In the major cities of Cambodia, which basically means Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, massage parlors are everywhere. Thailand is the world capital of massage shops but Cambodia runs a close second. I think so many people set them up because the only thing required are some women and some mattresses. There’s nothing else to it.
Cambodia has a much smaller population than Thailand. If someone sat down and calculated the number of massage parlors per person in Phnom Penh, I think they might discover that it even beats Pattaya.
There are different kinds of massage shops in Phnom Penh. The most common have got to be the incredibly low rent places that cater to broke local guys. These are everywhere but a lot of tourists probably don’t notice them. Sometimes they are small shacks. Sometimes they are shop houses or store fronts. They put signs out front that say “massage” in Khmer or English. They also display the price which is usually 10,000 Riel. That’s $2.50 American for those keeping score at home.
Cheap 10,000 Riel massage
Most local guys go to these places for genuine relaxation. They lay down on the dirty mattresses and get a Khmer-style massage or some cupping. Some places also do coining. The guys usually don’t ask for hand jobs. When local guys want to bust a nut they fuck someone. There isn’t a big local market for hand jobs or blow jobs.
Some of the women working these massage places do give hand jobs. Since hand jobs are a sort of specialty in these places, women who do them often ask huge amounts of money in relation to the local economy. The women in the massage shacks on the riverside in Phnom Penh start out with quotes of $20 US for a handie. Some foreign guys have had money stolen from their pockets in these places.
A few of the massage shacks are actually fronts for brothels. They look a lot like the regular places. Local guys know the difference. There are a lot of brothel shacks on the southern end of the city. There are also a few in the BKK3 district. They charge $2.50 for the massage and $5 more for sex. They usually employ Vietnamese chicks. A few have Khmer ladies working. These places are mainly for locals but they let anyone with money and a pulse inside. The horrifying word on the street is that all too many of these women are willing to work without a condom when asked, which apparently is quite often.
There are also many of the kind of “regular” or “legit” massage parlors that people from Western countries are more used to around. They are scattered all over the city. Some are nicer than others. Most have mattresses spread out on the floor with curtains dividing them. Some have private rooms. No matter how they look inside they usually charge $6 for a Khmer-style massage and $10 to $12 for an oil massage. There are many around Wat Phnom. There are also many around the old market, the riverside, and the Toul Sleng museum. The official policy in most of these places is that they do not give any extras. A lot of the women follow these rules. Some break them. There’s no real way to know what is what. Even a lot of the shady looking places that stay open 24 hours a day offer nothing extra.
Some places have developed reputations. Women in the handful of massage parlors on Street 47 north of Wat Phnom often give handies to guys who ask for them. Chicks working the row of massage parlors on Sothearos Boulevard leading south from Sihanouk Boulevard are also known to give handies. They usually start out by asking $20 for this service even though the regular price is more like $10.
There are also some pimps working in that area. They sit outside on plastic chairs and call to people passing by. They arrange “dates” in the guest houses scattered between the massage parlors. They call up women to join guys in the rooms. They usually ask for $50 but regulars pay as little as $20 plus the room fee. There’s no massage going on with these arrangements.
Once upon a time Panda Massage on Street 240 and O’Spa on Street 75 were two of the favorite massage parlors of expats and tourists looking for happy endings. After many years in business both places are now gone. I don’t know why, but all the development may have something to do with it.
Even some of the biggest concentrations of massage parlors are being broken up so that more Chinese seafood restaurants and Korean skin clinics can be constructed. The group of massage parlors on Sothearos Boulevard lost a lot of massage parlors over the last few years. There are still many there though, and in a lot of them there are chicks who do happy endings.
Rithy Ya is one of the 24 hour massage parlors on this strip. With the exception of the security guard outside this place only hires chicks. Depending when you go there it’s either filled with cute to hot chicks or old and chubby chicks. It seems like the daytime shift is the worst in terms of looks.
A full body oil massage is $8. It comes with a foot wash. The massages are done in private rooms upstairs that have their own showers. Happy endings are commonly offered. A hand job seems like a standard offering but some of the chicks do blowjobs and at least one prefers to go all the way either because she wants the money or she’s into it. I don’t know if every chick in the place does happy endings, but enough of them do for me to mention the place especially since other old standbys like Panda and O’Spa have disappeared.
There are two more types of massage places in Phnom Penh. The first are the huge massage complexes. They fill huge buildings and are usually decorated to look like something special. They’re really pretty plane inside but they stand out in Phnom Penh. Or at least they did before all the development started. There are even Starbucks around now, but I digress.
The big massage complexes have a mix of local women and Chinese women around. When you go in they ask you what kind of massage you want. You can select an oil massage or a “body massage” which is basically a Khmer or Thai style massage. Then they ask if you want a Cambodian or a Chinese woman to do the massage. If you know a woman’s number you can ask for her specifically but there’s no line up or fishbowl.
The massages are done in private rooms with genuine massage tables. They usually have a little bathroom attached too. The walls are prettied up and they usually have some soft music playing. The women are average looking.
These places are a little more expensive than the smaller massage shops. But they are still not expensive compared to massage parlors in the West or even the bigger “spa” type places in Bangkok. A massage is usually around $10 or $12. You are expected to tip the women too. You write the tip on a piece of paper at the end of the massage then pay the total for the massage and tip at the desk in front on the way out.
As a rule these places don’t offer any extras. But some women break the rules. No one can see into the rooms so some people make arrangements for hand jobs at times. One guy told me he got blown in one of these places. I don’t think he was lying but I don’t think it’s common at all. I think it’s more common for guys who are really into a chick working these places to get their phone number and meet them after. Most guys go to these places for regular massage relaxation though. A lot of local high rollers love these places. You always see Lexus and Land Rovers parked out front, especially at night. One masseuse told me they come when they’re drunk and pass out on the massage tables. I asked her what she does when that happens and she told me, “I play phone.”
Finally, there are the big massage parlor fronts. Some of these stand alone but most are attached to hotels or karaoke places. They have women with numbered pins waiting around for customers. Guys pay $6 or $10 to the place for a massage. Then they pick one of the women. I guess the owners would claim that these places are only for massage to avoid trouble. In reality, arrangements are regularly made in the rooms for sex. Locals pay $30 or $40 for sex. Foreigners can be asked for anything up to $100. Regulars aren’t ripped off but visitors are tested. This is pretty normal in a lot of Southeast Asia, and not only in the “pay for play” game. There are around a half dozen of these big massage fronts in Phnom Penh. A lot of people walk right past them without a clue. One is located next to one of the biggest and most expensive hotels in the city. Once in a while one will get raided but they usually reopen either at the same place or somewhere nearby within days.
Siem Reap and Sihanoukville
Siem Reap and Sihanoukville are a lot more limited. They have the “regular looking” massage parlors and some shacks that are sometime referred to as “chicken houses.” The shacks are for the most part pure brothels that specialize in the wham, bam, thank you mam, blow and go model.
Most of the massage parlors are “no extras” places. A few women working them sell hand jobs when they get the chance. One place in Sihanoukville was set up almost entirely for sex but it seems to have gone under. I could never figure out how they didn’t get shut down. They were totally open and even had a website advertising their services in English. I never heard anything about the place being shut down, but it is definitely closed. For some reason I imagine the owner to be wearing an old No Fear T-shirt in a shitty prison cell somewhere.
Lately Chinese people started moving into Sihanoukville and buying lots of stuff. The word is that some of them have set up sex massage places too. I don’t know if they accept non-Chinese customers yet. I only know that they advertise with Chinese business cards and the chicks who do the massages are Chinese too. At least one of the places has already been shut down.
Updated January 2018 – Removed Panda Massage (closed) and added O Spa.
Updated September 2018 – Removed O Spa (closed) and added Rithy Ya Massage