The bar scene in Phnom Penh continues to grow. Over the last few years it has grown at a pace even I struggle to keep up with. Every time I return to the city it seems like there are more hostess bars. And they are spread over a large area.
The main concentration of bars continue to be in the same places. Street 104 is limited in length But the bars now stretch for whole city blocks on Street 130, Street 136 and even Street 51. Then there are the other bars popping up away from the action. One is called the Filling Station.
The Filling Station in Phnom Penh is not to be confused with the famous restaurant of the same name located in the heart of Manila’s P Burgos red light district. As far as I can tell the only thing the two places have in common is that they both employ Filipina ladies.
The Filling Station
The Filling Station is easy to find assuming the address is known in advance. Otherwise I don’t imagine many people would accidently happen upon it. The bar is located on Street 282 which a side street in a rather quiet area.
The bar takes up what seems to have been a large villa at one point. Though it was all redone and fitted out to be a business. The place is clearly marked with a large sign out front. Although it is in a discrete location the place is no secret. It has been advertised for a while and many people talk about the place. I first heard of it a few years ago from a manager of another well known place.
Inside there is a large sort of dance floor area. To the left there is a proper bar. To the right there are comfortable booth style seats. And at the back there is an elevated stage area where live bands can and do play. It seems like a lot is possible though the place was very quite when I visited.
Around a dozen women work at the Filling Station. As mentioned above they hail from the Philippines. I wouldn’t say any of the gals are superstars in terms of either looks or personality. But they certainly aren’t ugly old hags either. Over all the place and its staff sort of remind me of the Filipino bars in Singapore’s Orchard Towers.
Staff, prices and summary
The Orchard Tower bar comparison applies to the prices too which seem to be flexible to put it mildly. Draft beers for customers cost 2 dollars which is higher than some hostess bars but not out of the norm for the area. The lady drink prices are where things get questionable. A lady drink at the Filling Station supposedly costs $4.50. But some of the gals have a habit of ordering two drinks or “a double” for themselves when a customer orders one. Then they bring over a receipt to have signed. It wouldn’t be difficult for a customer with his guard down to sign off on an extra drink without knowing it. And no matter the price all receipts have a ten percent “service charge” attached to them.
I understand that women traveling from the Philippines to another country would aim to make money. But there is more than one way to do that. I don’t know how much management is involved in the business on the floor. But whoever is in charge of it hasn’t made the best decisions if bringing in and retaining customers is the goal.
More than one person has reported being ripped off at the bar. A Japanese punter says he was charged $600 in a single night with lots of unexpected fees. A Westerner says he was charged double what he expected. I have only been to the place once. I asked the prices in advance and had no issue. That doesn’t mean others are lying.
In any event the way things are done at the Filling Station help explain why the place seems empty to me and other who have visited. Meanwhile business is booming at some other places in town that are otherwise similar. The place is unremarkable except that it is distant from other bars and staffs Filipina women. I haven’t experienced the things that some others report of. But I haven’t seen anything that justifies the prices either. So I give it a half star.
|Address:||22 Street 282, Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Map)|
|Hours:||7:00 PM - 2:30 AM|