Sihanoukville’s big gamble: the sleepy beach town in Cambodia that bet its future on Chinese money

Investment from China has brought huge change – and many casinos – to the former fishing village and backpacker favourite.

Sihanoukville may be more than 3,500km away from Beijing, but it feels more like a Chinese city than a sleepy beach town in Cambodia.

Everywhere, people can be heard speaking in Mandarin. Chinese restaurants have sprung up on dusty roads where huge construction sites – including many hotels and casinos – now dominate the skyline.

This former fishing village in the country’s southwest used to be a favourite of backpackers. Now it is booming, and much of the development is being driven by Chinese money.

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