expat Magazine can provide useful information on topics such as international finance, cross-cultural communication, and moving abroad with a family. In addition to these articles, you can also find content written by fellow expatriates sharing their firsthand experiences of life abroad.