- DAILY AVERAGE
As mentioned in my financial wrap-up for China, we fully realize that this article is hardly entertaining, but hopefully it will provide some help to those looking to budget for their trip to Cambodia (or for a much larger trip through Southeast Asia like what Jamie and I are currently doing). So without further ado, here is how much you can expect to spend in Cambodia.
Below I’ve outlined our accommodation expenses, food expenses, as well as the cost of getting from one city to the next – in case you’re planning a similar route to what we did. I’ve also laid out the costs for all of the entrance fees, tours, and activities that we did while in Cambodia. Below the costs, I’ve outlined a few notes to help add a bit of perspective to this list and a few tips to help keep your expenses down when travelling through Cambodia.
NOTE: All costs are in Canadian Dollars, and are per person. As of Dec 12, 2013: $1 CAD = $0.94 USD
TOTAL DAYS IN CAMBODIA: 11 days
$26.48 (we paid $25 USD, in American currency… although this amount varies depending on how you are arriving, and at what border crossing) See Note 7: Crossing The Border below for details.
Accommodation Total = $52.80
Accommodation Average per night = $4.40
Food Total = $155.18
Food Average per meal = $4.85
Average cost of small can of Angkor beer = $0.75
Tuk-Tuk (Bus Station to Central Phnom Penh) = $2
Tuk-Tuk (within Phnom Penh) = $1
Tuk-Tuk (Phnom Penh to Killing Fields) = $6
Bus (Phnom Penh to Battambang) = $8
Tuk-Tuk (Battambang to Bamboo Train, Bat Cave + Return) = $6
Bus (Battambang to Siem Reap) = $5
Tuk-Tuk (Tour of Angkor Wat for the day) = $15/tuk-tuk ($7.50 for two people)
Tuk-Tuk (within Siem Reap) = $2
Tuk-Tuk (Siem Reap to Banteay Srei, Kbal Spean (distant Angkor attractions) + Return) = $15
Bus (Siem Reap to Thailand (Bangkok)) = $11
Tuol Sleng Museum Entrance (Phnom Penh) = $3.50
Royal Palace Museum Entrance (Phnom Penh) = $6.13
Killing Fields Entrance (Phnom Penh) = $6
Bamboo Train (Battambang) = $5.38
Phnom Sampeau (Killing Caves and View of Battambang) Park Entrance = $3
Bat Cave lower viewpoint (Battambang) = FREE
Angkor Wat (Siem Reap) = $20 USD for 1 day; $40 USD for 3 days (most popular); $60 USD for 1 week
Like its eastern neighbour Vietnam, Cambodia is without a doubt classified as budget travel and perfect for those on a tight budget. However, there are still a few things to keep in the back of your mind that will aid in saving you a few bucks here and there.
1. TUK-TUK’S VS. GUIDED TOURS:
In Cambodia, tuk-tuk’s (little wooden carts pulled by a man on a motorcycle) are a fantastic way to get around and are a dirt cheap alternative to guided tours. For instance, when visiting the temples of Angkor Wat, it’s possible to rent a tuk-tuk to haul you around the massive land-mass for as little as $15 for the entire day. The drivers are more than familiar with both the small circuit as well as the big circuit (the various tours you can do within Angkor Wat), and will bring you to the nearest restaurant or bathroom at your request. If you can get a group of 4-5 people together, you can split the cost of the tuk-tuk and reduce how much each person pays. If you have trouble finding a tuk-tuk driver that will offer $15/tuk-tuk for the day, the Siem Reap Hostel employs tuk-tuk drivers who are guaranteed to charge this fixed rate. Paying visit to this hostel will allow you to hire one of the $15 tuk-tuks, no problem.
2. AN APPROPRIATE TIME AT ANGKOR WAT:
Don’t be fooled in to thinking that you need to buy the week-long pass at Angkor Wat for $60 if you don’t plan on visiting the temples for 3 days in a row. You can request a 3 day pass that you can use over the course of a week for $40, which should be more than ample time assuming everyone in your group is capable of walking for multiple hours without the need to frequently stop or rest. If you’re fast, you may even be able to do more than enough in one day ($20 per person), especially if you get up early enough to see sunrise at Angkor Wat, trek around to the bigger temples in the morning/afternoon, and squeeze a few of the smaller ones in before sunset. However, if you plan on seeing EVERYTHING, you will not be able to do this in one day. To see Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean (which in my opinion were underwhelming, but nevertheless part of Angkor) will take a day for transport alone. I’d personally recommend the 3 day tour. It’ll allow you to slow down a bit and appreciate what you’re seeing. A 2 day pass for a bit less money than the three day pass would be ideal, but as it doesn’t exist, the 3 day pass is the best bang for your buck.
3. CAMBODIAN RIEL VS. USD:
There are two currencies commonly used in Cambodia: Cambodian Riel and the USD. Generally (for tourists), prices are listed in USD and anything less than $1 USD is paid in Cambodian Riel. You might not be able to do this everywhere, but at small street stalls or local kitchens/restaurants, ask for the price in Cambodian Riel. It’s common for prices in Cambodia to be rounded up a dollar or two when converted from Riel to USD.
4. NEVER STOP BARTERING:
We managed to get our tuk-tuk from Siep Reap to the Killing Fields reduced from $20 per person to $6 per person by means of bartering. Gas costs next to nothing in Southeast Asia, especially for filling up a motorcycle whose tank is significantly smaller than a normal sized car. The guy still got $12 total from us and the round trip probably only cost him about $1-2. It was a good deal for all parties involved. When shopping at a night market, negotiating with a tuk-tuk driver, and even when trying to find a happy hour deal for dinner, you’ve got to barter to get a fair price. If you feel that a price is too high, don’t be afraid to state a price that you’ve been offered elsewhere and see if the seller can match. If the seller reacts to your suggested price as if you’re crazy, walk away and gauge their willingness to come down as indication of where your offer stands. If you’re being unreasonable, they won’t be chasing you down the street with counter offers. If you’re in the ballpark, believe me, you’ll know it.
5. LOCAL FOOD VS. WESTERN FOOD:
Consistent with most other places in Southeast Asia, local food is much less expensive in Cambodia than western food. One of the most expensive dinners that Jamie and I had while in Siem Reap was when we gave in to the temptation to order fish and chips and a western chicken dish, respectively. Both were terrible and overpriced. While in Battambang, we visited a local kitchen called The Noodle Man, every day for lunch and spent no more than $2.50 each, per meal. It remains one of the most memorable (and delicious) whole in the wall spots we’ve found while in Southeast Asia.
6. BOOKING IN ADVANCE VS. BOOKING ON ARRIVAL:
In Cambodia, we didn’t particularly notice much of a difference between what hostels were available for on hostelworld vs. booking on the spot upon arrival. In fact, Cambodia has been the cheapest country for us thus far in regards to accommodation and we booked every single place on hostelworld prior to arriving. More so than anywhere else, we noticed numerous travellers being turned away upon arrival due to capacity and roaming from place to place for the best deal. For some towns such as Battambang which have relatively few decent hostel options available, I would suggest booking in advance on hostelworld to avoid staying in a dump.
7. CROSSING THE BORDER:
Although crossing the border went quite smoothly for us (both in to Cambodia from Vietnam, and out of Cambodia to Thailand), we have heard numerous stories from travellers in Southeast Asia who were pressured to pay a surcharge to Cambodian border guards on top of their VISA fee. First of all, this is a scam and it may range anywhere from $5-$30 USD on top of your VISA fee. The fee for a tourist VISA is $20 USD, although many travel agencies will include a VISA application service if travelling in to the country by bus. We booked with such a travel agency in Ho Chi Minh City, and everything was taken care of for us. All that we had to do was hand the bus driver our passport as well as the VISA fee and he single handedly ensured that everyone on our bus got through with no problems. We received our passports back when stepping back on to the bus in Cambodia. I still don’t exactly know what happened during that hour at the border crossing, but after seeing my passport stamped a couple of times, countless papers flying around, and our bus driver speaking with the border guards over what seemed to be every passport, I’m glad I paid an extra $5 to have the whole thing taken care of for me. For additional information on crossing the border in to Cambodia, check out this article on Lonely Planet.