Cambodia
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How Much It Costs To Travel In Cambodia?

A lot of people, before I travelled Cambodia by myself, proposed that Cambodia is meant for budget backpackers. They would ostentatiously boast about how easy it was for them to survive a day in under USD 20. “But USD 20 a day is not cheap,” I’d say to myself. Sure it’s not too bad, but when back home you’re dealing with a currency which is 70 against a dollar (1 USD ≈ 70 Indian Rupees), it’s inevitable for you to moan a little on a daily 20 dollar bill – especially when you’re addicted to the idea of budget travelling! 10 dollars a day would have sounded better. I mean Cambodia is not a kind of place you would want to go for a luxury holiday. You must be able to travel inside Cambodia on almost no money at all!

But managing your accounts can be tricky in Cambodia – for the country has everything seemingly available for a minimum bill of “JUST ONE DOLLAAAAAR” – as Cambodians often quote. A shared ride in Tuktuk – 1 dollar; a drink – 1 dollar; a pack of crisps, bad quality food, half a dozen bananas – everything for 1 dollar, and you lose most of your money before you even realise it.

cambodia-countryside

A Golden Tip – In Cambodia, Never Pay A Dollar

In Cambodia, no one is ever willing to sell anything for less than one dollar. No cents accepted or exchanged. But since its official currency – Riel – is 4000 against USD 1, it can be used as a balance to buy something that is of a value for less than one dollar. But that can be tricky, thanks to a few rich Americans, who don’t care about sparing extra dollars here and there and have the locals spoiled.

For example, a coconut costs 2,000 KHR ($0.50) for locals, but since you’re a foreigner carrying dollars, its price for you is 1 dollar. I remember every time I purchased a 1.5 ltr water bottle, I was demanded a dollar. It was only when a couple of days later when I bought one from a supermarket and was given 1000 Riel back, I found that a 1.5 ltr packaged water costs no more than 75 cents (some supermarkets even sell one for 50 cents). From that moment on, I started negotiating those, and every other one dollar product, for a maximum of 3000 Riel.

[Read: 7 Money Saving Tips To Follow In Cambodia]

bike

How Much Did I Spend While Travelling In Cambodia

Starting in Siem Reap, before heading to Phnom Penh and finally to the coast – I covered most of the spots backpackers tend to frequent and completed a 20-day trip in just a little over 350 dollars. This, however, included two big expenses: one was the visa-on-arrival fee, which required me to pay USD 30 straight up at the airport; and second, a 40 dollar 3-day pass for visiting the temples of Angkor Wat.

Other than that, I happened to squander a little money during an initial couple of days, while I was still studying the country and learning the way it worked. Sure Cambodia was a tough one to crack, unlike Thailand, but once I learned how things worked in the country, it turned out to be a pretty easy deal.

During the days I didn’t do much, it was fairly easier to survive a day in under 10 dollars. This included food, accommodation, as well as a couple of evening happy hour beers.

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Money Breakdown

Accommodation: A clean non-air con dorm charges 2 to 3 dollars a night. For a private room (shared by two people) expect to pay 2 dollars per person. For an air-con dorm bed, 4 dollars are certainly enough. On islands, you can get a bungalow in under 7 dollars.

Food: Basic street food is available for a dollar and a half – and that’s what I had for most of my meals when I was in Cambodia. Restaurant meals start at 4 dollars, which is certainly not too tough to afford either.

Water and drinks: Beers are cheap in the country, and in most of the cities, you can get a pint, during happy hours for 25 cents. The only thing that can spoil your budget a little is water. A 1.5ltr packaged water, in most of the small shops, costs 1 dollar. Even if you buy 4 of those, in a day, you lose 4 dollars straight away. To save a little, you can use a supermarket, some of them sell 1.5ltr bottles for half a dollar. So check a few places to find the right price and save 50% straight on daily water consumption.

Transportation: A ride in tuk-tuk costs somewhere between 2 to 6 dollars depending upon the distance. Bike taxis charge nearly half the price of a Tuktuk. Expect a 5-7 hour journey in a big bus for 6 dollars, including pickup from your hotel.

cambodia-tractor

Here’s how it might turn out for you, in a day: Around 3.50 dollars for three meals. 2 dollars on water. 1-2 dollars on other drinks. 3 dollars on accommodation. This can give you a fairly nice, relaxing day, in under 10 dollars (Islands can cost 2-4 dollars extra). If you’re travelling long distances and/or paying money as an admission fee to museums and other tourist attractions, then it might cost a little more.

More on Cambodia: Cambodia travel guide | Tourist VISA for Cambodia

Filed under: Cambodia

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Shortly after my first real nine-to-five job, I left that lifestyle behind, and with it, everything that didn't fit in my backpack. I've learned that this world is too big (and too interesting!) to stay in one place. I believe that with a little courage and inspiration, everyone has the power to follow their dreams. Just as I've followed mine!

15 Comments

  1. juliuslim says

    Im from malaysia im going pp and siam reap by next month,
    can use my hiking camo backpack to cambodia ?

    which currency is best to use in cambodia?
    dollar or Riel?

    • Riel is best, but changing from Dollar to Riel doesnt help much. So forget the fuzz and use Dollars, you’ll keep getting Riels in your journey, just use that. 😀

  2. Thank you for sharing the cost information for in Cambodia, I will use this for my trip. I will also fly on holiday with my friend to Bali after Cambodia 🙂

  3. Thank you for the article, its good to travel on a certain budget, however, i myself not agree with traveling with a penny on hand. However, im sure there are lots of folks who like to travel cheap and on a tight budget and your article will do for them. thank you Dev

  4. kirtida says

    Hi Dev,

    Whats the deal with the currency there? What currency should I carry from India? Dollars or Riels? And where do you recommend I should exchange money? At Phnom Pheh or Delhi Airport?

    • Dont worry about getting Riels, In Camobodia, dollars work everywhere. At the airport, strictly dollars, they dont accept Riels.

  5. Wow! I am going to Cambodia in Oct End, booked with an Australian Travel Agency! After reading your post, I feel like I am paying insane amount of money for a week!!

    • Paid holidays can be expensive. I never buy them. Buying such a deal means you’re paying for your holiday + you’re paying for a travel company to run. Traveling on your own is easy, particularly if you’re going to a country like Cambodia, where getting a VISA is super easy. But it’s all cool. I am sure you’ll have a good time. Cambodia is amazing.

      • Anonymous says

        Well, I am single woman who loves travelling! Not sure if I can travel all alone 🙂
        But I am going to read all your articles about Cambodia today!!

    • Nice article Dev, however, Ruma, you travel on an organized holiday which is totally different from the back packing way. When i was younger i always travel on my own but now i only prefer to travel with a tour.

      Thank you, keep it up

      • I agree. Moreover the point of writing this article was to convince those who use Insufficient Money as an excuse for not travelling. And I believe once I grow a little older, and have more money to spare, I won’t mind buying a few package deals either 😉

  6. Driess says

    Dev. I live & work in the hospitality industry in Siem Reap. While it is possible to survive on $10 a day, I wouldnt recommend it. You’ll spend a lot of time looking for deals and bartering with locals. You’ll also be staying in average accommodation or hostels.

    • Hi Driess, I had no intention to discourage people from spending money in Combodia. The idea was only to encourage those who use shortage of money as an excuse to travelling. You’re right, travelling on a 10 dollar budget doesnt give you much flexibility, but it (atleast) gives you the freedom (moreover a little inspiration) to travel, even if you don’t have much money to spare. This story doesnt cater to rich French or Americans, but an average Bangladeshi or a Vietnamese or an Indian. Hope I made a point.

  7. Irina says

    Hello, thank you for the post… but does 3 day in Angkor cost 60$? I’ve heard this is the price for the whole week.

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