Fishbowl massage in Phnom Penh

Fishbowl massage in Phnom Penh is a pretty common thing that doesn’t get much attention in English. Of course Phnom Penh is not like it used to be when tons of hotels and even restaurants had their own fishbowls filled with women. But you better believe that it is still around.

The number of karaoke clubs, bars, restaurants and hotels in Phnom Penh with prostitutes is pretty high. There is a lot going on. And that is not even to mention all the freelancers who aim for various target groups of customers. Anyone who thinks there aren’t many women available in the city hasn’t opened their eyes.

I wrote about soapy massage parlors in Thailand before. Fishbowl massage parlors in Phnom Penh are somewhat like those. You might say they are different because you don’t get a soapy slide in Cambodia. But the truth is that a lot of the chicks in the Thai soapies don’t give soapy slides anymore either. So in fact, they’re not that different at all.

What is fishbowl massage?

You might find the name curious if you haven’t heard it before. But calling a place a “fishbowl massage parlor” is actually pretty accurate. That’s because the women who work in these places sit in a room behind a large sheet of glass. So it looks like they are in a big fishbowl.

In most places, every woman has a button with their number. Sometimes the buttons are color coded to show what country they are from. In Cambodia that usually means there are two colors. One is for the Khmers girls. The other is for the Vietnamese girls. But there are also fishbowls with no buttons. In those places guys just point out the lady they’re interested in.

Phnom Penh fishbowl

Normally each place has a house fee. That’s paid up front and officially it is just for a massage. It is the only money the actual business makes from the transaction. Anything else that goes on in the private rooms is up to the people inside. So the owners of these places can claim ignorance and avoid trouble.

In reality, pretty much everyone who goes to a fishbowl is going to get sex. And they’ll probably get a blowjob too. The prices aren’t set in stone. But there vaguely agreed upon and known. If you wander in and don’t know the price, you might get overcharged. There can be negotiation involved for first timers too. Generally speaking though, the house fees are $6-10 dollars, and the ladies want $30-60 bucks on top of that.

Fishbowl massage in Phnom Penh

Until a few years ago, the most well known fishbowls in Phnom Penh were located inside of the Paradise Hotel and Paris Hotel. Paradise kind of withered away. The fishbowl in the Paris Hotel way closed by police a while back. Oddly some of these places are allowed to stay open for years. Then they’re suddenly raided and closed. The whole time they were open people knew they were there. So it seems strange they would suddenly become an issue. But that’s the way it goes.

There are least five fishbowls in Phnom Penh right now. There used to be many more. Some of the current places have been open many years. Others are newer. I actually think there are a couple of very new places hidden in various other businesses. I haven’t had a chance to verify my hunches. But two well known fishbowls definitely in operation are 252 Massage and Hotel Luxury World.

252 Massage

As the name might lead you to believe, 252 Massage is located on Street 252. It has gone by many names over the years. Now it’s just called “252 Massage.” Some people online call the place “massa.” That’s never been the name. I think they’re just repeating the word “massage” said with a Khmer accent. A lot of information on the internet is distorted like that.

Anyway, 252 Massage is on top of a building that is a night club. But I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the club open. The entrance for 252 Massage is on the side and clearly visible from the street. When you walk in there’s a front desk on one side and the fishbowl on the other. There about 20 Cambodian and Vietnamese women inside. The price for a massage is $6. But they sometimes ask foreigners for $10 to $15 if they think they can get it. In the rooms the women usually start out asking for $100, but they normally settle for something closer to $30. The rooms were recently remade, but they’re not what you see in your aunt’s interior decoration guides. One sheet gets a lot of use.

Hotel Luxury World

Hotel Luxury World is only a couple of streets away on Street 200. It’s within easy walking distance of 252 Massage. But most people prefer to travel on wheels due to the heat and difficultly of getting around all the obstacles strewn on the streets.

As the name here suggests, Hotel Luxury World is a regular hotel. People stay in the rooms and even eat in the restaurant there. All the while, other guys come in and out of the place solely to visit the fishbowl on the second floor.

The whole setup is intricate. After you go through the first door you come to a desk. There’s an empty fishbowl behind you. Then when you tell them you want a massage, they take you through another there. Then a curtain slides open and you see the real fishbowl with the women inside. There are usually ten or more. Some are Vietnamese. The others are Cambodian. The fee for a massage is $10.

The rooms at Luxury World are pretty clean and nice considering. The prices the chicks ask for are also higher. Most of the Cambodian women are happy to get $50. But the Vietnamese usually want more. Sometimes they want a lot more. It’s typical for them to get between $80 and $100 at this place.

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