Regular local guys pick up freelancers or hit the cheap massage parlors and brothels when they want the same thing. Local guys with money to burn and Asian businessmen in the city are more likely to go beer gardens, massage fishbowls and karaoke places. Although most foreigners don’t know about them, there are tons of them in Phnom Penh.
Karaoke or KTVs basically come in two forms in Phnom Penh. There are the places that have chicks on standby to accompany male customers and there are family karaoke places that don’t. The family karaoke places often put “family” right in their name so there won’t be any confusion. The other karaoke places usually have some chicks sitting right out front or just inside the door waiting to greet customers.
Most families and chicks who want to spend some time singing and drinking go to the family places, but there are exceptions. Most of the karaoke places will let women inside or groups of men and women. It’s not out of the norm for single guys in the group to call on some women to sit with them even if they already have women in their party. But some places don’t let women inside at all. An example of that is the popular X2 KTV on Street 214. That place is for guys only as are a few more.
There used to be some KTVs that would let guys just roll up, grab a chick, and roll out. There aren’t many around anymore. Sometimes a place that knows a guy will still make that kind of arrangement but they same people would say no to most foreigners.
The point of karaoke is of course to sing. Even though a lot of the buildings are rough looking most of the KTVs have really nice private rooms. They usually have deals too. You pay for a certain amount of time along with food and drinks. The best bang for the buck comes from getting a package. The prices are all different. The further you get from the city center the cheaper the deals are, but even right in the heart of Phnom Penh you can spend a few hours eating and drinking with your friends and some chicks without spending more than a hundred bucks. That figure might blow the minds of some cheap charlies but keep in mind that the local business set blows a lot more than that every time they go out.
There are a lot of cheap places in Phnom Penh, but there are a lot of expensive places too. That’s how it goes. It’s no different than standing on any street in Phnom Penh and watching people come from one direction on twenty year old motor scooters while people driving Bentleys bought in cash come from the other direction.
Anyway, at most of the Phnom Penh karaoke places the available chicks sit out front or near the door. At some of the larger places the chicks wait in a room somewhere. When you book a room a mamasan who can usually speak English will come talk to you and ask you if you’d like to meet chicks. If you say yes, they will usually just bring whatever number of chicks you are looking for. But if you ask them to see the available chicks, they usually have them come into the room and say hello in groups of ten or so.
Unlike the mamasans, the chicks who work in the karaokes usually can’t speak English. Some of them can read Khmer from Google translate but others cannot. All of them can sing but not all are good at it. There are some really hot chicks working in the KTVs. They dress well but it’s still pretty conservative.
In China and South Korea chicks in karaokes sometimes get wild do everything from strip teases to full sex. That doesn’t go down in Phnom Penh. There might be some light touching or cuddling but that’s about as far as it goes. When guys want to take a chick out of a karaoke they negotiate it privately with the chicks themselves. A lot of chicks simply won’t go out with a guy. Others are more open to it. Some want to get to know guys first, which usually means repeat visits. The karaoke places have nothing to do with anything the chicks do outside of the karaokes, so it all comes down to the chicks themselves.
Local guys sometimes get chicks out of the karaokes for free. The guys just sweet talk the chicks. It can work, especially when the guys are in their twenties like the chicks. Other guys don’t bother, especially if they’re older and have more money and a wife at home. Guys who do pay KTV chicks give them anywhere from thirty to a hundred bucks.
At the end of a KTV session the lights go on and the bill comes in. Unlike Chiang Mai’s infamous rip off joints most of the KTVs in Cambodia are pretty honest. If you get a package that’s what you get. If the chicks or someone in your party wants more than that, it has to be ordered. They don’t normally slip in extra drinks and charges.
There are a few areas where confusion can occur though. If you spent 61 minutes in a place you get charged for two hours. Also, if you have a mamasan come in and sit with you while she is supposed to be going from room to room checking on everyone there is sometimes a small fee. That’s about it.
It’s customary but not necessary to give tips. Tips are usually given to the chick who runs the karaoke machine and the microphones, the mamasan, the chicks that sit with the guys and occasionally the guys who bring the food and drinks in. Tips can be anything from a dollar or two on up. The chicks who sit with guys usually expect more but I don’t think they’d piss and moan if they got less, at least not in front of everyone.