Cambodia

Cambodia is one of the top destinations in South East Asia. With its rich cultural history, lush landscapes, and friendly locals this is a country that has something to offer for everyone.

Prices in Cambodia and the cost per day

Cambodia is a destination where even the most frugal budgeteer can relax and enjoy themselves without worrying too much about spending. If you are up for eating local food, you save quite a bit of money. The restaurants in Cambodia are mostly geared for tourists, so it’s best to stick to street food and local eateries on the side of the road. Mid-budget travelers will be delighted by the luxury options available to them for very affordable price. For more information about how much we spent on our month long Cambodia trip, visit our article “How expensive is Cambodia?”

Cambodia money us dollars
Quite surprisingly, Cambodia uses US dollars as their main form of currency

Budget price range

For a solo backpacker on a tight budget $15 – $25 dollars a day will let you see the sights, indulge in Khmer food, and allow you to put up your hat on a dorm-bed at a guesthouse at night.

Mid-range and luxury travel in Cambodia

For people accustomed to mid-range or luxury travel you can expect to spend at least $30 – $100 per person. This would allow you to stay in high quality hotels, eat at some of the best restaurants in the country, and go on daily excursions and travel around in style.

fish amok khmer food
The national dish in Cambodia is fish amok, a coconut milk sauce fish steamed in a banana leaf

Price of food in Cambodia

The key to eating cheap in Cambodia is to eat like a local. All of the cities offer street food at some real bargain prices. A typical street meal consisting of noodles and meat usually costs around $1.50. Other street food snacks such as crepes, fresh fruit, pearl tea, donuts, and baguette sandwiches cost anywhere between $0.50 -$3.00 and up per item.

Budget dining in Cambodia

The trick to finding the best street food is to look for a place that is popular with the locals and to follow your nose. If the vendor is busy and the food smells good, chances are pretty high that you won’t get sick. If the vendor’s business is slow that could mean the food has been sitting out for a long time and could start to develop bacteria. Food carts that aren’t packed with locals are the ones you should stay away from, as you could get food poisoning.

khmer dancers templee
Khmer dancers performing inside a temple in Cambodia

Mid range and fine dining

If you don’t want to eat every meal on the street, and you probably won’t want to after a while, western food can cost anywhere from $3.00 – $5.00 per plate and the price can go up from there.

For fine dining don’t expect to save too much money since a steak can run anywhere from $10 – $25. There are several fine dining options in most destinations, especially in the cities and the more populated beaches. Generally speaking, if you want to eat Western food in Cambodia you’ll need to pay more money.

boat village khmer local life
A house boat floating on the lake near Siem Reap

Price of accommodation in Cambodia

For people traveling on a tight budget your best bet is dorm rooms and guesthouses. Dorm rooms are shared rooms where you are allocated your own small bed, typically on a bunk bed. These budget accommodations typically cost in the range of $3 – $8 per person. Private rooms can start at around $10 and up depending on the location. Fan rooms are less money than rooms with air-con.

For higher quality lodging you can expect to spend anywhere from $25 up to $150 a night for true luxury. Of course as with most things in life, the more you spend, the better off the room will be. Hotels usually include a breakfast, but not always so it’s best to check before booking. Breakfast can either be a Western eggs and toast plate or Khmer noodle soup (nicer hotels allow you to make a selection off a menu).

One tip for getting deals on a hotel room is to show up in person and ask the owner for a discounted rate. You might be able to get a deal if there is availability (especially during the low season when hotels tend to be on emptier side). If you are staying for multiple nights in one city, you can also ask the hotel for a discount rate. Traveling in the low season has its perks!

siem reap transportation
Local Khmer people jam packed on the back of a motorbike cart!

Transportation costs

For short trips you can usually catch a TukTuk for $2-3 dollars. For a trip in a tuk tuk longer than 30 minutes expect to pay around $8-$12 and up depending on the distance and your destination. You can sometimes book a private tuk tuk for the day for around $25. This rate goes up depending on the amount of people. Tuk Tuk drivers in Cambodia usually speak English very well so getting around usually isn’t an issue especially if you can show them the destination on your phone or in your guidebook.

For longer trips you can take a shuttle or a bus. For example, you can take a direct bus from Phnom Penh straight to Siem Reap and it will cost a quarter of the price of flying.

angkor wat tree temple
The splendid Wat Thom lives up to the hype… it is a surreal sight that is best experienced in person

One of the best bus companies that we took was Giant Ibis. You might have to book your trip the day before since they are very popular, but the experience is worth it! On our bus we had electric outlets for charging our devices and the bus made stops every 1-2 hours for food and restroom breaks, it also had great A/C and decent wifi.

Our shuttle experiences weren’t as good as our Giant Ibis experience since they usually had broken air conditioners and we quite a bit more cramped. We also noticed that shuttles had big discrepancies on the actual arrival time. A trip that should take 2 and a half hours might end up being five.

Another option is booking a private car for around $35 – $50 per hour of driving. You can also fly domestic from Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Kampot among other cities. For the full list of airports in Cambodia, click here.

Top Destinations in Cambodia

  • Siem Reap and the ancient city of Angkor Wat
  • Phnom Penh: The bustling heart of Cambodia
  • Kampot: A slow paced life with a budding food scene
  • Kep: The sleepy seaside fishing town
  • Battambang: A look into the past
  • The Cambodian Islands
  • Koh Rong Samloem: Tranquility & white sand beaches
  • Kratie: The last tribes of Cambodia
  • Sihanoukville: Backpacker haven meets port town

    buddhist monks cambodia
    A coterie of Buddhist monks walking through a temple

Best Things to Do in Cambodia

  • Marvel at the majestic temples of Angkor Wat – this ancient city will mesmerize you with its dilapidated charm and fascinating history. There are over 200 temples in the ancient city, but you can easily visit several over the course of 1-3 days. If you are short on time, you can visit the famous Angkor Wat temple at sunrise and then head over to the stunning Bayon temple where all of the shrines contain faces. If you up for a full day adventure, you can continue on to explore Wat Thom where Angelina Jolie début the incredible tree clad temples that will make your jaw drop in wonderment.
  • Be filled with awe at the Royal Palace  – This is actually where the King of Cambodia lives and this has been the Khmer tradition since the palace was first built in 1860. Try to give yourself the entire afternoon for this site as it is massive. Closed in by walls and guards, the complex is structured into four separate compounds. These four compounds include the dazzling Silver Pagoda, Khemarin Palace, the Throne Hall, and the Inner Court. The beautiful golden tiered rooftops and golden pagoda make for some stunning photos at sunset. Definitely the #1 attraction in Phnom Penh by far.
  • Pay tribute at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – This Prison (also known as S-21) use to be a former high school before it was used to torture and kill twenty thousand of Cambodian. This museum documents the aghast horrors that were carried out in Cambodia by the flagitious Khmer Rouge regime between the years 1975 and 1979.
  • Surround yourself with art at the National Museum of Cambodia – Situated inside a picturesque red wooden Khmer style building with tiered rooftops, this impressive museum is a must visit in Phnom Penh. Inside you’ll find an array of artifacts including real Angkorian statues dating back all the way to the 8th century! The exhibitions even include an area where you can watch the tedious process of restoring recently excavated statues.
  • Fall in love with the riverside – Phnom Penh is not normally thought of as a relaxed city, but taking a walk along the riverside might change that perspective. In the early evening, when the nights are balmy and the breeze begins to blow… families, friends, and even monks stroll along the riverfront to watch the boats pass by. You can even grab a cocktail at the legendary FCC bar which has one of the best views in town!
  • Walk through salt fields in Kampot  – Kampot is a sleepy little river town well known for their salt and pepper fields. One of the best things you can do while in Kampot is to rent a motorbike and visit the salt fields right before sunset. The sight of white salt stretching out for miles and miles in every direction is a dreamlike experience.
  • Swim in crystal blue waters at Koh Rong Samloem – Koh Rong Samloem is one of the quieter islands that doesn’t get much recognition. You won’t find any crazy parties here, but what you will find are glorious white sand beaches and lush jungle. If you’re okay with the idea of unplugging from society and taking a few days away from the internet, this nature oasis awaits you.
Cambodia family scooter
A family waves hello while passing by on their motorbike

Budget tips for Cambodia

  • Eat breakfast at your hotel/hostel or buy some groceries at the local market. Fruit is cheap and widely available. Eating out at a Western restaurant will cost around $3-5, but eating fruit will only set you back $0.50-1 dollar. You can buy a huge watermelon at the market for as little as $0.75 cents USD.
  • Always negotiate and set the price before getting into a tuk tuk. If you just tell them where to go and hop in, chances are the price will be slightly higher.
  • Travel during the low season. Visiting Angkor Wat in the low season means cheaper prices all around for food, accommodation and transportation. If you can tough out some days of rain or extreme humidity, then you’ll be amply rewarded with great deals (and smaller crowds).
  • Book your hotel room or dorm bed at least one day prior.  Many hostels in the backpacker districts of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh have competitive prices. You might be able to find a cheaper price by comparing various websites such as Hostel World, Agoda, Airbnb, and Booking.com.
  • Staying longer in one location usually has its benefits. You might be able to work out a discount with the hotel you are staying at. We asked our B&B for a discount because we stayed for a week.
  • Sticking to local food will help cut costs considerably. Eating out at restaurants can increase the cost of travel by as much as 3x-5x the price.

    Useful Articles & Resources

  • Read our Travel Guide to Koh Rong Samloem Island
  • Read our article Cambodia Cost of Living 
  • Read our article about Living in Kampot Cambodia