New Water Park in Sihanoukville

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The four kids in our household have been hanging out for the opening of the new water park in Sihanoukville ever since the day I foolishly pointed it out to them a couple of months ago. Well, the big day came just two days ago when free entry was offered for its opening day.

at water park1

Since I had to work, we couldn’t go until the afternoon. That’s probably just as well, because if we had gone in the morning, the kids would have wanted to stay all day. As it was, they had a great time for a couple of hours until the sun started to set.

I was a little worried because our kids are so young and the place was packed. As chaotic as it looked, though, no one was pushing or shoving and teenagers and adults always gave the little kids the right of way.

Only the pool is completely finished. They’re still working on the landscaping and a big cement ship in the front is only about half-built. We had to drive around the back to get in and inch our motorbikes through loose dirt and rocks to find a place to park. By the beginning of the next tourist season, work should be completed and we’ll have to fork over money to get in. Early reports say adults will pay $5 and children $3. That means it’ll cost us $22 every time we go there. The kids have us booked for every Sunday into the indefinite future.

Sihanoukville is Changing

I’ve been saying it for years and the water park is just more proof: Sihanoukville is changing. It’s always been popular with Cambodian families, but more foreign tourists are coming here with their children every year. The first few years I lived here, I rarely saw middle-aged or older couples and never families. Then I started seeing a few. Now I see them so often, it’s no longer noteworthy.

At the same time, the new police chief is determined to crack down on crime. An absurdly rich Russian man who has lived here for over a decade was recently arrested for fraud and bail was denied. After the new police chief started work, he called in the military to make their presence felt and I’m told he’s making individual police take their job seriously or lose it. A British backpacker was arrested on drug charges just the other day, so the word is out: Sihanoukville is not going to be a party town for wasted backpackers any more.

As I’ve repeatedly reported, Sihanoukville is not nearly as dangerous or seedy as the media and some bloggers make it out to be. There are pockets of seediness, but there are larger pockets of nice family beaches, mainly frequented by Cambodian families. Unfortunately, the worst areas are the ones where backpackers hang out, so those who come here for a day or two and think they know everything about the “scene” in Sihanoukville keep the wild west “Snookyville” image alive. Their days may be numbered, though. They are in the minority now and everyone from businesses to the local authorities are trying to make this a family destination. I hope they succeed.

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About Rob Schneider

Rob Schneider is a writer based in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where he has lived since 2006.
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4 Responses to New Water Park in Sihanoukville

  1. nic says:

    I moved to Sihanoukville 7 months ago with my husband and daughter.we love it! So excited the water park is open!

  2. Donna says:

    Good article! Do you have any other recent information ? Do you have information about apartments and how to go about owning one? Much of the information I have read has been quite negative (which makes me laugh, because if the place was that bad why are they still living there?)

    • A lot of the critics are barstool critics who insist they’re right even when they’re dead wrong. I foolishly tried to argue with them on Facebook a few times, but finally left the expats and locals FB page because they were so annoying. Some Asian property magazines have really been pushing condominiums in Phnom Penh lately. For some reason, they haven’t caught on in Sihanoukville even though there are some nice ones. I guess I wouldn’t recommend buying one unless the others were selling as well. If the occupancy rate is low, they tend to start looking worn because there’s no money for maintenance. Nice thing about apartments and condos is foreigners can own second story units outright.

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