A beer garden is basically a bar with an outdoor seating area. Well, that’s how it is in most of the world including Germany where the biergarten originated. But things are different in Southeast Asia. Beer gardens in Cambodia are a hybrid bar restaurant and sometimes KTV club with women on hand to keep the male customers company. These places are common and found all over the country but foreigners rarely go to them.
Depending on the place it is quite possible to spend several hours at a beer garden in Cambodia and only spend a couple of bucks. On the other hand it is also possible to spend several hundred if you go all out and party it up with a dozen women. It all depends.
Ninety nine percent of the guys that go to these beer gardens are local Cambodian dudes. Occasionally some Chinese, Korea or Japanese dudes will come in. But that’s about it. The good thing is that the local guys are nearly always friendly in Cambodia. I have never had a single issue. In a couple of cases guys invited me over to share their beer!
Where are the beer gardens?
These beer gardens are probably harder to avoid than to find. They take up a lot of space. They have big arches with beer company names like Angkor or Carlsberg at the entrances. Then lots of chicks in short skirts sit at the entrances. Plus they light the whole place up at night. To say they are easy to find would be an understatement.
You may have heard of Khmer Pub Street in Siem Reap. That is not the annoying backpacker strip in the middle of the city. It is a much longer and more civilized strip on the other side of town. It is lined with dozens of places filled with chicks. They are all beer gardens.
And they are only some of the many beer gardens in Siem Reap. There are many more spread all around the town and its outskirts. The same goes for all the other cities and towns in Cambodia ranging from the capital Phnom Penh to small outposts like Kratie. They’re literally all over the place. There’s one on Street 19 in downtown Phnom Penh. Then there are some across the river that are literally carved into the jungle. This is a popular pastime for local dudes.
How Cambodian beer gardens work
Beer gardens in Cambodia are basically just restaurants or pubs that happen to have women. I don’t know why foreign guys seem to avoid them. Maybe they feel more at home in the pub like atmosphere of the hostess bars where women are more likely to speak English.
I have never found the beer gardens scary or intimidating. Not even the first time I randomly wandered into one years ago. Like I said they are just like normal bars or restaurants. Plus they’re mostly open so it’s not like you’re going to get clubbed over the head. Well I guess anything is possible bit they’re pretty normal and mainstream. In some of these places you will even see a family or husband and wife eating food and drinking. Usually it is just guys though. If a guy does come with his family he usually ignores them and spends time staring at all the chicks instead.
The chicks are there to make money. When a dude rolls in the mamasan will pop up and ask about women. If a dude wants to hang out with some he just says so. They bring over the chicks and he decides who he wants to sit with. Sitting together is like being on a date. You might order food or drinks or whatever. Some places have private karaoke rooms too. Though using them might cost a little extra or require the purchase of a case of beer or something.
I wouldn’t say the women who work at these places are hookers in the strict sense. Some people including most local women might disagree. But these aren’t like chicks in a brothel who fuck dudes for a specific price. Some will meet a guy many time and never even touch him. Others will leave with a guy at the end of the first night. A few of these women end up dating or even marrying customers. Others just roll from one bed to another. And some drink, eat and go home without ever doing anything sexual with a guy. So it’s almost like a dating club in some ways with no guarantee of sex at all. That might be why few foreigners go these beer gardens.