Is Cambodia Expensive: A Complete Guide To Spending There

Is Cambodia expensive
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Is Cambodia expensive? You may be asking this question if you’re planning a trip across to this Southeast Asian country. Good choice. It has so much to offer, from incredible temples to white-sand beaches on barely touched islands, from sunsets on Tonle Sap Lake to pepper plantations and the salt fields of Kampot. Well, we’re here to talk about how much it costs to experience all that…

This guide will run through the ins and outs of the travel costs you may encounter on your trip to Cambodia. You’ll learn about the average price for hotels and get an insight into some of the best accommodation at each end of the scale. We’ll talk about how much you should budget for things like food, transportation, and entertainment. You’ll also get some helpful tips on how to save a few bucks while traveling across the ancient Khmer land.

Seasons make a huge difference in most of Asia and Cambodia is no different. You can find huge discounts during the wet seasons and, on the flip side, inflated rates around Christmas and New Year. This guide is based on average prices during the dry season, excluding the times when the rates are unusually high (major holidays and the like).

How much is a holiday in Cambodia?

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Photo by Joanna Kaczmarczyk

Whether you’re planning to stay in luxury retreats on Koh Rong Sanloem or backpacker hostels by Otres Beach, you will notice that things cost less here than in most Southeast Asian destinations. In fact, Cambodia is among the cheapest travel destinations in the world, so you can be sure to get a lot for your money. Although the Cambodian riel is the official currency, there is no need to exchange your cash. The majority of places use dollars, including the ATMs, which even give out US currency.  

We’d estimate the cost of a week-long holiday to Cambodia to be around $350 per person if you’re traveling as a couple. This amount is based on the prices for accommodation ($18 per day), local transportation ($6 per day), food ($13 per day), and entertainment ($12 per day). If you’re traveling between towns and cities, you should expect to spend about $87 per person depending on where you’re heading.

This estimate doesn’t include flights in and out of the country, though they heavily depend on where you’re flying in from. Also, if you’re planning to travel solo, you will need to account for some extra costs on top of that, especially for single rooms and taxis. Accommodation prices will also heavily depend on the type of hotels you choose. Those five-star beachfront retreats could cost hundreds of dollars, but you can also get a bed in a hostel for $3 a night in Siem Reap and other towns. 

The cost of getting to and around Cambodia

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If you’re arriving in Cambodia from overseas, you will likely land in either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Unfortunately, neither of these airports is large enough to have true long-haul connections, so most travelers fly with a layover in either Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, China, or Vietnam.

Flying from Europe will cost around $700-$1,000 return in the peak season and flights from the US start at around $800 both ways. You will often have to book short-haul connections from other Southeast Asian destinations with low-cost airlines to connect over. Those often charge extra for baggage, so it can up the price of your trip considerably.

Although getting into Cambodia can be pricy, getting around the country won’t cost too much. There are plenty of good value bus companies out there, so you don’t need to book far in advance for the best deals. Giant Ibis Bus Cambodia and Mekong Express companies are the safest and most reliable firms frequently used by travelers. You should expect to pay around $9-$12 for a one-way ticket on the most popular routes (something like Siem Reap to Phnom Penh).

The prices you’ll pay for local tuk-tuks will often depend on your bargaining skills, but they don’t usually cost more than a couple of dollars for anywhere in the same town.

Is Cambodia expensive for hotels?

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Photo by Joanna Kaczmarczyk

Are hotels expensive in Cambodia? The answer to this question is no. There are places to stay in Cambodia that will suit all budgets, even the very tight ones. There is no shortage of backpacker-friendly accommodation, especially around Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. On the other end of the scale, there are also some five-star retreats with infinity pools, which can cost a lot more than the country’s average.

Generally, you will pay a little more for spots on the picturesque Koh Rong Islands, but there are still plenty of affordable stays to be found. The average price that travelers pay for accommodation in Cambodia is $18 per person, per night, but that can change drastically depending on where you stay.

Here are some of the best stays at each end of the budget in the most popular locations:

  • Onederz Siem Reap ($) – One of the best-rated stays you can find in Siem Reap. A bed in a dorm can cost as little as $5 a night! Onederz Siem Reap is a cool hostel with a rooftop pool overlooking the city near the night market. 
  • The Big Easy Phnom Penh ($) – A backpacker-friendly hostel in Phnom Penh. The cheapest options start at $5 per person.
  • BeachWalk Koh Rong ($$) – Stylish beach cabanas by the turquoise waters of Koh Rong Island. There is also a large pool if you’re not too keen on bathing in salty water. The prices start at $80 per couple, but that includes a lovely breakfast
  • Metta Residence & Spa ($$) – A great value boutique hotel with a spa in Siem Reap. Their rates start at $68 a night with breakfast for two people.
  • Song Saa Private Island ($$$) – This is the most luxurious spot in all of Cambodia! Expect private, overwater villas that come with their own infinity pools. This stylish resort spreads over two private islands near Sihanoukville. Expect to pay big dollars, though. Prices range from $1,800 to over $6,000 a night!

Is Cambodia expensive for food?

Photo by Joanna Kaczmarczyk

Not much in Cambodia is expensive for Western travelers and food is no exception. You will never have a problem with understanding the prices, either, because the vast majority of restaurants have their rates in US dollars. On average, travelers spend around $13 a day on food, but that can go up and down depending on where you decide to dine.

Although Khmer cooking isn’t as famous as Thai or Vietnamese, there are plenty of tasty treats out there. Usually, the local stuff will cost you less than Western food that you’ll easily find in the most popular destinations.

The good thing is that, as with many other destinations in Southeast Asia, there are plenty of street-food stalls and markets where you can get the best value eateries. Expect to pay around a dollar for the most basic things like Cambodian Pad Thai, rice rolls, or a baguette from a street vendor, and $2-$12 for a dish in a restaurant. 

Is Cambodia expensive for nightlife?

Pub Street Siem Reap
Photo by Sumit Mangela on Unsplash

Alcohol is very affordable throughout the whole country so it’s not expensive to enjoy Cambodia’s nightlife. Anchor Beer is the most popular beverage, and it usually costs around a dollar for a can in local restaurants. The liveliest spot on Cambodia’s map of nightlife is the iconic Pub Street in Siem Reap, which is dotted with backpacker-friendly bars. They have a reputation for super-cheap alcohol – we’re talking as little as $0.50 a pint.

Partying in other popular place such as the capital, Koh Rong Island, or Kampot isn’t expensive either. You can easily have a couple of drinks throughout the night without spending more than $15 per person.

The cost of things to do in Cambodia

Koh Rong Island
Photo by Joanna Kaczmarczyk

If you’re visiting Cambodia, you’re most likely planning to explore Angkor Wat, a massive temple complex and a symbol of the country pictured on their flag. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest religious monument in the world, so if you want to see it all, you might need more than one day.

These days, the cost of a one-day pass is $37 per person, unless you’re a Cambodian national, in which case you get a free entry. If you need more time, you can buy a two-day pass for $62, or a seven-day pass for $72. As you may have noticed, you get more value for money the longer you go, but it can get exhausting wandering around these temples in the Cambodian heat after some time. You also need to add the cost of getting there, which most people do as part of a tour, which means a few dollars should be added on top.

While in Siem Reap, you could also take a tour around the floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake for around $15-$30 per person. But when you head south to the capital, Phnom Penh, you may want to learn about Cambodia’s dark history. The entrance fee to the Killing Fields is $6 with an audio tour and $5 to enter the Toul Sleng Museum S21, a former school that was used as a prison by the Khmer Rouge regime.

Thankfully, lazing on the beaches of the islands is totally free!

Money saving tips in Cambodia

Woman in Cambodia
Photo by Angkor Feel on Unsplash

Even though Cambodia is one of the cheapest destinations in Southeast Asia, you may want to save a few more dollars if your budget doesn’t stretch far. Here are some things you can do to keep the costs down while exploring the Khmer land:

  • Exercise your bargaining skills – Whether it’s a price of a tuk-tuk or jewelry at the Russian Market in Phnom Penh, the price of many things in Cambodia isn’t set in stone. Negotiate hard to get the best prices, which are usually inflated for tourists.
  • Eat at street stalls – Local food from street vendors is way cheaper than restaurants aimed at tourists. Avoid Western food if you don’t want to pay over the odds.
  • Don’t book tours in advance – Book your tours locally to get the most competitive prices. You will always find better deals if you shop around.
  • Don’t travel solo – Single people will always have to fork out more for things like hotels and transportation. If you’re a solo traveler, it’s not hard to find other fellow travelers willing to share the cost.
  • Stay in hostels – You can cut a lot of your spending by opting for cheap hostels and homestays. There are loads of hostels out there that have swimming pools and private rooms (they are known as posh-tels in Southeast Asia), so there is no need to spend extra money on hotels.
  • Book your accommodation in advance – It’s worth using websites like Booking.com to score the best deals. It’s not uncommon in Cambodia that online rates are much lower than those in person. Or, at the very least, means you won’t have to haggle when you arrive!

Is Cambodia expensive? The conclusion

Is Cambodia expensive? The simple answer to that question is no, it isn’t. In fact, it’s one of the cheapest destinations in the world, but that’s not to say that it’s impossible to drain your budget there. You can easily find cheap accommodation and food, wherever you are in this beautiful country. But, if you choose to stay in 5-star luxury resorts, your budget won’t stretch that far. Eating Western food rather than local will also be more expensive, so watch out where you dine if you’re on a shoestring.

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