Cambodian nightlife contains a myraid of options ranging from disco crowds heaving with excitement to the beats of European DJs to heartbreaking brothels employing indentured girls sold by their impoverished parents. Being a patriarchal society girls and women are hired at various establishments to provide entertainment for men. Men make up the majority of those who go out to enjoy the various types of entertainment Cambodian girls provide.
To understand the complex tapestry that makes up nightlife in Cambodia we must first understand Cambodia in the context of its history and its ambitions as a country. For many westerners, Cambodia has a a reputation as a backwater developing country with a tragic modern history that includes genocide, civil war, coups, and political battles between rival factions. More information on Cambodia’s history is available here. These ideas alone would be enough to put visitors off visiting Cambodia; however, as the Cambodian economy slowly grows, it seems that the country aims to be an equal in terms of GPD wealth with its relatively successful neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam.
As a result of these ambitions the country has opened to an increasing number of tourists and business and inequality has set in. Most uneducated people make $50-$70/month and Cambodian nightlife establishments cater to everyone. Whether you have only a few dollars in your pocket, or you are an ultra rich local in a $100,000 SUV with an entourage of bodyguards, there is a place for you, and there will be girls there to entertain you. Foreigners, and educated Cambodians who enjoy the sorts of Cambodian nightlife discussed on this sight are somewhere in the middle. Girly bars, discos, and beer gardens with hostesses for are plentiful. In the years since the civil war ended, people have started going out at night again, bringing a resurgence to Cambodian nightlife. Guys can enjoy beef BBQ and several pitchers of beer for $10 or so at local venues, of course, with a hostess providing conversation and sharing your beer and food for the evening. Lots of girls working in the entertainment scene, for foreigners and locals alike, have wages so low that in order to earn a living wage they turn to prostitution, or hope that their customers tip them adequately.
While the rich get richer, the poor stay poor. There are just too many girls looking for work, and not enough jobs to be found so wages stay low. So when you go out in Phnom Penh, remember that $100 means relatively little to you, but it can make a big difference to a bar girl. If you are looking for a charitable way to use your money where you know where your money goes, look no further. Some girls don’t enjoy their jobs and would prefer to work elsewhere or go to school. Sometimes guys sponsor them, they end up with a “girlfriend” of sorts and you will become her de facto “boyfriend” by providing her with monthly living money and the opportunity to do something better. This is known as sponsoring a girl and you can negotiate, believe it or not, the amount it would take to be a girl’s sponsor. It could be as low as $100 a month to $400 a month. Why sponsor a bar girl or hostess?
- No middle man or administration fees, give money right to the girl and see the difference you make in her life, be it school, a new moto, or nicer clothes, any one of which raises the girl’s status immensely.
- Money is much more clearly at the heart of many relationships here, with men having the desire and the means to support a girl, and the women accepting the opportunity.
Having said all that about the girls, and nightlife in Phnom Penh, one may ask, after all the talk of Cambodian history, its poverty, and the exploitation of girls should I go to see it for myself? Answer: definitely. Every visitor brings much needed dollars into the economy and, hopefully, reading the information on this site will encourage respectful behavior towards the girls here. If visitors understand Cambodian girls better, they can help more. Staying away will not improve the situation but a visit will give you an opportunity to enjoy yourself and make a difference.
Considering a visit to see some Cambodian nightlife for yourself? Leave us a message and we can work to organize the sort of trip tailored to your needs.