Getting laundry done in Phnom Penh
Arriving in a city with bright electric lights and chic residents can bring the realisation that your attempts at handwashing have not been doing your grandma proud. Fortunately, Phnom Penh has a glut of laundries just waiting to take your crumpled bundle and turn it into a fresh smelling, beautifully pressed stack.
Almost all guesthouses and hotels offer a laundry service, with the bonus that you don’t have to take your dirty washing public. But if you’re balancing the bucks, you may save a little by going elsewhere. Laundries charge either by the kilo or per item. Usual prices are $1 to $1.50 per kilo, which is a much better deal if you have underwear and socks in your load. It’s worth checking which charging system is used before committing the entire contents of your backpack. Clue — if they get scales out, it’s per kilo. If they start to count, it’s per item.
Apart from in the big hotels, machine dryers are unheard of. Generally, your clothes will be fresh air dried, so for the quickest turn around go early in the morning. Remember that during the rainy season, drying will take longer.
It sounds simple, but do hang onto your laundry ticket and take it when you go to collect. Living across the road from a laundry has made me an expert on these matters, observing dejected or desperate visitors searching pockets and wallets for that elusive scrap of paper. Fresh clothes are usually served up ironed and folded in a clear plastic bag. It’s worth doing a quick visual check to see if anything obvious is missing. You may also have become the proud new owner of a pair of Calvins that aren’t yours. Mistakes are usually easily resolved but if not, remember Buddha’s teaching — attachment to possessions leads to suffering.
For clothes that need special attention, Hotel Cambodiana‘s laundry service is the expat staple. The service kiosk is outside the front gate and operates a same-day service if you drop off before 10:00. For the truly clothing impaired there’s even an express service (drop off by 14:00, collect the same afternoon). They do general laundry ($2.80 for a shirt) and dry cleaning ($7 for a cocktail dress and $9 for a man’s suit) as well as pressing (that’s ironing to you and me!).
If your threads come back a little too threadbare, it may be time to hit the markets or go upmarket on Sihanouk Boulevard.
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