Prostitution in Phnom Penh is like an open secret. There’s more of it around than the unassuming visitor knows. For those willing to pay for it, getting laid in Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh is about as difficult as getting wet in the ocean.
Today I will give you a brief overview of prostitution in Phnom Penh. Note that all prices in this report will be quoted in US dollars. That’s the de facto currency in the city for any major purchase. The local money is mainly used for change.
Massage parlors in Phnom Penh
Asian massage parlors have long been tied up in the adult industry. There are a number of massage parlors where customers can get extra services on the cheap. Some are designed for the sale of sex and nothing else, others serve up “extras” with the regular rub down. So it seems fitting to start there.
The “legitimate” massage parlors all over the city do not endorse any kind of extras. They are most especially concentrated in the areas tourists are most likely to frequent. Cheaper massage parlors in other parts of town can go either way.
At the legitimate massage shops body rubs go for 5 to 10 dollars. And the masseuse only gets half of that. So customers are sometimes asked if they want a happy ending even in these kinds of places. Extras are most commonly offered in private rooms during oil massages when the customers are fully nude under their towels. It used to be that this sort of thing was more common away from the riverside. But now there are even naughty massage parlors there among the touristic restaurants.
A standard tip for a regular massage is one dollar. Customers who get a hand finish typically tip five to ten. The rare few who score oral service normally tip a little more. Full service is only occasionally offered in these places. The women who do it usually start off asking for as much as fifty dollars. But typically they settle for thirty.
Since none of this is officially permitted customers and masseuses who partake have to be discreet. Intelligent customers don’t talk about extras or make a big deal over the larger than average tip they give their masseuse in front of coworkers or the boss.
There are also some fishbowl massage parlors. They are meant entirely for sex. They are usually located inside of big hotels or karaoke parlors. They charge five to ten dollars for a massage. The women who are mostly attractive expect thirty to one hundred dollars more for full service.
Freelance prostitutes and brothels
There are also freelance girls available to men with money around the clock in the seating area of Sorya Mall and on the walking area on the riverside. The Walkabout and Martinis used to be the most famous freelancer spots in the city. But those bars closed. Sharky’s was another freelancer haunt, but it’s pretty quiet in there since the original owner died.
The freelancers found in these places are the equivalent of streetwalkers in the United States. Customers may find a gem once in a while, but they normally don’t expect much. Many of the freelance girls are on drugs and or like to grab anything they can get their hands on. The standard rate with these girls is 10 to 20 dollars for a short time adventure.
A higher level of freelancer can be found in places like the Nagaworld Casino and the associated Darlin Darlin live music bar. Those ladies are looking for high rollers and expect a minimum of one hundred dollars for sex. Sometimes they get much more.
Most foreigners avoid the numerous local brothels in the city at all costs, even if they are pestered to visit one by a motorbike taxi or tuk tuk driver. The same goes for the five to ten street girls (and ladyboys) that hang around places like Wat Phnom at night. These seems to be for the best.
Hostess bars in Phnom Penh
The main action for foreigners in Phnom Penh takes place in the hostess bars. These are scattered all over the Daun Penh section of the city. The biggest concentrations on Street 51, Street 136, Street 130, Street 110, Street 118 and Street 104. There are a few others in different areas too. A select few are open 24 hours, but most don’t come alive until 6:00 pm. They usually close in the early morning hours.
Any man who walks by these places will often be called in by one of the ladies sitting near the door. “Hello welcome” is a common sound in the bar areas. When a customer enters a girl or two will try to sit with them. Smart customers pick the girl they are interested in rather than getting stuck with whoever is next in line. Drinks for customers cost a dollar or two and lady drinks cost about four dollars. Customers can talk, order food, play pool, or do whatever they want within reason. Hostesses go to work to make money.
Most bars have barfines. If a lady wants to leave the bar with a guy, she asks him to pay this fee. It is supposed to relieve the bar for the loss of staff for a night. The typical barfine is ten dollars. Of course some ladies won’t leave the bar. Or they will only leave with certain guys. It is their prerogative.
Pros and cons
Some place like Island Bar are up front about having women who are eager to go out with customers. At most others it is a little more like dating with money used as a social lubricant. Customers who look like totally new guys or a tourists are often quoted very high prices that compare with the Vietnamese hostess bars in Ho Chi Minh City.
When women leave the bar with a guy they usually offer full service in private. A short time romp normally goes for 30 to 50 dollars. A long time overnight session can run anywhere from 50 to 100 dollars. Some of the women may not budge from prices much higher than this.
Despite all the sexy outfits in the bars and some of the raunchy jokes customers might hear bar girls make, Cambodia is still a pretty conservative place. Things are changing. But much remains the same. You may see a girl dance on a table top here or there, but there is no nudity in the bars. It’s not Thailand by any means.
Most of the women in Cambodia expect there to be at least a little romance involved, even if they are bar girls. And in bed, many will lay back and let the guy do all the work. Perhaps as many as half of the women working in bars don’t do blowjobs. Probably half of the ones who do aren’t very good at it. Performance is usually higher with the Vietnamese women working in Cambodia, though they are often more hustler-like than the native gals. Cambodian bargirls are more likely to give customers a snuggle up lovey-dovey girlfriend style experience or play the cold fish routine. Of course there are always exceptions.
Closing with a secret
Lastly, I will mention Cyrcee. This “secret bar” is the go to place for guys who are looking for a direct experience. The place isn’t actually that secret. After a recent move it is now located on a main road near the famous Central Market.
Cyrcee is a tiny bar. When you walk in you immediately see ten to twenty women waiting for guys to enter. As soon as you sit down you are usually surrounded by these women who are not shy with their hands or words. They have some incredible sales pitches. Mainly they are all looking for short time sessions.
The barfine at Cyrcee is $10 and women ask for 30 dollars for their time. The women are mostly professionals with real skills. They aren’t afraid to kiss or suck either. Friends who go out together are even known to interact with each other. And it’s all quick and to the point. The gals typically use a nearby guesthouse rather than trekking off to a hotel room. They know the ropes.
There is a lot more too. But this covers most of the more well known things that even temporary visitors come across. Long time residents often discover even more, if they actually go out and look for it.