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In recent years, more and more young tourists have turned their alcohol-fuelled attention away from the Thai islands, to Cambodia's coastal towns. Although the largest town of Sihanoukville has a reputation of being a party place (with a seedy side), there are still corners of charm and nearby stretches of sand that haven't been claimed by the crowds.

Located a four-hour drive away from the capital, Sihanoukville is considered by many young people to be the ultimate beach backpacker paradise, thanks to its nightly parties and cheap beer.

There are also many opportunities in Sihanoukville when it comes to both employment and investment. Thanks to its natural beauty and resources, tourism and industry is thriving in the area, and it is not only easily accessible by road to Phnom Penh, but it also has the only international and commercial deep seaport in Cambodia, and is well connected via an international airport that is located 18km from the town centre. From here you can fly to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, and even take international flights to Ho Chi Minh, Tianjin and Hangzou.

Types of work

If you fall in love with the beach vibes down in “Snookys”, you shouldn't have much trouble finding work so that you can stay sandy for longer. However, in the south of Cambodia, work tends to be rather limited to one particular sector — tourism. From temporary work at beach bars and backpackers, to permanent positions at upmarket hotels and bungalow resorts, there's all sorts of work in this burgeoning field, and the eco-tourism sector is notably taking off too.

The kind of work available tends to revolve around the day-to-day upkeep of hostels and guesthouses, hotel management, bartending, sales jobs and promotional activities. Wages can vary depending on whether you're working in a top-end hotel or a backpacker hangout.

If you're not desperate for money and are happy to be compensated in food and lodging, then there are often opportunities in the south of Cambodia on work exchange websites, such as Work Away or Help X. These kind of jobs could involve anything from social media marketing or website design, to painting and yoga teaching.

Many bar jobs also come with the same deal — you may not get paid an actual salary, but in exchange for passing out fliers during the afternoon, pouring drinks over the course of an evening and basically being a professional party-starter, you'll often get free lodging, free food, and free drinks.

Speaking a European language, in addition to English, will definitely be to your advantage if you wish to work in whatever capacity at one of the numerous hotels, guesthouses, bars or restaurants in Sihanoukville, as it's a valuable skill that many local employees do not have.

And if working in hospitality and tourism isn't really your thing, there are also sometimes job opportunities in Sihanoukville at one of the NGOs (many are involved in child protection) or teaching English. However, there are far less of these down south than in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and wages will probably be lower or involve volunteering.

As Sihanoukville is relatively cheap (you can live on about US$15 a day) and most places have good WiFi connection, it's also a good place to do freelance work as a digital nomad to fund your seafood barbeque and UV glow addiction. Just watch out for your belongings as there is a high incidence of theft in Sihanoukville, and anything from your book to your laptop can easily go missing.

Finding a job

The simplest way to find a job in Sihanoukville is by making contacts and scouting around for opportunities when you're there. The town is small, so making connections is relatively easy, and you can get to grips with the lay of the land by renting a motorbike for a day.

In the rainy season, from June to October, the beaches are understandably a lot less populated, so some beach bars close during this period. However, if you don't mind a daily downpour, and are content with enjoying some of the town's other offerings when the clouds prevent you from sunbathing, it's also a more peaceful time to enjoy Sihanoukville, away from the masses. However, finding work during this time — especially at places geared towards budget travellers — may be more difficult. If you want to increase your odds of finding a job, it's best to start looking for work in the high season from November to May.

If you can't find work in downtown Sihanoukville, then head to the soft sand and hammocks of the islands off the coast, such as Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem, or try your luck at beaches further to the east of the main town, such as Otres or Sokha. You may even be keen to venture further afield to tranquil Kep and, if you can bear to leave the beach behind, the beautiful river town of Kampot is also fast becoming a hotspot for travellers and expats alike.

If you aren't in Sihanoukville yet but are keen to find work there, then it's worth browsing job websites and social networks to see if there are any positions available for which you'd like to apply. It's also worth joining relevant Facebook groups, such as the Sihanoukville Job Posting group or Employment in Sihanoukville, or community forums, such as expat.com.

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