This is embarrassing.
I always call myself a budget traveller. The reason why I could travel to so many countries is because I save up, more so when I am travelling. As a frugal student who travelled in Europe for only 35 USD per day (or less), I thought Cambodia would be easy to travel on a shoestring budget as it’s a developing country.
But wrong. I am so wrong. I totally blew my budget in Cambodia.
So here it is.
All the figures displayed here are in USD. So I spent 411.7 for 10 nights in Cambodia – 41.17 USD per night. THAT’S EVEN MORE THAN WHAT I SPENT IN EUROPE (35 USD).
So here’s the breakdown. It’s a toggle section so you can just check out which one you would like to know more about.
This is the only sector of the pie chart that I think I did pretty well. In terms of accommodation, I didn’t use Couchsurfing to look for a couch in Cambodia this time. I only used it to look for people to hang out with.
Instead, accommodation for my whole trip in Cambodia was entirely hostels. Hostels in South East Asia are normally cheap and are in good conditions if you do enough research on which hostel to stay. Most of the hostels I stayed with were pretty nice and the vibes were incredible. I stayed with Billabong in Phnom Penh, Eco Sea Dive in Koh Rong Samloem and Mad Monkey in Siem Reap. You can check out here why you should visit Koh Rong Samloem (my accommodation was a big part of the reason)!
5 or 6 dollars should get you a pretty decent dorm bed in a 6/8-bed room. Walk-in prices are generally 1-2 USD cheaper than the listed prices on various booking sites.
I always eat whatever I want when I am travelling so I have already allocated a bit more of my budget to the food section. I would say 10 USD per day is pretty good if you are a foodie and want to try everything.
I will give you an idea of how much is food gonna cost you in Cambodia:
- A plate of lok lak (stir fry beef with tomato sauce) costs 3 USD. It will cost 7 USD if you eat somewhere in Angkor Wat.
- Fried ice-cream costs 2.50 USD.
- Avocado shake costs 1 USD
- Grilled pork with rice at the street costs 1 USD, whereas ordering the same thing in the restaurant will set you off at 3-4 USD.
- A Cambodian baguette roll costs 1 USD.
There is no train services between cities so if you want to go cheap, bus is the way to go.
Holy mother. I did not know that buses that run between cities can be so expensive. Compared to other South East Asian countries (except Singapore), intercity buses here in Cambodia are pretty expensive.
There are many bus companies that run the major route ie. between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang and Sihanoukville. I picked a better company (Giant Ibis) and I have to say that their buses are really comfy. I could actually sleep on the overnight bus that I took from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. So I guess that’s why it’s more on the pricier side.
From Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, the ticket price will set you off at 15 USD one way per pax. Phnom Penh to Kampot will cost you 8 USD and Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville will be another 12 USD. If you move around a lot, these can add up really quickly.
The cheaper options that you can go for is obviously by opting for a cheaper company. However, I have heard many stories about the bus being overbooked, not having sleeping spaces, driving on dodgy roads and stuff. I do not recommend it.
If you don’t have much time, you could also fly. But bear in mind that there aren’t many budget airlines that fly within Cambodia so it’s quite expensive to fly, even if it’s a one-hour journey from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville.
The entrance ticket to Angkor Wat is the most expensive one. It costs me 37 USD for a one-day ticket. They hiked it up from 20 USD just before I went. I guess that’s what you call bad luck. If you plan to get the 3-day ticket so you can savour the gorgeous temples in Angkor Wat slowly, be warned that you will be paying 60 USD.
My other attraction includes cooking classes, street food tour, hiking, other temples and so on. A street food tour will be around 15 USD. A good cooking class will set you off at 15 USD (20 USD if you wanna cook more dishes). I went with Le Tigre de Papier, and I have to say the cooking class that they offer is of really high standard. PS: You get to wear those hats!
The alcohol section includes pub crawls, bars, clubs and pre-drinking.
It’s really cheap to drink in Cambodia. Generally, it’s 0.50 USD for a pint of beer in restaurants during happy hour along Pub street in Siem Reap. The cheapest alcohol that I’ve found was 0.25 USD for a pint of Angkor beer in a restaurant. Freaking 0.25 USD!
If you fancy cocktail, you can get some really cheap cocktails by the street at the old market area at Siem Reap. There are many street vendors for you to choose from and they normally decorate their stalls with flamboyant lights. It costs 1 USD for a glass of cocktail and they even let you play your tunes if you visit their stalls.
That’s why I still don’t understand how I spent 71.75 USD in just 10 days.
These are stuff like shampoo, toothpaste, gifts, sunscreen, massages and so on. It pretty cheap if you get these from the supermarket.
A full body massage for 60 minutes costs 4 USD (excluding tips). That’s why if you wanna go for a massage, do it in Cambodia. It wasn’t as nice as the one I had in Thailand but it’s still good!
About gifts and souvenirs, you really have to haggle your way. I bought a painting for my friend and the girl quoted me 50 USD. It’s a 8” x 6” painting on canvas! What do I look like? A billionaire? I asked for 5 USD because I wanna see how far can I haggle it down and you know what was the final price? 7 USD. From 50 USD to 7 USD.
That’s why I said you need to really bargain it down, or you can start a war.
So even if you travel to an inexpensive country, you can still blow your budget if you are not careful enough. There are so many moments where I go like “I really don’t know where all my money went”! And I hope that terrible epiphany doesn’t happen to you often.
A very good website that I used when I was planning for my trip to Cambodia is Move To Cambodia. It’s really helpful and there are many tips for different cities.
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Born and raised in Malaysia, Aaron is a medical school student that is deeply in love with travelling. He loves to inebriate all his readers with the crazy travel stories and personal travel tips that he has gathered throughout years of travelling experience. Learn more about him here!