Summary of our expenses
- We stayed 30 days in Cambodia
- In total we spent 1370 USD for two persons
- Our daily average for two persons was 47 USD
- Exchange rate: 1 USD = 4000 Cambodian riel (2018)
Food (33% = 455 USD):
We liked the food very much in Cambodia. Coming from Thailand we didn’t think Cambodian cuisine could top the delicious Pad Thai. But to our surprise we ate very well in Cambodia and for a good price. And it certainly is much tastier than the food we ate in Mongolia. For a decent dinner in a local restaurant you pay around 3 US dollar. In more touristic regions like the center of Sihanoukville and Otres beach we paid a little more (4 – 5 USD) for the same dish. You can always go cheaper when eating at local food stalls near the street. The cheapest streetfood we ate was in Phnom Penh. For 1 dollar we got a nice plate of rice with sweet and sour chicken. Typical dishes found in Cambodia are curries, fish amok and fresh spring rolls. Normally this will be served with rice or noodles on the side.
Average prices on daily food expenses:
- Soft drinks: 1 USD (diet coke is more expensive)
- Beer: 0,50 – 1 USD for a draft beer (Angkor and Cambodia)
- Cocktails: 2 to 3 USD for a mojito, whisky coke, etc.
- Breakfast (loaf of bread with scrambled eggs or jam): 1,5 USD
- Snacks (French fries, pack of oreo’s, pineapple or mango): 1 USD
Accommodation (26% = 353 USD):
Finding a place to sleep in Cambodia is a piece of cake. All over Cambodia there are numerous budget backpacker places available. If you have more money to splurge, no worries, look for a hotel name with resort, boutique or villa in its name and your dollars will be gone in no time. Prices vary somehow with the region you visit:
- Siem reap: 10 USD for a private room with aircon is a good deal
- Phnom Penh: 10 USD, same as in Siem reap
- Sihanoukville: 12 USD for a private with aircon
- Kratie: 5-7 USD for a private room with fan, 12-15 USD with aircon
- Koh Rong Samloem: 20 USD for the cheapest option, but also the most memorable: a tent near the beach.
- Otres beach: prices vary a lot! We spent 2 hours looking for the perfect tradeoff between comfort and price. Ultimately we found a bungalow with fan and private bathroom for 14 USD a night. You can find cheaper bungalows for 10 USD, but you get what you pay at Otres… Don’t be surprised to see prices as high as 100 USD a night for a resort.
- Kampot and Kep: 10 USD for a private room with fan.
On the map below you can see where we slept. We always look for budget places with location as our next top priority. So by looking at the map you can get already an idea where you can leave your backpack behind and explore the region in all comfort.
Transport (14% = 198 USD):
All the transportation happened by bus and motorbike rental. This is by far the cheapest option and in our opinion very comfortable. Although Cambodia had the reputation of having bad roads, much have changed in recent years. As our experience thought us, opt for reputable bus companies over private minivans. Once we arranged a minivan to go from Kratie to Sihanoukville… never again! We ended up being packed in a van filled to the roof with everything you can think off (yes also a Christmass tree and a mother breastfeeding her toddler). This “joy ride” lasted for 10 hours (double the time it normally takes with a normal bus).
Budget and comfort tip: don’t trust anyone but yourself when booking transport. As a rule of thumb always trust your guts and logic thinking. Also, always go by yourself to the bus company, arrange the tickets over there and don’t buy them from your hotel owner. The minivan ride we experienced as stated above was arranged by our hotel owner for instance…
Popular routes and their prices:
- Siem reap to Phnom penh: 7 dollar (6 hours)
- Phnom penh to kratie: 8 dollar (7 hours)
- Kratie to Sihanoukville: 15 dollar (8 hours)
- Sihanoukville to Kampot: 6 dollar (3 hours)
Renting a motorbike
The normal renting price for a motorbike is 5 to 6 dollars (except for Siem reap as described before). An excellent way to see the countryside and the more remote parts of Cambodia. Gasoline costs around 0,75 USD per liter.
Tuk tuk’s are awesome! We love them, we even rented a tuk tuk in Sri Lanka ourselves. Getting a tuk tuk is a cheap method of transportation when you’re on a holiday and your amount of time is short. In Siem reap a tuk tuk will take you from the airport to the city for 5 to 7 dollars. As a rule of thumb when asking a driver to take you somewhere, always start bidding at half the price they are asking. You will quickly see by the look on their faces if you bargained to much or are close to landing a good deal. Expect to pay around 2 USD for a short ride (2 km). In Sihanoukville the prices tend to be higher, especially when you want to visit Otres beach. If you’re not a tourist or not part of the tourism industry than you don’t go there. As a consequence tuk tuk drivers use this to their advantage and try to overcharge you.
Budget tip: in Sihanoukville some drivers want to make you believe 1 USD is 5000 riel. Don’t be fooled when you are paying in riel, 1 USD is 4000 Cambodian riel, unless the exchange rates change drastically in the future.
Drinks (9% = 120 USD):
Drinking a beer in a pub is cheap in Cambodia and the beer is more than decent. We never paid more than 1 USD for a draft beer (we liked the brand Cambodia the best). Another popular drink is freshly made lemon juice. It costs as much as a soft drink (around 1 dollar) but is more refreshing and way more healthy. When you’re wandering around near “pub street” in Siem reap there are many stalls selling fruit smoothies. For just 1 US dollar you get a boost of vitamin C freshly made on the spot.
Entrance fee (7% = 90 USD):
The entrance fees are very reasonably priced in Cambodia. We never felt tickets being overpriced.
Angkor wat: 37 USD for 1 day. Even when it costs twice as much as opposed to 2 years ago, it’s still more than worth a visit.
Phnom Penh (Tuol Sleng and killing fields): both memorial museums cost 6 USD. Don’t skip the audio guides they offer as they are of perfect quality. As it left a big impression on us we wrote about the history of Cambodia in the 1970’s. If you really want to understand the history of Cambodia than you have to learn all about Pol Pot and his cruel genocide. Read all about it here: two historical reasons to visit Phnom Penh – Prison 21 (Tuol Sleng) and the killing fields.
Kratie: for 9 USD you can take a boat ride with a guide to spot the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins. By paying this fee you contribute to protect these wonderful species. It’s more than worth it.
Kampot: Bokor hill station is an old French retreat for colonial residents. The park is located 30 kilometers west of Kampot and is a well maintained attraction featuring an old casino, waterfall and beautiful landscapes when riding uphill. It costs around 2 USD to enter with a motorbike.
Miscellaneous (5% = 69 USD):
When traveling in Cambodia we bought some t-shirts and pants as this is the place to stock up on clothes. For 2 USD you can buy a T-shirt. The markets where they sell them are actually a great visit in itself. We liked the central market in Siem reap the most.
P.S. You may ask yourself? Wow, Matthias and Mieke bought a lot of T-shirts and pants for 69 USD. Yep, 35 in total at 2 dollars each (we got the last one for half the price).
P.S.2 Nope, just kidding, unfortunately the rest of the money went to ATM fees… We were not able to find a single ATM without charging extra costs of withdrawing money from our banking accounts. Sometimes we paid 1,5 to 2 % extra on the amount we wanted to withdraw from an ATM.
Visas (5% = 66 USD):
Visas for Cambodia are easy to arrange at the borders. The normal price is 30 dollar, but at many borders the ticket officers will say that the price has changed and costs now 33 dollars… You can refuse to pay this, stay calm and be very patient. If you are in luck they will let you enter for the normal price. If they have a bad day, you can be waiting for 2 hours as they have time on their side.
Tours & guides (1% = 20 USD):
We have to admit that we are not very fond of tours. The reason why?
- We like to travel more independently
- We take our time to do activities and want to explore at our own pace
- 90% of the time it’s cheaper to visit something by yourself
- You feel less like a tourist when you see things on your own
Cambodia is easy to travel in and explore by yourself. Below we give some (budget) tips on how to visit Angkor Wat by yourself:
The temples of Angkor are a must visit when traveling to Cambodia. It’s by no doubt a true world wonder. Situated 7 kilometers from the city center of Siem reap this historical park is easily visited by Tuk tuk, renting a motorbike or bicycle.
- Tuk tuk: the amount of tuk tuk drivers is dazzling. You can’t walk for 100 meters straight or you hear at least five drivers yelling at you: “you need tuk tuk, sir?”. This being said, it must be no surprise that you need to brush up your haggling skills. A good price for visiting Angkor with a driver is anywhere between 10 and 15 USD for showing you the highlights of the park. Your driver will pick you up at your hotel, go to the ticket booth with you and show you the most popular temples like Angkor, Bayon and Ta Prohm (famous for the tree and tomb raider). But don’t expect that your driver will function as a guide, for this price he will only drive you from A to B.
- Bicycle and motorbike: you can rent a motorbike for 15 dollars a day. This is the most expensive price you will encounter in Cambodia. We managed to bargain it to 12 dollars, but only because we rented the motorbike for more than one day. Be sure to check and ask if you can drive inside the park of Angkor with the motorbike you rented. We heard some stories of travelers not being allowed inside the park with some license plates. Better safe than sorry! As for bicycles prices start at 1 dollar a day. We chose for the motorbike simply because the park is huge! If you want to do the big loop you quickly ride 50 km or more.
Conclusion: how expensive is Cambodia really?
Cambodia is an excellent destination that gives you a big bang for your buck. Currently it’s in our top 3 countries we visited so far! With a day expense of under 25 USD per person a day this is hard to beat, considering the amazing country you get to see.
Have any questions about traveling in Cambodia? You can find a lot of answers in our ultimate guide on how to travel to Cambodia. Or leave your comments below and we will gladly help.
Matthias and Mieke