Back in 2015 I wrote a post about the lost bars of Phnom Penh that seemed to elicit a lot of recollections. Since that post was made several more well known bars closed there doors. Another post on those bars is now due. First I’ll report on the lost massage parlors of Phnom Penh.
Cambodia like Thailand is filled with massage parlors of all kinds. There is no possible way for one person to keep track of the comings and goings of every single massage parlor in the country. I can however report on closures and disappearances of some of the most significant massage parlors offering sexual services in Cambodia’s capital city.
Panda Massage which is not to be confused with Panda Mart was a longtime favorite of many Westerners who either lived in or visited Phnom Penh. Located on Street 240 not far from the infamous Golden Sorya Mall the place had a staff made up of several Khmer and Vietnamese women who offered full body massages and more.
Panda Massage looked a lot like a house. That’s probably because it operated inside of a converted residence just like many other businesses in the city do.
There were always some small dogs in the Panda Massage lobby. Usually they were off to the left of the entrance where they were either tied up with a leash or penned up in a cage. They barked at nearly everyone who came in and out of the place. That may be because they wanted attention. Judging by the massive amount of dog urine that could always be found flowing under their feet they weren’t getting much of that.
Massages at Panda took place in converted rooms with high ceilings. Things were relatively clean even if the lobby was not. Each room had a solid massage table and some of the women were actually quite good at doing body rubs. Most of the women at Panda offered handjobs but a few offered more than that. It wasn’t uncommon for customers to purchase sex at Panda and the women on staff who offered full service even carried their own condoms.
Panda offered legitimate services too. At least some western women went there for massages and apparently their rub downs didn’t come with happy endings.
Panda Massage was open until at least 2016 and possibly later than that. The building is still there but the massage parlor is not. I don’t know what it is being used for today. The parts of the building that used to have Panda Massage signs have been painted over and the front remains locked up except when a security guard goes in or out.
I reported on Paradis a few months ago. When that report was published Paradis was already on its last legs. Once a thriving karaoke and massage establishment on Street 136, Paradis ended up as a half-assed attempt at a mainstream massage shop. When that didn’t work it closed up for good.
At the moment there are several for sale signs hanging out front of Paradis. I don’t know who will buy the place but I don’t imagine the new owner will operate another adult oriented business in the building. Another coffee shop or perhaps even a guest house is probably more likely.
Located in an old dingy building with the door set back from the street 53 Massage was a busy little shop on Street 113. There was a parking area under the awning in the front so that customers could pull their motorbikes in away from prying eyes.
The front of the shop was marked by signage in Khmer and English that also displayed the prices. A one hour massage in a room with a fan was $3 USD. The same massage in a room with an air conditioner was $5.
In reality the rooms were all terrible looking. The “fan rooms” were actually small booths carved out of a larger room upstairs. The air conditioner rooms were private bed rooms with filthy blown out beds in them.
A handful of women hung out in the living room turned lobby at 53 Massage when they weren’t servicing clients. When a customer showed up they would join them in the room of their choice upstairs.
A male manager was usually around too. He organized things and took payment at the end unless customers simply handed all the money over to their masseuse.
There may have been some legitimate massages going on at 53 Massage but it seems pretty unlikely. The Khmer women in their early twenties who worked at the place offered sex to customers for a small fee almost immediately after sessions began. They mostly serviced locals but foreigners from around the world also patronized the place. The usual tip customers paid for sex was around ten dollars. That did not include the room fee.
Several of the women regularly offered full service without a condom. That could not have been good for them or the customers used their services.
53 Massage was open for years. At some point it seemed to change ownership. The building fell further into disrepair towards the end. Then one day it was gone.
The closure of 53 Massage was no great loss to anyone. There are still countless massage parlors in the city that operate on the same model. It is mentioned here as it was a good example of this type of place and reporting on a closed shop doesn’t put anyone at risk.