How expensive or cheap is Cambodia? The answer just might surprise you. The Cambodia cost of living is subject to debate because the budget for locals versus travelers can differ greatly. Nate & I were excited to finally step foot in Phnom Penh, a city that most travelers we had spoken to either loved or hated. We were also eager to experience the majestic Angkor Wat in Siem Reap as a present for my 31st birthday.
In this article, I will breakdown exactly how much Nathan & I spent throughout our one month trip traveling through the western coast of Cambodia. I’ll cover accommodation, food, entertainment, sightseeing, transportation, and miscellaneous items. By the end of this Cambodia cost of living article, you should have a pretty good idea of how much things cost.
Note: Nate and I are on a budget, but we sometimes opt for the finer creature comforts such as mid-range accommodation and restaurants. On the other hand, we enjoy eating local street food and trying out cheap hotel rooms to save money. I would say that we are a blend between a budget traveler and a mid-ranger traveler. We love to bargain and are always on the hunt for a travel deals.
Cambodia Cost of Living
Is Cambodia worth traveling to? Yes!
After watching several Cambodian Youtube videos and reading a handful of blog articles, I was faced with a lot of contradictory information about Cambodia cost of living. Some travelers glorified the country as being the “$1 store of Southeast Asia,” while other travelers sniveled about “Scambodia” being one of the worst places to visit, and advised others to skip it entirely.
The only information I had about Cambodia that I knew I could trust was from my brother who told me it was his favorite place in all of Asia. He added that I would regret not going while I had the chance.
In the end, my brother was right. While Cambodia may not have been the cheapest country I’ve traveled through in Southeast Asia, it certainly was one of the most beautiful and memorable trips we have ever taken. Cambodia cost of living might be as volatile as their national currency, but it doesn’t prevent you from having a great trip. By putting in the extra effort, hunting for deals, and finding cheaper places to eat at… you can easily make Cambodia work within your desired budget.
Why do we love Cambodia so much? Cambodian culture is rich and well-preserved, Cambodian people are the friendliest we have ever met, and all of the Cambodian food I tasted was absolutely amazing! Although our Cambodia cost of living was a bit higher than we expected, it was still an affordable trip.
Our budget for Cambodia
We weren’t sure how much money we were going to need, but we tried to target a rough budget of approximately $50 a day for the two of us. We ended up going over this amount almost everyday as the Cambodia cost of living ended up being more expensive than we anticipated.
We ended up spending an average of $80 per day (or $40 per person) which came out to approximately $2420 total for the two of us. This overall price includes flights into and around Cambodia as well as visa costs (which is discussed below).
Flights In & Out of Cambodia
Nathan & I always book with AirAsia because they are a low cost airline that is reliable and offers many different routes throughout Southeast Asia. You can sign up on their website for their newsletter so that you can be notified of any flash deals or coupon promo codes.
Cambodian visas are notoriously easy to acquire and extend.
The cost of a visa on arrival in Cambodia is $30 for a tourist visa and $35 for an extendable “Ordinary” visa. This “Ordinary” visa use to be called a “Business visa” but the government has changed the name. Basically you are able to extend this Ordinary visa as many times as you want, which is a great thing to know if you plan to stay long-term.
We opted for an Ordinary visa which cost us $35 each. We choose this visa so that we could stay longer if we wanted (we were planning to maybe stay for an additional two months) but we decided to leave after one month due to the high cost of living. If you are planning to stay no more than 30 days, it’s best to just get the cheapest tourist visa which only costs $30. If you’re planning to live here long-term, then visa extensions should be calculated into your overall Cambodia cost of living.
Tip: Make sure to bring a standard sized passport photo and crisp American dollars to the airport.
Our Spending on Flights & Visas:
Flight from Bali to Cambodia $95 per ticket x 2 people = $190
Visa on arrival (tourist) $30
Visa on arrival (ordinary) $35 per visa x 2 people = $70
Rent & Hotel costs – Accommodation
There are many different price ranges when it comes to accommodation in Cambodia. I will break down the cost according to the style of accommodation and by the city. Our Cambodia cost of living for accommodation is located at the end of this section and is a mixed bag between basic hotel rooms, fancier B&B’s as well as a modern apartment.
Dorm Room – $5-8
Basic private room – $8-15
Mid-range private room – $20-25
Luxury private room – $30+
Phnom Penh – Hostels are a great option for travelers on a strict budget. In Phnom Penh, dorm beds can be found for as little as $7 in a mixed dormitory (male and female). A private room at a hostel (with AC and a shared bathroom) will cost around $20.
For mid-range travelers, a nice boutique hotel room will only set you back $25. Nathan and I found an entire apartment in Phnom Penh for $25 on Airbnb. We lived close to the central market (which is great location) and were very happy to have AC in our room as the heat was at an all time high in April.
When we returned to Phnom Penh for a second time during our trip, we decided to book hotels which cost around $20-25 for a room with AC/hot water and this included a nice breakfast.
Nate and I stayed at a cute little hotel called Baraka for only $11 a night. We actually found this room on Airbnb (so make sure to check multiple sites before booking to see who has the best deal). Airbnb does make you pay for cleaning and service fees so it’s cheaper to book once you arrive.
We rented a fan only room (no AC) equipped witha cold water shower. April is the hottest time of year to visit Cambodia, so dealing with a fan room was a little challenging but we managed. While walking around town, we saw dorm beds for as little as $6 and private AC rooms for as little as $17. We ended up loving the hotel we were staying at because they have a Spanish tapas bar below which was phenomenal and the owners were very friendly.
There are a lot of budget options to choose from on the Cambodian islands. An average bungalow on Koh Rong Samloem costs between $25-70 depending on the resort you select. I have also seen some basic bungalows on the water for $5.
The resorts on Koh Rong Samloem also offered dorm beds for $15 (a double bed could fit two people). The more expensive side to stay on was the white sand beaches of Sancrean Bay, but cheaper options can be found in M’pai bed where dorm beds are $6 and rooms start as little as $10. Read our Travel guide to Koh Rong Samloem for more details on where to stay.
You can get a basic dorm room in Siem Reap for as little as $5. A popular choice is The Siem Reap Hostel which also offers double rooms for $34 as well as a deluxe all female dormitory for $10.
Private rooms at a hotel start at $8 for a fan only room with cold water and roughly $20 for a room with AC.
Since Nate and I both work from home, we need a place with reliable internet and a place to work. We decided to rent a modern apartment in Siem Reap (Airbnb) for a total of nine nights and it costs us $22 a day. After speaking to some expats, I found out that the average rent for a modern apartment in Siem Reap costs between $350-550 depending on the size, location and amenities. If you’re staying longterm in Siem Reap, the price of accommodation goes down slightly.
Our Spending on Accommodation:
Phnom Penh: $173 (7 nights)
Kampot: $149 (11 nights)
Siem Reap: $200 (9 nights)
Koh Rong Samloem: $90 (3 nights)
Total: $612 for 30 days
Watch our Video
Here is a quick vlog we made which shows how much we spent on an average day in Phnom Penh. We normally don’t spend so much for lunch, but this place was surprisingly pricey. In this video, we cover how much it costs for our hotel, eating out, laundry, medicine, water, and shopping for clothes. We actually made an entire Cambodia vlog series which you can check out on our Youtube channel Nate & Adriana.
If you have a problem loading the video, you can watch the full video on our Youtube channel here.
If you eat what the locals eat (Khmer food) the cost of dining is far less than if you eat Western food. Nate & I enjoyed eating a mixture of local Khmer food as well as Western food. The price of food was surprisingly more expensive than we thought it would be.
Most locals do not eat at restaurants, but cook their own food at home. Most restaurants that you see are catering just to tourists and consequently the prices are higher than what the locals would pay for food. If you manage to find a local restaurants, the prices will be a fraction of the price.
Local Street-food Style Lunch (noodle dish with meat): $1.50 per dish
Economic Lunch: $3.50 – 5 per dish
Mid-range Lunch: $6-10 per dish
Fine-dining (Khmer & International): $12-15 per dish
Nate and I typically ate out either once or twice a day at a restaurant. An average meal at a mid-range restaurant cost us about $20 for two people which we thought was pretty high.
For breakfast, we ate at our hotel if it was included in the room price, or else we would just eat granola from the grocery store. If you want to eat local food, Khmer noodle soup stalls as well as donut vendors selling on the side of the streets. Local breakfast cost between $1-2 while eating out at a restaurant normally costs $3-5.
Nathan & I had a full Western style kitchen at our apartment so we were able to cook meals at home. We opted for this whenever we were sick of eating out. Here are some random prices to give you an idea of the cost of groceries.
French wine: $6-8 per bottle
Can of Beans: $2
Can of Tuna: $2
Instant Coffee: $4
The local markets have a great selection of fresh veggies and fruits. You can find great deals on local produce at the morning markets. Prices are set and very fair.
Bunch of bananas: $1
Whole roasted chicken: $4
3 Mangos: $1
Our Spending on Food:
Total for one month: $1183 for two people (this breaks down to $19.71 per person per day)
Nightlife in Cambodia
Cambodian nightlife is happening no matter where in the country you are. The locals and expats all enjoy having a good time. The good news is that liquor is very cheap in Cambodia!
Nate & I enjoy having the occasional drink to unwind from our work day. To save money, we would either buy a bottle of wine at the grocery store or purchase cans of beer on the street. If we did go out to the bars, we weren’t stretching our budget too far becuase the cost of liquor is very affordable in Cambodia.
Cocktails (well drinks) cost as little as $1.25 and beers are only 0.50 cents if you buy them on the street. A beer at a bar normally costs $1-2. A glass of wine costs $3-4. There are lots of happy hour “Buy 1 get 1 free” promotions throughout all of Cambodia so keep an eye out for those which can keep costs down significantly. Consequently, Cambodia cost of living is not negatively impacted by the cost of liquor as it is incredibly affordable.
Here is a list of the prices as of 2017 for the top attractions in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
The Grand Palace: $10 ticket
National Museum of Arts: $5 ticket
Tuk tuk to Choeng Ek Killing fields & S21: $20
Tuol Sleng (Genocide Museum S21) Prison: $3.50
Killing Fields: $3 entrance fee ($3 additional fee for audio tour)
Angkor Wat 1 day ticket: $37
Angkor Wat 2 day ticket: $62
Angkor Wat 3 day ticket: $72
Tuk tuk to Angkor Wat: $15 (half day) $20 (full day)
Our Spending on Sightseeing:
National Museum of Arts: $5 ticket x 2 people = $10
Angkor Wat 3 day tickets $72 x 2 people = $144
Angkor Wat Tuk tuk driver for three days: $60
Cambodian transportation is usually very affordable and there are plenty of options whether you prefer to fly, take a bus, or rent a private car. The best way to get around Phnom Penh is via a tuk tuk which are cheap and fun. The best way to get around Siem Reap is by walking since everything is close together, but renting a bicycle is another great option. If you make your way to Kampot, we recommend renting a motorbike so you can do some exploring outside of town. Surprisingly, transportation is one of the cheapest categories in this Cambodia cost of living breakdown.
Motorbike rental: $4 per day (not available in Siem Reap)
$2 for a short ride under one mile around the city in either Siem Reap or Phnom Penh
$8-10 from the Phnom Penh airport to the city center
$6 from Siem Reap airport to city center
Air-conditioned VIP Bus: $16 Phnom Penh to Siem Reap Giant Ibis
Renting a bicycle: $1 in Siem Reap
Speed Boat: $25 from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem
Our Spending on Transportation:
Boat ride to Koh Rong Samloem $25 x 2 people = $50
Bus Ride from Phnom Penh Siem Reap $16 x 2 people = $32
Misc. Tuk tuk ride (not including Angkor Wat private driver)s: $25
Motorbike rental in Kampot: $4 per day x 11 days = $44
Co-working Spaces for Digital Nomads
There are two Cambodian co-working spaces in Siem Reap with fast internet and air con. These co-working spaces were created to serve digital nomads who come from all over the world to work in Cambodia. The upside of living and working in Cambodia is that the visa situation is very easy. Cost of living can also be considerably lower for those living long-term in a single location. The prices in Siem Reap are also a little bit cheaper than the big city, Phnom Penh. Lastly, the way of life and atmosphere in Siem Reap is much more relaxed than the capital. There are many digital nomads who flock to Cambodia for the convenience of easy visas, cheap food, and great nightlife. The reasonable Cambodia cost of living is an attractive attribute when it comes to bootstrapping a business.
The cost of this co-working space is $5 per day or $89 per month. They also offer on-site accommodation as well as a Skype room and hammocks to chill out in.
The cost of this co-working space is $10 per day or $140 per month. This is the perfect place for artists who are interested in showcasing their work. They even offer yoga classes and art gallery rental space.
Travel Hacks to Save Money in Cambodia
- Negotiate tuk tuk fares before hopping in- this guarantees that there won’t be any confusion on the total price at the end of the ride
- Become a “genius” member on Booking.com in order to see last minute deals and special promo offers. Nate & I stayed at some very fancy hotels that normally cost $60 a night for only $25 a night by booking last minute deals (the day before) on Booking.com
- If you’re booking an Airbnb, message the host to see if they extend a “special offer” (which essentially is a discount on the original price). This typically works best if you are staying for a week or more at a single location
- Everything is negotiable! Make sure to bargain when shopping for souvenirs. The first price is always higher than what they expect you to pay.
- Cambodia cost of living – You can lower your expenses by eating at the farmers markets. There are a ton of fresh fruit vendors selling cut fruit as well as baked goods. There is usually a food court area where you can buy fried noodles, a bowl of soup or a smoothie
Useful Articles & Resources
- Read our Guide to Cambodia
- Read our Guide to the Cambodian islands: Koh Rong Samloem
- Read our article about Living in Kampot Cambodia
I love Cambodia. We had a terrific trip and encourage everyone to visit Cambodia at least once in their lifetime. Seeing Angkor Wat is something you just have to do.
Our overall spending for one month in Cambodia wasn’t too bad. Although we did go over our budget a little bit, it was mostly because we were doing a lot of sightseeing and eating at nice restaurants. Cambodia cost of living is subjective. In the end, everyone has different lifestyles so my costs might not be the same as the next traveler. Our Cambodia cost of living was a bit high but that could be in part because we were doing a lot of sightseeing and we were eating at nice restaurants (we love food, did you know that?). All in all, Cambodia does have options for all ranges of lifestyles so you’ll be happy no matter where you go in this beautiful country. Mid-range selections might be a little bit more limited, but they are still there. Backpackers and luxury travelers will be spoilt for choice. Are you planning a trip to Cambodia? Let me know in the comments below.