Cambodia is one of South East Asia’s hotspots, commonly visited on a typical Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos backpacking trip, and also drawing visitors from all over the globe to visit the famed Angkor Wat temples in Siem Reap.
It’s other appeal is that its quite cheap to travel – you can get around on the smallest of budgets. Cambodia has some of the best value accommodation in Asia, as well as cheap street eats and western style cafes. Transport, whilst not of the best standards, is cheap and frequent. Most of its sights are largely free or inexpensive to visit.
We like to travel on a budget – finding the best flight deals, the best value accommodation, and how to get from A to B in the most cost effective way. However, we also like to splash out on things that make life a little easier – like private rooms as we’re travelling as a couple, and eating out at nice places. Call it ‘flashpacking’ if you like.
I visited Cambodia for the second time with my friend Alecia. Together we decided that for her, the trip was definitely more of a holiday so we were happy to pay for those little extra luxuries – accommodation with a pool where possible, and air-conditioning as we were travelling in the middle of summer and wanting down-time as much as we wanted to sight-see – so we wanted somewhere nice to retreat to.
I documented EVERY SINGLE CENT I spent in Cambodia, a 12 day trip for one person. All accommodation and transport (tuk tuk’s) costs were split by myself and Alecia, everything else was the cost for one person. Whilst this is not on a tight budget, I’ve included tips on how you can save even more money when travelling Cambodia.
Please note all costs listed are in Australian Dollars.
Expense #1: Cost of Flights to Cambodia
We flew to Cambodia from Kuala Lumpur with budget airline Air Asia. Air Asia flies to both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh once or twice every day. We didn’t pay extra for meals, seat selection or for checked luggage.
- Kuala Lumpur – Siem Reap: $51.62
- Phnom Penh – Kuala Lumpur: $112.82
Total cost of flights: $164.44
Budget Tip: Don’t fly! You can easily enter Cambodia via any of its land borders, from Thailand, Laos or Vietnam via bus. If you’re already on the road, this is the cheapest way to enter the country.
Expense #2: Cost of Accommodation in Cambodia
As mentioned, we booked twin rooms where we had our own bathroom, air-conditioning, 3 out of 5 had swimming pools and also included breakfast. It was important for us to have our own space as a retreat after a hot day of exploring. My share of the costs were:
- Siem Reap x 2 Nights in HOTEL: $23.00
- Battambang x 2 Nights in HOTEL: $29.00
- Kampot x 2 Nights in HOTEL: $18.50
- Kep x 2 Nights in HOTEL: $32.00
- Phnom Penh x 3 Nights in HOTEL: $55.50
Total cost of accommodation: $158.00
Budget Tip: If you’re a solo traveller, there are hostels aplenty all throughout Cambodia, with dorms costing as little as $3 USD per night. Guesthouses can cost a little more, with a few extras. Overall, accommodation in Cambodia is very good value and you can find options with luxuries for a good price.
Expense #3: Cost of Transport in Cambodia
Transport is a cost you’ll encounter just about every day in Cambodia, whether travelling long distances by bus in between your destinations, taking tuk-tuks around the local area, or hiring your own transport.
- Long Distance Buses: $37.00
- Local Tuk Tuks: $55.52 (shared costs)
Total cost of transport: $92.53
Budget Tip: We could have saved a lot more money on tuk-tuks by staying in more central accommodation – we’d often have to pay to get anywhere close to places to eat as it wasn’t walking distance. Always be sure to bargain with the tuk tuk driver, and never take taxis. Alternatively, if you’re confident on a bike, they can be hired for as little as $4 USD a day.
Expense #4: Cost of Food in Cambodia
It can be super cheap to eat in Cambodia, with plenty of street food available. You can also easily blow the budget by taking advantage of the many ‘Happy Hour’ deals offered by just about every restaurant in town. There are also many Western restaurants around, serving food at Western prices so its important to shop around for something more local. There are plenty of NGO’s employing local youth that are well worth a visit.
- Total cost of food (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks): $182.78
- Total cost of drinks (mostly water): $27.46
Total cost of food and drinks: $210.24
Budget Tip: Street food is your cheapest option for meals, and you’ll also find that street stalls sell cheaper drinks, like water and soft drink – this is where to stock up, rather than buying with your meals in a restaurant. Avoid chains, as these tend to be geared towards tourists and have higher prices.
Expense #5: Cost of Entertainment in Cambodia
Entertainment and once in a lifetime experiences are always something we’re happy to pay more for whenever we travel. Entertainment is not a huge cost in Cambodia, but we did attend PHARE – a circus in Siem Reap that provides employment for local youth who have been trained at a performing arts school in Battambang. All profits go into schooling and teaching these youths.
- Total cost of entertainment: $23.38
Expense #6: Cost of Sightseeing in Cambodia
Most sights in Cambodia are either free or relatively inexpensive to visit. Your biggest cost will be your visit to Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap.
- Entrance to Angkor Wat, including transport & guide cost: $77.92 (transport & guide cost was split)
- Half day sightseeing in Battambang, including bamboo train: $9.09
- Bokor National Park tour: $12.99
- Sightseeing in Phnom Penh (Tuol Sleng, Cheoung Ek) $15.58
Total cost of sightseeing: $102.59
Budget Tip: You can easily visit Angkor Wat in one day, saving money on a pass, and look at taking cheaper transport and not use the services of a guide – they’re really only necessary if you’re super interested in the history of the temples. Avoid tours like the plague in Bokor, and visit on your own.
Expense #7: Miscellaneous Costs
Our extra costs that cropped up:
- Purchase of Sim Card with 5.5GB of data: $6.45
- GoPro Stick (mine broke!): $15.58
- Toiletries (sunscreen, shampoo, etc) $12.99
- E-Visa to Cambodia: $45.48
Total miscellaneous expenses: $80.50
Expenses Grand Total: $844.67 or $70.38 AUD Per Person, Per Day
So there you have it, every single cent I paid on my ‘flash packing’ trip to Cambodia. You can easily spend much less than this – as little as $50.00 AUD or less. It all comes down to what it is you’re willing to pay more for, and what you’re happy to skimp on.
I always find Cambodia a little difficult to travel. I struggle with the heat, with motion sickness, and suffer from food poisoning often. For me, paying that little bit more for air-conditioning, for a nicer, bigger bus, and for a meal in a more established local restaurant is well worth it for an enjoyable trip.
Either way, it’s a cheap country travel that offers good value for money and world-renowned sights. Whether visiting Cambodia on a long term backpacking trip on the cheap, or splashing out on a holiday, it’s affordable for every one and I hope this guide has given you a clear picture on what it costs to travel Cambodia!
Have you visited Cambodia? How did you budget for your trip? Please share your tips in the comments below!