When travelling around the world or in Southeast Asia, Cambodia remains one of the Asian countries that travellers absolutely do not want to miss! As to why? This was the subject of my first article about the country: visiting the temples of Angkor, the superb wonders, the testimony of the power of the Khmer empire which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! In addition to the articles on Budget Thailand / Budget Laos, I present here the budget travel to Cambodia.
In my opinion, the territory remains a beautiful, very easy and pleasant country to visit. The cost of living in Cambodia, in comparison to neighbouring countries, remains very low. Indeed, it will be very easy to limit your budget even if you spend a month in Cambodia, for example, as I did.
Other articles will follow about the country, including the best time to visit the country and more specific articles on the country’s destinations (Battambang, Kep, Mondolkiri, Phnom Penh, etc.). Everything necessary to prepare your trip should eventually be present on our website. After that, between you and me, planning a trip to Cambodia doesn’t require any crazy preparation. Everything is simple and cheap, so you have nothing to worry about.
For people interesting in culture and history of Cambodia, this will be an interesting travel. What planned then ? Killing fields, Colonial architecture, Cu chi tunnels and ancient temples !
Like most countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is easily accessible financially. The biggest expense to incorporate into your travel budget will be the flight from Europe. Apart from that, once there, you can live on next to nothing…
Opinions are both shared and divided about the country. Personally, it is a country that I liked very much and that I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to discover during a whole month. I also tried to stay off the beaten track, so to speak, which allowed me to make some great encounters.
As always, this article will be mainly used by travellers wishing to prepare their trip to Cambodia independently. A large number of agencies (in Europe and South-East Asia) offer all-inclusive package holidays to Cambodia and organised tours in the country. For all travellers travelling around the world or specifically in Asia, especially backpackers, this article should be very useful to you. An essential information to help you start planning your trip:
Cambodia’s currency is the Riel (Khr). 1€ = 4700 Riel approximately (you can round it up to 5000 Khr for calculations!
I visited Cambodia a few years ago and I made a note of all the prices of my expenses while over there. I have updated as many of the prices as I could in this article to give you today’s prices, for visits such as for the Angkor Wat Temple Pass.
As with a trip to Thailand or Laos, I once again divided the expenses you will incur in Cambodia into five main categories:
- The cost of going to Cambodia
- Travelling around in Cambodia
- Places to stay in Cambodia
- Eating in Cambodia
- Leisure and other activities in Cambodia
At the end of this article, I will give you a summary of your expected daily expenses when visiting Cambodia. I will also try, as best as I can, to give you some idea about the cost of both a 2-week trip and a month-long trip.
However, it’s useful to know that in most tourist areas, people pay in dollars (USD). You can get them from cash dispensers in the cities. Very often, you will pay in dollars, and receive your change in Riel. On the Cambodian border, we found quite a few places where traders accept baht (Thai currency).
To evaluate your travel budget in Cambodia, the first thing to consider is the cost of travel to get there. This is certainly the part of the budget that will be the highest, especially if you come from North America.
Of course, everything will depend on where you live. If you live in Europe, there are quite a few European capitals that offer flights to the country’s capital, Phnom Penh. If you are flexible, prices vary from 350/400€ (Paris, London) to about 500/600€ from other capitals.
From the major cities of the United States (Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco), and also by being flexible, flights to Cambodia can be found for as low as 400$. From Canada, the cheapest flights start at $500/500 Canadian.
If you are on a low budget, it may be interesting to book a flight to Thailand (Bangkok for example) instead. You can then take a bus or train to get to the Cambodian border very easily…
In any case, i will recommend you have a look at this great flight comparison website i’ve been using since at least 10 years. I’m used to booked all my flights through it.
As with a trip to Laos or Thailand, sleeping in Cambodia is very accessible and will not cost you a fortune as long as you stay in one of the small local guesthouses (similar to youth hostels).
To give you an idea of my budget for accommodation in Cambodia over the past month, we slept on average for $6 per night. In fact, if you are careful where you sleep and choose “the least expensive”, you can find rooms at almost $5/night almost anywhere. For this price, you will have a single room, which is clean and has a fan. Not luxury, but enough to suit my tastes. I admit that the concept of comfort varies quite a bit from person to person… That makes an average of 4.6€ per night for 2 people. Come on, we’re rounding up to a little over 2€ per person for somewhere to sleep, not too bad eh?
I would say that, for people travelling around Asia on a small budget for example, they should expect to pay a minimum of 6/7$ per night. Allowing for $10 to be really certain.
Between 10 and 20$, you can find beautiful double rooms with swimming pool available, depending on the location. Paying above $20/25 in Cambodia, I would frankly consider to be “luxury”.
It should be noted that it is also possible to find private accommodation with the locals, for example in an Airbnb or simply couchsurfing. Here is a selection of the accommodation that I know personally, that I have heard about or in which I have had good feedback!
After spending more than a month travelling in Cambodia, here is a selection of my favorite places to stay. I have slept in some of them, others have been recommended to me several times by travellers passing through, and some have been recently tested by friends!
If you will be traveling to Cambodia, transport is one of the things you should know about too. It is important to point out that the country is not very big and local transport is quite easy to use for travelling from one part of the country to another.
Given the size of the country, I don’t really know many people who have decided to take a domestic flight within Cambodia. For information, the country has 3 airports: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville airport, on the south coast of the country. The first two offer flights to Europe. Sihanoukville airport seems to serve only the surrounding countries (Malaysia, Vietnam, China) and provide domestic flights.
It is possible that some tourists that are only coming to see the temples of Angkor, for example, further west of the country, may consider taking a flight from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
In this case, airfares are between 40 and 60$ for a return flight between the two cities (50 minutes flight). It is certainly much shorter than by bus, but between the baggage check-in, taking another form of transport to get to the airport, etc., I’m not sure that it is any more advantageous.
This is by far the most common means of transport in Cambodia, for tourists and Cambodians alike. Overall, the buses are well maintained and in better condition than in Laos, for instance. There are often several price ranges, from the most economical to the “luxury bus”, used especially for long distances. To remind you: 1€ = 4700 Riels.
Here are some ideas of the bus prices in Cambodia:
- Phnom Penh – Kep: $6, 5h,
- Phnom Penh – Battambang : 35000 riel, 6h
- Battambang – Siem Reap : 25000 riels, 3h
- Siem Reap – Phnom Penh : 5,5$, 7h
- Phnom Penh – Sen Monorom : 11$, 9h
As you can see, the distances can be quite long, especially if you plan to so some trekking in remote areas like Mondolkiri (Sen Monorom).
Even though I haven’t used it personally, I know that it is possible to take a train to travel around the country. For tourists, the most famous of these is still the “bamboo train”, a train made out of bamboo, which allows you to visit the rice fields of the Angkor region. At a cost of almost $6, it must be said that it gives you a great overview of the region in a rather fun means of transport!
The Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville link seems to have reopened since mid-2016 and the government would like to extend the rail network from Phnom Penh to the Thai border town of Poipet. According to recent information, the train between the city of Battambang and Poipet will be operational. A must if you are in the area.
In some tourist areas, it is possible to rent a 125cc motorcycle for example for the day or for several days. However, for 5/6$ per day + fuel. Generally, for a standard scooter, you will rarely be asked for your international drivers license, although I would advise you to have it on you…
The only time I tried riding a motorcycle in this country was when crossing from Ha Tien (Vietnam) -> Kep and someone was transporting me. I paid $7 for the three hour motorcycle trip between the two cities.
During your holiday in Cambodia, it is likely that you will take several boat trips, whether to visit the paradise islands in the south of the country, to go for a ride on Tonle Sap lake, or to make a short trip along the Mekong at sunset, etc.
Here are some ideas of the prices:
- Kep -> Ko Tonsay : $9/person/round-trip,
- Boat trip around Kampot at sunset: $5,
- The Battambang – Siem Reap trip on the Tonle Sap: about 25$, 8h.
I didn’t go up that far, but I heard that you could take a nice boat trip around Kratie, on the Mekong River, and enjoy the beautiful beaches along the river.
As in the rest of Southeast Asia, you will find tuk-tuks on almost every street corner. You can use them for tours in the major cities, for example, to go to the beach from your hotel and of course to make the famous visit of the Angkor temples. Here are some examples of the prices I paid:
- Visit of the countryside around Battambang for half a day: 17$ for 2 people,
- The Great Tour of Angkor: $10 a day,
- Temples ruins outside Angkor: $25/day (4 people shared),
- Expect $2 to $3 for a short trip in Phnom Penh for example.
It is also possible to rent bicycles in the tourist areas. Allow $1 for a standard bike at Angkor, for example. For me, it’s the perfect way to leisurely discover the most beautiful sites of this country or to go to the white sandy beaches of the islands in the south of the country…
That’s it, I think I’ve done a tour of the country’s transport systems. With this, you should have a good idea of what you’ll need to get around Cambodia. For the train, do not hesitate to get more up-to-date information on the opening dates for the Battambang to Phnom Penh line.
Suffice it to say, eating in this country will not break the bank. It is a relatively good and cheap place to eat. For backpackers and those on small budgets, you will find countless small local places that sell traditional dishes. Including water, for all meals we expected to spend $6 a day for two people.
Here are some ideas of the prices you can expect to pay in this country for Cambodian food:
- A bottle of water (2000 riels, or $0.6),
- A rice or noodle dish in a street food place: between 4000 and 6000 riels (1-1.5$) -> double the price in a restaurant,
- A Burger King: $6,
- A fresh fruit juice: $1,
- One portion of white rice/sticky rice: 1000 Riel,
- A packet of breakfast biscuits for the morning: 2000 Riels,
To sum up, if you are careful to avoid tourist restaurants, you can get by for 2/3€ per person per day. It is actually the water that is quite expensive (so to speak…), and you will be obliged to drink plenty of it in a country where the temperature doesn’t drop below 30° all day long…
I found overall that Cambodian cuisine is quite good with a mix of Thai, Vietnamese and French influences. I remember in particular all the soups that were sold in the streets in the middle of Phnom Penh…a treat for next to nothing…
Finally, the last of the expenses in Cambodia is the price of the activities. As with the rest of my trip to Asia, I didn’t take part in many of the paid activities…
However, these are some examples of the cost of some of the country’s activities:
- Visit to the Khmer city of Angkor: $37 for 1 day, $62 for 3 days, $72 for 7 days (2018 price). Even if the site is famous for its mass tourism, you will remain speechless during this grandiose visit which deserves a few days of your time. There are also some fabulous sites without tourists
- An elephant ride in Sen Monorom (Mondolkiri): $30/person. With a little hindsight, knowing more about how elephants are treated today, I personally would not do this again…
- Visit of the S21 prison in Phnom Penh: 5$ (Audio guide at 3$/person)
- Entrance to Bokor Park: 2500 riels
- A Mekong river cruise : price with vary a lot from 700 to 1000$ for 3/4 nights.
- Day trip to Koh Rong : 25$
If you are looking for activities to enjoy in this country and want to do things alone, look at what’s on offer for the package holidays and through a local travel agency… Obviously, you will not be able to escape the country’s (and Asia’s) greatest archaeological site: the visit of the majestic Angkor sites.
Apart from that, you can simply idle away the time in a small wooden shack on the heavenly beaches in the south of the country, right?
For those who prefer to book their activities before leaving, here is a site that lists a set of fun things to do during your stay, some of the most typical and some more off the beaten track ones. Here are several of a selection of activities to do in different parts of the country:
For those looking for sport activities in Cambodia, I also recommend this website.
As with the articles about budgets for Thailand and Laos, I end this article by giving you the figures for the month I spent in Cambodia. However, I need to clarify a few things before I start, because the notion of budget can really vary from person to person according to your preferences for comfort, your habits, your desires, etc. Whether you are on a one-year trip or a two-week vacation, is also very different.
- We spent a month in this country on a travel itinerary of Southeast Asia in economic mode,
- Our average budget for the whole trip was 20$/day/person,
- Being in a relationship, we shared all of our accommodation (weird that ☺). If you are alone, it will cost you more….
- As in neighboring countries, we have very often bargained the prices of tuk-tuks, accommodation, etc.
So here are the average expenses for an entire trip to Cambodia, for two people.
I have to admit that every time I write an article on the budget for a country, I am apprehensive… The budget when travelling in a country is quite variable and I am not offering a complete guide on what “budget to expect” while in the country. Everyone will determine this according to their desires, finances, means of travelling etc.
Based on my experience of 25 days spent there, living in a very economical way, it is possible to live on only 25$/day for 2 people. To this you need to add the price of the plane ticket to get you to the country.
I’m going to start with a few figures.
For economic and/or long-distance travellers, you can count about 350$ for plane tickets from the United States and about 13$/day/person (based on my budget in Asia). In total, you will need about 1200$ to spend a month in Cambodia for two people, including the plane tickets.
If you prefer to allow for a larger budget, expect 30-40$/day/2 people.
For shorter periods (I recommend a minimum of 2, or even 3 weeks there anyway), including local expenses (excluding tickets), based on my experience:
- 165$ per week for 2 people in economy mode
- 225-275$ if you want to allow for other eventualities,
- 350-400$ if you do want to live it up! Just between us, to spend 60$ a day in Cambodia for two people, you would have to stay in a luxury hotel (or almost), eat in a restaurant 3 times a day and do all the paid activities available….
Finally, the last point that you must take into account if you are on a long trip is insurance. You are sometimes covered with a credit card for 3 months, but for travellers who leave for a year or more, it is quite essential. There are all kinds of international health insurance available to meet your needs depending on your trip. I haven’t made a comparison of the different insurances for a round the world trip, but you can find a lot of information on the various websites out there. Many factors come into play such as the countries you are travelling through, your age, etc. Allow between 40 and 70$ per month at the very least!
Well there you are, I hope that this article will help you in the preparation of your budget for your trip to Cambodia. If you are on a world tour, don’t hesitate to check out the article of the cost to travel to Thailand, it could also help you to understand the cost of living over there.
As for me, I plan to go back on a family trip to Asia and I will be tempted to revisit Cambodia, particularly those places off the beaten track, those that I did not have the opportunity to discover during my first trip. I am thinking in particular of the more mountainous region in the north-east of the country.
For those who know the country, what did you plan as a budget for your stay? In your opinion, when traveling, is the budget the most important factor to take into account?
See you soon and I wish you a good trip!