I adore Cambodia. The people, the scenery, the temples… they all hold a permanent place in my heart. For years, whenever anyone asked me where I wanted to travel to next, the answer was always Cambodia. I now understand why it had such a draw for me. The resilience of the people following the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge is astounding. They have this strength and grace to reflect on the past, but not to let it hold them down. Cambodia is moving forward and I was overjoyed to be a small part of it.
What did we spend? I’ve broken it down below. We had more unplanned for expenses than usual thanks to an emergency visit back to the mainland. I was the unlucky recipient of Salmonella poisoning over Christmas, so it threw a wrench in our budget. I considered not including those costs below, but given the frequency of food poisoning if you’re traveling for a long stretch of time in Southeast Asia, I decided to once again show you the budget ALL IN.
Total Travel Costs for Cambodia
Total Spent: $2,196.98 CAD over 18 days
Average daily travel costs for 2 people: $122.02 CAD ALL in
Cost of visas: $70 USD for both
How did we spend that money?
Transportation: $320 USD / $376.96 CAD / 17% of our budget
Trains are not typically an option in Cambodia thanks to their destruction at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Buses from point to point were pretty cost effective, I found, but where the budget went up was on tuk tuks. You should know this about me by now. I can’t barter for anything and neither can David. We have “sucker” written across our foreheads. Our tactic was usually to get to a hotel in a new city and ask what things should cost. Where we would get screwed was in our tuk tuk to said hotel, where we often ended up paying at least double what it should have cost.
Food & Drink: $488.10 USD / $574.98 CAD / 26% of our budget
Thanks to my lovely bout of food poisoning, we ended up splurging on more western food in Siem Reap. I regret none of it! The food in Siem Reap is to die for and the restaurants are gorgeous. Remember, we were also there over Christmas and New Years. If you can’t splurge then, when can you?
Accommodation: $571.51 USD / $673.24 CAD / 31% of our budget
Unlike Vietnam, there was no accommodation included in our activities here or hotel stays thanks to my Aeroplan miles. Accommodation blew our budget here, again, mainly down to my food poisoning. I’d been a big spender, planning five nights on the idyllic island of Koh Rong off the coast of Cambodia. We were going to stay in a treehouse with nothing before us except glorious ocean. And we did… for two nights. One night of which was one of the worst of my life. The other had the threat of monkeys. Anyways, that was expensive, but it was our Christmas gift to ourselves. Then, when I contracted said food poisoning, we had to switch gears and go back to the mainland. Given my state, I wanted to be in a nicer hotel with – dare I say it – room service? I was not feeling up to leaving the room or venturing far for food. Budget officially blown. Typical costs for accommodation (decent ones) were about $20/night in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh and $12/night in Battambang.
Activities: $64 USD / $75.39 CAD / 3% of our budget
Cambodia was less about zip lining and more about the history for us. What this line item does include is a guide for the day in Battambang who took us to spots like the Crocodile farm, the Bamboo train and the Circus (all of which were extra costs). I adored the Battambang Circus, a social enterprise project that takes kids off the street and gives them skills in performance, art and music. Worth the money for it to go to such a great cause.
Sites: $168 USD / $197.904 CAD / 9% of our budget
You can’t visit Cambodia and not learn about its difficult history. Historical sites that we visited included S21, the Killing Fields, Angkor Wat, the Banon temples in Battambang, and the National Museum in Phnom Penh. This also includes the absolute worst tourist/historical site known to mankind. I wish I’d burned my money instead.
Laundry: $7.75 USD / $9.12 CAD / 0% of our budget
Nothing special. We had laundry done twice.
Miscellaneous: $175.65 USD / $206.92 CAD / 9% of our budget
Ah, the miscellaneous budget item. For Cambodia this included $115 USD for a visit to the international clinic. It was well worth it thanks to the fabulous team of Russian doctors and nurses who rehydrated me with two bags of saline. The world is a better place when you’re hydrated. We also spent a bit of money on souvenirs at another social enterprise project called The Daughters of Cambodia.
Things to Know About Money in Cambodia
- There are two currencies used in Cambodia: US Dollars and Cambodian Riel. If you use a twenty dollar bill to buy something small, you’ll get change in both currencies.
- Watch for the exchange rate. As a Canadian, at the time ‘my’ dollar was in poor shape, so we ended up paying 17% more on everything.
- Whatever country you’re from (other than the US), watch the currency for a few months in advance of your trip. When it’s a good deal, stock up on US dollars to help save yourself money!
- For an idea of what a tuk tuk should cost in major cities, check out this guide. I only wish I’d found it before I visited.
- There are times when it’s okay to spend a bit more money. For instance, when we visited social enterprise projects, I was more than happy to invest a little more in projects that both gave me a good experience and helped the community at large. If you’re able and willing, Cambodia provides plenty of opportunities to give back.
Could you make your trip cheaper? Absolutely and many do. My advice to cut down on costs? Eat street food, negotiate your transportation better and hopefully steer clear of food poisoning.
Have you been to Cambodia recently? What did you think of the prices? Reasonable? How much did you average a day?
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