A white sandy beach lined by countless coconut trees awaits travellers off Cambodia’s southwest coast in Koh Kong province’s Srae Ambel district, about 170km from Phnom Penh.
Over the past few years Nesat beach – a name inspired by a nearby fishing village – has seen more and more tourists surge to its shores after its popularity surged through pictures of its glorious scenery emerging on social media.
“Recently, Nesat beach has seen a large number of tourists arrive due to social media. As Sihanoukville has become a major spot for Chinese tourists, Cambodians have started to look elsewhere for quieter beaches,” says Soeung Sopheap, a manager at a small, nameless resort sitting on the beach.
High costs as a result of increased demand in Sihanoukville have forced low and medium-income tourists to shift away from the town’s main beaches Ou Chheuteal, Independence, Otres, Prek Treng and Prek Chak.
Watching his three children playing on the beach from distance, 45-year-old So Vuthy says he came to Srae Ambel district after a friend recommended it.
“Hotels and guesthouses in Sihanoukville are very, very expensive. It really affects lower income people who want to stay there during the holidays,” he says.
His first visit to Nesat beach, Vuthy says he has travelled to almost all 25 provinces, but he believes Srae Ambel district has the potential to become the next hot tourist destination in the Kingdom. But he adds that with more tourists should come greater responsibility to maintaining its beauty.
“Nesat beach has a great scenic view and it has every potential to attract tourists,” Vuthy says. “For us as real tourists, we can’t accept other people littering their waste on the beach. Both visitors and resort owners are to be blamed. Resorts do not organise well, especially with installing rubbish bins.”