Cambodia
comments 6

Top Money Saving Tips To Travel In Cambodia

Cambodia can be a cheap country to travel, if only you know how to keep a right approach and deal with locals the right way. During my travel, I met a few backpackers who were spending over 50 dollars a day, despite living much lavishly. They had no idea where they’re bleeding money. The problem was, they were Europeans, travelling in one of the poorest economies in Asia, with every local eye being set on their bank account.

Travelling does not have to be expensive, particularly not if you’re travelling in a country like Cambodia. I travelled for 20 days here and spent no more than an average of $10 per day (read more about it here). What I did differently? I followed these 7 money saving tips:

Negotiate the right price

Just like any other Southeast Asian countries, negotiation is a daily affair in Cambodia. Expect literally no one telling you the fair price of a product here – particularly those products that are priced for 1 dollar. For a rule of thumb, remember that the first price you’re quoted should come down by at least a third – before you agree upon buying.cambodian-boy

Drink only after 5

I loved how bars and restaurants throughout Cambodia go reckless and offer 1000 Riel ($0.25) beers during their happy hours. It made the entire every day drinking business so much easier, and cheaper. Except for Phnom Penh, where I found the cheapest one for 2000 Riel (still not too bad), the rest of the towns had something on offer for just 1000 Riel. So hit the bar a little early and save yourself big bucks.

cambodia-beer

Avoid Tuktuks

I know tuktuk rides are fun, but they can consume most of your budget before you even realise. Cambodia is a small country and its towns are tiny, you can pretty much walk or RENT A BICYLE (for 4000 Riel a day) to save much of the money. Use a navigation app to avoid walking extra or getting into the trap of tuktuk drivers, every time you ask them for directions.

From Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, most of the tourist attractions in the country, including the Angkor Archaeological Park, can be visited on a bicycle. I explored Angkor Wat for three consecutive days, and completed most of the inner, as well as the outer circuit, on a bicycle itself.

cambodia-tuktuk

Say NO to the night buses

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 this took me through long and uneasy bus rides, but never did I travel in a night bus – for two reasons. One, I was scared to try them, because a lot many people had warned me about getting mugged and losing their valuables soon after they dozed off in one of those buses. And second, because night buses charge almost double than a day bus. Where the basic psyche of a traveller to catch a night bus is to save the daylight for some action and as well as the money, which they’d otherwise lost in accommodation, it doesn’t really work in Cambodia – thanks to their double fares. So, avoid night buses.

buses-cambodia

Eat local

If you can compromise a little on where you eat, you can save yourself a fortune every day. Where local meals in a restaurant can cost a minimum of 16,000 Riel, on street it can be availed in under 6000 Riel. In Phnom Penh you can get a 12 inch Bugget (my favourite breakfast in Cambodia), with a few meat fillers and salad, in under 5000 Riel; a bowl of meat+noodles for 6000 Riel; sodas for 3000 Riel.

cambodia-food

Book your accommodation online

Though offline bookings must be cheaper, given the fact that hotel is not being charged of any commission by the online company from where you book the accommodation, in Cambodia, it is quite the contrary. If you show up in a hostel/hotel, without a pre-booking, and ask for a room, it always costs you a dollar or two extra than its original price. I happened to pay more a couple of times in Phnom Penh because of this, but later I adapted the habit to pre-book my accommodation to save such unnecessary expenses and hassle.

cambodia-streets

Do not apply for an eVISA

Sure getting an eVISA for Cambodia is fairly easier, a Visa on arrival is no hassle either. It took me a maximum of 3 minutes, for completing the VISA process, at the airport, and getting my passport stamped. What’s better is Visa on arrival costs you $30 (paid in dollars), but an eVISA costs you just a little over $65. Though the VISA fee is $35 for eVISA, the payment gateway charges some pathetic hidden fee and makes the overall payment to a whopping $65. Avoid it!

Planning a trip to Cambodia soon? Read Cambodia Travel Guide and learn more about the country.

Subscribe to get useful travel tips and travel resources, delivered in your inbox!

Filed under: Cambodia

by

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!

6 Comments

  1. Take the tuk tuk! Avoiding tuk tuks is really not practical advice. And pay a fair price.
    I live in Cambodia. I love the tuk tuk drivers. They are a highlight of my day. They are mostly warm and generous people who would love to share their country and information with you. They are living on very little money, they are just trying to feed their families, educate their children or possibly educate themselves.
    Being a cheapskate is not the answer to travelling in a developing country like Cambodia.
    Sure, you can take bikes and that is often fun. Do it occasionally. But it is not always practical. Some of the amazing day trips you can do can take an hour or two to get to on a tuk tuk. Most people just wouldn’t do it on a bike.

  2. Hi Dev,

    Sure, evisa isnt the best solution when traveling to Cambodia cuz nowadays almost any nationality can get a 30 day tourist visa upon any land or air border with $30 to $35. However, it could be better if you mention that some nationalities such as middle-eastern can not get that visa upon arrival, they must get it beforehand and only through the embassy of Cambodia.

    Thanks and keep it up

  3. Craig in Cambodia says

    It’s a great tip to enjoy local food. Although there are some amazing gourmet restaurants opening here, there’s nothing like experiencing local spots. If you’re in Siem Reap, hit 60 Road in the evening. Great tastes at great prices, and the money goes to the locals and not to foreign business owners.

    It’s also a good tip not to bother with an eVisa. The visa-on-arrival processing at Siem Reap and Phnom Penh airports is very efficient.

    Booking accommodations in advance and on the hotel or guesthouse’s own site is also wise. Do your homework. Walking in is a risk.

    In my experience, night buses are not significantly more expensive than a day bus, but there are other things to consider, like bed bugs, pick pockets and more dangerous roads.

    And before you negotiate too hard on that local vendor or tuk tuk driver, please consider that for them it’s a matter of survival and for you it’s just stretching your dollar. Cambodia is very poor and that dollar to them means a heck of a lot more than it does to us. Don’t be surprised if that tuk tuk driver lives in his tuk tuk. (I saw it a lot in the early morning on the streets of Phnom Penh.) You might be pleasantly surprised when that driver shares more than you would ever discover on your own, including maybe a trip to his village or to a local wedding.

  4. blogger1 says

    cheap charly are not welcome anymore in Cambodia…
    Give space to chinese, which is a better customer than any other westerner customer…
    Sorry to say that being that greedy during your holidays is just… a shame…

    • Different people, different perspective. You can also look at it this way: the cheaper you travel, the better for the environment. You rent a car, spend 100 dollars (good for local businesses), or you rent a bicycle, spend only 10 dollars (not so good for local businesses), but save the environment.
      You can also look at it this way: You pay big money, stay in luxury hotels, get better experiences; or, you pay just a little (or perhaps nothing at all), stay with locals, and get local experiences. I chose latter. And honestly speaking I do this not because of any reasons mentioned, I do this because I don’t have too much money to spend (not at the moment), but hey, that can’t stop me from travelling! *wink*

  5. Great tips! You forgot to mention that when you eat local you not only save money BUT get the best food and get to meet and talk to the local people (albeit mostly in sign language!) lol We had the best time stopping at local stalls on the roadside, indicating we were hungry and waiting to see what we were served! The local people really love it when you show appreciation for their delicious food – and it is delicious! Smiles all round!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.