All the well-known soft drinks are available in Cambodia. There are also a lot of lesser known drinks for sale, most of them produced in other Asian countries. Locally produced mineral water is about 500r per bottle, cheaper if you buy six-packs.
In Phnom Penh, tuk leak (ice) is produced with treated water, but the transportation of it in huge blocks often involves dragging it along the ground. Most people don’t worry about this though and it shows up in most cold drinks. Drinking tap water is to be avoided, especially in the provinces.
Coffee is sold in most restaurants. I t is either served black or cafe au lait – with dollops of condensed milk, which makes it very sweet. Chinese-style tea is popular and in many Khmer and Chinese restaurants a pot of it will automatically appear for no extra charge as soon as you sit down.
Tikaloks are popular throughout Cambodia. They are a little like fruit smoothies and make a great way to wash down a big meal in the provinces. Stalls come out for the evening usually near markets and the drinks cost about 1000r to 2000r. Watch out for how much sugar goes in if you don’t like sweet drinks, and pass on the offer of an egg if you don’t want it super frothy.
The local beer is Angkor, which is produced by an Australian joint venture company based in Sihanoukville. While not quite up to the standards of Beer Lao, it is a pretty good brew and costs from US$I.S0 to US$2 for a big bottle in most restaurants and bars. Most Khmer restaurants have a bevy of ‘beer girls’, each of whom represents a beer brand. They are always friendly and will leave you alone if you prefer not to drink beer. Brands represented include Angkor, Heineken, Tiger, San Miguel, Carlsberg, VB, Foster’s and Grolsch. Cans of beer sell for around US$I in restaurants.
In Phnom Penh, foreign wines and spirits are sold at very reasonable prices at supermarkets. Wines start at about US$4, while the famous names of the spirit world cost between US$6 and US$I O.
The local spirits are best avoided, though some expats say that Sra Special, a local whiskey-like concoction, is not bad. At around 2000r a bottle it’s a cheap route to oblivion. There has also been a surge in the popularity of ‘muscle wines’, with enticing pictures of strongmen on the labels and names like Hercules, Great Strength and King Kong. They have more unknown substances in them than an Olympic medalist and should only be drunk with care.
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