Cambodia is a country filled with captivating contrasts, from the awe-inspiring ancient architecture of Angkor Wat to the bustling streets of Phnom Penh and the enchanting tropical islands in the south. With its abundance of nature, history, and culture, it’s no wonder that Cambodia has become a favorite destination among backpackers. In this budget guide, we will not only reveal how much it truly costs to travel in Cambodia but also provide you with essential insights, including suggested backpacker budgets and the cost of essentials like beer!
Suggested Budgets for Traveling in Cambodia
If you’re a shoestring backpacker, Cambodia is a dream come true! With a budget ranging from $25-35 USD per day, you can enjoy decent dorm accommodations, indulge in delicious street food, take exciting tours, and even treat yourself to the occasional beer. Even transportation options like boats between Sihanoukville and Koh Rong won’t break the bank!
For those seeking a more lavish experience, falling into the “living it large backpacker” category opens up a world of possibilities. With a budget of $35-60 USD per day, you can afford to stay in affordable private rooms, savor a diverse range of cuisines, indulge in unlimited tours throughout Cambodia, and truly embrace the best that the country has to offer.
If you’re a flashpacker looking for a truly luxurious experience, Cambodia will feel like paradise. With a budget of $70+ USD per day, you can immerse yourself in the most exquisite hotels, resorts, and spas, while embarking on an endless array of trips and adventures. In Cambodia, with a budget like this, you’ll want for absolutely nothing!
The currency used in Cambodia today is the Cambodian/Khmer Riel (KHR). Cambodia, like its neighboring countries, uses the US dollar interchangeably with the riel. Cambodians often have little trust in their currency due to the country’s history and prefer to transfer their wealth into a more reliable currency like the US dollar or gold and silver. As a rule of thumb, for purchases over a dollar, use dollars, and for purchases under a dollar, use riel. Tipping a local with a $1 USD note can go a long way and make their day.
How Much Does a Trip to Cambodia Cost?
Cost of Street Food in Cambodia
Street food in Cambodia may be overlooked, but it offers a myriad of delicious options. A simple rice dish will cost you around $2 USD, while a small baguette, similar to a Vietnamese Banh Mi, will be just under $1 USD. While some travelers express concerns about the sanitary conditions of street food carts in Cambodia, paying attention to a high turnover of customers ensures that the food is fresh. If you’re on a tight budget, you can easily sustain yourself by indulging in street food.
Cost of Restaurant Food in Cambodia
Eating out in Cambodia doesn’t have to revolve around street food carts. The country boasts a wide range of restaurants catering to all budgets. While high-end options are limited to major cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, most affordable restaurants offer meals between $2.50-6 USD. Popular tourist spots like Siem Reap’s Pub Street may have slightly higher prices. If you’re craving a taste of home, the good news is that Western fast food is readily available and only slightly more expensive than local dishes.
Cost of Water in Cambodia
Tap water in Cambodia is not safe to drink due to heavy metal contamination. A bottle of water can be purchased for around $1 USD, but prices may vary depending on the location. To reduce your environmental impact, you can consider investing in a filtered water bottle that makes tap water safe to drink while saving you money during your trip.
Cost of Beer in Cambodia
Cambodia knows how to do cheap booze! A large bottle of locally brewed beer from a shop won’t cost you more than $1 USD, and even from a bar, it may be as little as $3 USD. Imported beers are slightly more expensive but still affordable. When traveling, it’s best to stick to local beers to save even more money.
Cost of Accommodation in Cambodia
Cambodia is known for its cheap hostels, with prices often ranging from $1.50-16 USD per night for a dorm. While some may be less desirable, it’s essential to read reviews before booking. During low season (May-September), you can even find accommodations without prior booking, allowing you to negotiate for better prices. For those seeking more privacy, private rooms in hostels start at around $7 USD per night. Hotels in Cambodia vary in price, with options ranging from $7-50+ USD per night. With such great options available, there’s little need to spend more unless you’re looking for luxury.
Cost of Transport in Cambodia
Transportation costs in Cambodia vary depending on the distance and mode of transport.
For short distances:
- Taxis in Phnom Penh are usually metered, but prices may vary slightly depending on the time and season. Some drivers may refuse to use the meter, so it’s advisable to know the approximate cost or find another taxi if necessary.
- Buses in cities like Phnom Penh start at around $0.40 per ride and can go up to $1 USD.
- Tuk-tuks, a popular mode of transport in Cambodia, typically cost $2-3 USD for short trips or slightly more for longer journeys, such as going to Phnom Penh Airport. It’s also possible to book tuk-tuks for the day if you’re visiting places like Angkor Wat.
For long distances:
- Buses serving major routes cost approximately $2.50-7 USD per hour of travel. Opting for tourist or luxury minibusses is recommended for a more comfortable and enjoyable journey.
- Flying within Cambodia is not recommended unless you’re extremely short on time. Buses are a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly option.
Cost of Activities in Cambodia
Various activities and tours in Cambodia offer unique experiences, and the prices may vary accordingly. Here are a few examples:
- Angkor Wat and the Angkor Archaeological Park: Entry prices start at $40 USD for one day, $62 USD for three days, or $72 USD for seven days. Transportation options like tuk-tuks or bicycles can be arranged to explore the vast complex.
- Killing Fields: Entry to Choeung Ek, known as the Killing Fields, costs approximately $6 USD per person. Audio guides and guided tours are available at an additional cost.
- Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21): Entry to this former high school turned prison and interrogation center costs around $5 USD, with the option of an audio guide. The museum offers a chilling reminder of Cambodia’s dark history.
- Tonle Sap Floating Villages: Boat tours on Asia’s largest lake, the Tonle Sap, usually include transportation to and from Siem Reap and range from $19.50-45 USD.
- Daughters of Cambodia Visitor Centre: A visit to this organization, which helps free Cambodian women from sex trafficking, is free. However, supporting their café, shop, or spa is highly encouraged, with prices ranging from $5-20 USD.
For more detailed information and ideas, you can check out our suggested Cambodia itinerary and explore bookable trips in Cambodia.
To dive deeper into Cambodia travel budgets and connect with fellow travelers, head over to our vibrant South East Asia Backpacker Facebook Community!
Remember, Cambodia offers a remarkable array of experiences, and with careful budgeting, you can create unforgettable memories without breaking the bank. Happy travels! Ekilove