Tap water is not potable in Cambodia. Bottled water is ubiquitous and cheap Khmer brands in blue plastic bottles sell for 1000 riels or less (although prices are often marked up for tourists).
So, what are the best drinks in Cambodia? And what is the best Cambodian alcohol to try out?
Most common drinks in Cambodia
Soft drinks in Cambodia
- Iced coffee is ubiquitous in Cambodia. It is made Vietnamese style, freshly brewed and mixed with sweetened condensed milk. Walk past a local eatery any time of the day and you are bound to see at least a table of locals drinking them. One glass costs between 1500-2000riel.
- Iced tea made with lemon and sugar is also refreshing and ubiquitous.
- Fresh coconut can be found everywhere, you could say it is ubiquitous, and is healthy and sanitary if drunk straight from the fruit.
In general, Khmers are not what could be described as casual drinkers: the main objective is to get hammered as quickly as possible. Know your limits if invited to join in! The two domestic Cambodian beers are:
- Anchor — best ordered “an-CHOR” with a ch sound! — and Angkor.
- Beer Lao and Tiger are popular beers with foreigners.
A plethora of other beers include ABC Stout, which is dark and not so bad, in addition to the standard Heineken and Carlsberg.
Many of the cheaper beers are not especially nice, such as Crown or Leo, and only drunk by the locals.
Palm wine and rice wine are available in villages and can be OK at 500-1000 riel for 1 litre bottle. However, some safety concerns have been raised with regard to sanitation, so the local wines may be best avoided.
Bottled water is readily available at 500 riel for a cheap 1L bottle, or double that for a screw-cap. In Phnom Penh tap water is theoretically clean, though most travelers still buy bottles, which is to recommend to do, too.
For a truly Khmer experience, hunt down a bottle of Golden Muscle Wine. Advertised on tuk-tuks everywhere, this pitch-black concoction made from deer antlers and assorted herbs packs a 35% punch and tastes vile when drunk straight, but can be made reasonably palatable (if not exactly tasty) by the addition of tonic water or cola. At US$2 for a 350 ml flask of the original and a budget-busting US$3 for the “X.O.” version, it’s also the cheapest legitimate tipple around.
Are you visiting Angkor Wat during your stay in Cambodia? Read our post on: