In Phnom Penh and looking to hook up with a Cambodian girl?
From many aspects, Cambodia is the new Thailand. The current era of relative political and economic security has made the country a prime spot for investment, tourism and as a great pick up spot for women.
In this guide, we look at what sets Cambodian women apart from other Asian ladies, the semantics of hooking up with Cambodian girls and where to find them in Phnom Penh.
What’s So Special About Cambodian Girls?
We could answer that with a ‘what’s not to like?’; Asian women share similar physical characteristics meaning that the same things that draw us to find Thai, Korean or Chinese women attractive is also true of Cambodian girls.
Predominantly, the average Cambodian girl has the classic Asian features of:
- Straight, black hair and dark eyes
- Wide cheekbones
- Small nose
- Light skin
However, Cambodian girls are less likely to have a mixed racial heritage due to the country having less history of immigration.
Culturally, women in Cambodia have always been modest, quiet and shy. Their role in the home has been one of financial significance; ultimately holding the purse strings and exerting power, albeit (as in many patriarchal cultures) in the background.
The modern Cambodian woman retains some of their traditional influences on gender but have also embraced a Western and modern attitude to life. City girls, particularly those in Phnom Penh, are open to new experiences, curious and bolder than their shy rural sisters. Working girls can appear demure at will but are likely to be cannier than you might give them credit for. Education in Cambodia isn’t great for women and literacy rates are low. That doesn’t mean that your average Cambodian girl isn’t intelligent and those that have grown up in the city have a far better understanding of the ways of the world than most. Many who earn a living in the entertainment industries are also paying for higher education and you could easily find that your hostess is a graduate.
When it comes to the sex industry, Cambodia has long been viewed as a ‘new frontier’ for many male tourists intent of finding the next ‘Bangkok’. Prices for sex are low and services are plentiful with willing and attractive women in abundance.
Cambodian Girls: The Culture of Dating
Traditionally, dating in Cambodia is a conservative affair. A Buddhist country, publc displays of affection between couples is not common and you won’t see it outside of Phnom Penh. However, dating foreigners is big business in the capital and the same rules don’t apply here.
There are two types of girl in Cambodia; modern and traditional. A traditional Cambodian girl will be looking for a Cambodian man (rarely a westerner) and will observe the practice of preserving their virginity until marriage. Dating is a new concept in Cambodian culture and traditionalists do not subscribe to this singularly western concept.
Modern Cambodian girls however adopt a more open (and familiar) approach to dating and are open to the idea of being courted, having casual encounters with men and exploring a relationship before marriage.
Dating Foreigners in Cambodia
In Phnom Penh, dating a foreigner (known as a ‘berang’) is quite common and though many Cambodians suspect that a relationship between the two will be one of financial gain for the girl, it is tolerated. However, even in the city, public displays of affection can cause offence so do observe this cultural difference.
Singles vs Sex Industry
Of course, there are plenty of genuine singles in Cambodia who will be more than just interested in a ‘rich’ western man. Cynical? Maybe. There are plenty of anecdotal stories of love that blossomed but we can’t ignore the fact that most relationships began as a result of ‘barangs’ flashing the cash. The question is, when you find an interested Cambodian girl is whether she is interested in a relationship or earning some cash.
In this guide, we’ve outlined some places that you can visit to find Cambodian prostitutes if you are simply interested in sex but we’ve also tried to cover those places where you can hit up some singles for more serial dating opportunities.
Understanding, and working out, the difference between the two will be up to you and your ‘spidey-senses’.
Legal Status of Prostitution in Cambodia
Which leads us onto an important point that you should bear in mind. Prostitution, whilst prevalent in Cambodia, is technically illegal.
Up until 1979, prostitution was banned and punishable by death; understandably leading to a significant decline in numbers of sex workers under the authoritarian state system. Sex work began to grow in prominence during the era of the State of Cambodia and increased significantly during the 1990s. When the UN forces arrived in 1992 it is suggested that the increase in male troops led to an increase in prostitutes from around 6,000 in 1991 to 20,000. Though there has been widespread refutation of such claims, official figures of sex workers fell to around 4,000 when UNTAC forces withdrew in 1993.
As a result of the ensuing political instability in the country, by the early 2000s this figure had risen again to around 55,000 with 15,000 prostitutes estimated to be working in Phnom Penh.
In 2008, the Cambodian government enshrined a law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation which now outlaws pornography distribution, running a brothel, managing prostitutes and soliciting sex in public places. However, the exchange of sex for money is not outlawed.
It’s a grey area and one that is designed to protect sex workers (particularly those who are vulnerable and/or under the age of 18) from being exploited. Most sex tourists to the country do not experience any trouble when engaging the services of a prostitute; providing the escort is over 18.
Places to Meet Cambodian Girls in Phnom Penh
Night Clubs, Phnom Penh
Cambodian girls like to let their hair down as much as girls in any big city and the clubs are the best places to rub shoulders (and other things) with local girls. You are less likely to be picked up by a working girl at the clubs but you could get lucky with a local. However, don’t assume anything as prostitutes (or even chancers) do try their luck with barangs. If you suspect your hook-up is a freelancer then make sure you subtly get a price before you take her back to your hotel room. You can expect to pay anything from $20-$50 for a one shot wonder with a prostitute; however, you don’t want to insult a local so play it cool.
There are several big clubs in Phnom Penh that are good pick up spots including Riverhouse on Sisowath Quay, Pontoon on Street 172 as well as the Heart of Darkness on Pasteur Street (51).
Pontoon is one of the more famous venues and has a reputation for attracting an eclectic mix of tourists and locals. Every night has a theme to it and the club is open seven days a week. It opens at 9pm and stays crowded until it closes at 5.00am. There is a cover charge (includes a free drink) but you will definitely get your money’s worth.
Hostess Bars, Phnom Penh
Girly bars, hostess bars or beer bars, they all offer a cheap night out with the same concept; you arrive alone but will be guaranteed to have female company. There are plenty of them across the city but you will find your pick of plenty in Street 136. It couldn’t be easier. You walk in, take a seat, order a drink and let one of the girls come to you or make eyes at someone you like the look of and she will be on you like a fly on the proverbial. You buy her a couple of drinks and then invite her back to your room for short time or long time fun.
These girls are working so don’t be going all goo-goo over the prospect of a long term relationship. If she likes you then she might make you a regular during your stay if you make it worth her while.
As for the cost; short time will cost you about $50 with long time being in the region of $100. You can haggle if you like but they don’t tend to take kindly to it so you could find your experience being more ‘perfunctory’ if you do.
Drinks are reasonably cheap and, by the time you’ve paid for her to have a few along with whatever your having, you can expect to pay around $20.
You can also find girly bars on Streets 104, 118, 130, 172 and around Riverside.
Phnom Penh KTVs
Popular in a lot of Asian countries, KTVs or Karaoke bars in Phnom Penh can be an entertaining way of getting your kicks. They are really popular with the locals and though there are some absolute dives around the city, the top class ones have some very beautiful women working inside. The bigger venues with the bright lights and modern frontages will cost more but you will thank us for pointing you in the right direction.
You’ll find the best KTVs on Street 598 and Street 571 which will set you back about $10 an hour for the room hire on top of drinks and tips for the girls. Inside your room you’ll find comfortable seating, big screen TVs and microphones. Prices for the services of the girls should be agreed up front and you can always entertain more than one if your budget allows. A great way to spend an evening, KTVs are a popular way to experience a night out in Phnom Penh. The Diamond Club is a good call on Lane 60.
Strip Bars, Phnom Penh
It’s not the done thing to have strippers in bars yet in Cambodia so you won’t find naked gyrating women anywhere in Phnom Penh (in public). However, they do have some dancing bars where sexy dancers will entertain you. The best is the 69 Bar on Street 136 or Mr Butterfly (also on Street 136). Both hostess bars, you can give your senses a treat as you decide on your pick-up.
Erotic and Happy Ending Massage in Cambodia
There aren’t any soaplands like Tokyo in Phnom Penh nor can you find plentiful parlours where adult massage is a given. What you can find are lots of massage spas where you might get a happy ending. Not all of them do so but if you know where to go you can try your luck.
The best places are around the girly bars on Street 136 as well as the River Promenade and the Wat Phonm roundabout. Special massages just kind of happen without any prior agreement but you may need to use persuasion with open body language and a few well timed one liners.
In general, a good massage will only set you back about $6-10 anyway so even if you don’t strike it lucky, you won’t have spent a fortune and you should get a decent body rub.
Street Hookers and Prostitution, Phnom Penh
Once night time hits the city, you can start to find street hookers congregating in several hotspots. Head to the River Promenade or the areas around the Wat Phnom roundabout and you won’t be short of invitations. Largely the kind of girls who can’t get work in the hostess bars or KTVs you won’t find the cream of the Cambodian crop at either of these locations but you will be paying less.
Phnom Penh Brothels
Though brothels are illegal under the new legislation in Cambodia they do exist. Mainly servicing locals and hardcore sex tourists looking for an ‘authentic experience’ they are not the best in terms of standards of hygiene nor are they the most legitimate of places. You can find them off the beaten tourist tracks in Streets 335, 598 and 271. They are discernible by their open doors and huddles of women waiting on the street to entice customers inside. As noted, these venues are illegal and we recommend you avoid them to stay out of bother.
No guide to the girls of Phnom Penh would be complete without mentioning the honorary ‘girls’, the ladyboys. Much like neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia has more than its fair share of transsexuals; some identify as gay men who dress to impress the foreigners tastes for ladyboys and may have had no surgery. Others identify 100% as women and strive to ‘pass’ in everyday life as CIS ladies; many have been able to fund top surgery (breast implants) with money derived from prostitution/escort work or as entertainers. Some have even been able to afford lower surgery (the removal of the penis to form a vagina) though this is rare as some sensory loss can be expected plus many feel that this would diminish their appeal as true ladyboys.
You can find ladyboys in Phnom Penh at most hostess bars (check out Street 136), nightclubs and also on the streets with other working girls. Island Bar on Street 118 or Pontoon on Street 172 are usually good places to go however a lot of bars have ladyboy nights so keep your eyes open for any advertised events
Featured image courtesy of Flickr.