Until Burma reaches a point of real reform and starts getting the promised foreign investment coming in, Cambodia will hold the crown as the best travel value in Southeast Asia. What you get for your money is unbelievable sometimes, yet you don’t have to go way off the beaten path to find the bargains.
In Cambodia you can travel in a manner that feels way above your budget. If you spend $30 on a room it’ll come with air-con, maid service, a great breakfast, TV, fridge, and maybe even a pool. If you spend $5 on a meal it’ll be in a pretty nice restaurant and probably include a beer or two. If you have to break down and take a tuk-tuk or taxi across town, that’ll set you back two or three dollars. So naturally, if you’re used to doing everything on a shoestring and want to keep that going, you can really make your budget last by hanging out here for a month.
Without the vast distances you have to navigate in Indonesia or even Vietnam, you can get to most anywhere you need to go the same day.
Here are some sample prices for Cambodia, from my mid-range family trip this past summer, from my notes, and from articles and blog posts I bookmarked before and after. Almost everything is priced in U.S. dollars here—even in the supermarkets—so you rarely use local currency.
Hotel & Hostel Prices in Cambodia
This country has gone from being critically underserved on lodging to being in the midst of a building boom, so there’s plenty to choose from in every price range. You have to negotiate on the spot to get a private room without paying the two-person rate: couples or friends traveling together get a better deal. A triple or family suite is generally just 1/3 more than a double at cheapie places, even less at nicer ones. Some hostels have free laundry, almost all have free Wi-Fi.
Hostel bed: $4 -$7, usually including Wi-Fi, sometimes breakfast
Cheap double room, fan-cooled, shared bath: $5 – $12
Cheap double room, air-con, private bath: $8 – $18
Mid-range room with hotel amenities, maid service, breakfast: $16 – $50
Deluxe room with elevator, bellhops, pool: $40 – $200
(There are very few hotels where guests pay more than $200 per night for a standard room. When I searched Siem Reap hotels on Trivago for two weeks from now I only found 8.)
Food & Drink in Cambodia
This is where you really get the full benefit of local pricing. As long as you eat what’s grown in the region and don’t need a daily fix of imported items, this is a place where you can eat out three meals a day and spend less than $5 if you go where the locals go. Step up to a nicer restaurant with waiters and you can still get a meal for a few bucks. Often our family of three would completely chow down on multiple courses in Siem Reap and I’d have a few beers, my daughter would get a fruit shake. The bill would come and it would be $11 or $12.
Street or market stall meal: 50 cents to $1.50
Basic restaurant main dish: $1 – $3
Nicest non-hotel restaurant in town, meal for two: $35 – $60 with a bottle of wine
Draft/bottle beer: 50 cents/75 cents – $1.50/$2
Soda or coffee: 50 cents – $1.50
Fruit shake: 50 cents – $1.50
Cocktail: $1 – $4
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh by boat: $35
Same route by bus: $6 – $13 (working A/C and Wi-Fi).
Bus from Phnom Penh to the beaches: $4 – $6
Taxi from Phnom Penh to the beaches: $50 – $60 (up to 4 people)
Bus to Saigon, Vietnam: $6 – $14
Bus to Thai border from Siem Reap: $9
Taxi to/from Thai border to Siem Reap: $30 – $48 (up to 4 people)
Flight to Vietnam: $100 – $300
Tuk-tuk ride: $1 – $2 local, $10 – $16 for the day
Taxi: $1 – $4 local, $15 – $50 for the day depending on distance, negotiations. (If there’s a meter, $1 per 2kms)
Motorcycle taxi – $6 – $9 around Ankor Wat for the day.
Motorbike rental (not allowed in Siem Reap): $6 – $25 per day, weekly rates are cheaper.
Bike rentals: $1 – $3 per day
Other Traveler Prices:
Angkor Wat region admission: $20 one day, $40 three days, $60 one week
One-hour massage: $5 – $8
One-hour four-hand massage: $10 – $15
Manicure/pedicure: $3 – $5
Laundry service: $1 – $2 per kilo
Local tours: $15 – $35 per person
Mobile phone Sim card: starts at $5
(Illegal) MP3 albums/movies: $1/$2
If you want to move to Cambodia to live for a while, you can’t buy property without partnering up with a local, but you can get a 99-year lease, which works for most people. International Living says you can rent a 2BR beach house in Sihanoukville for as little as $150 a month and get by there on $525 a month total in living expenses.
Related post with pics: What $50 a night gets you for a hotel in Southeast Asia