We spent 14 days in Cambodia and averaged $77 /day or $38.50 per person per day. Cambodia is a beautiful country that is a great value. It is also one of the poorest countires in the region. There are lots of things to do in Cambodia which is why our expenses for Activities is higher than in Thailand or Indonesia.
Where we spent our money
Shelter – $22 /day
Accommodations in Cambodia were really great. For $20-$40 per night, you can get fantastic rooms in places with great service. We spent about $22 per day for accommodation in Cambodia and stayed in some really nice places. Perhaps one of the best hotels we stayed at on this trip was the Golden Butterfly in Siem Reap. For about $25 per night, we had an amazing room with A/C, balcony with a decent view, free bike rentals, free coffee ALL DAY, and an amazing staff that provided top notch customer service.
TripAdvisor is king in Cambodia.
Agoda was typically the cheapest option to book through.
Eats – $21 /day
Food in Cambodia is more expensive than Thailand, and not as diverse as Malaysia, but given the French and Vietnamese influence, there are lots of culinary delights to indulge in. Nowhere in Cambodia will you be more than a stones throw away from a decent baguette. And cheese, which is a rarity in Southeast Asia, is actually something that is quite common.
We liked the food so much, we even took a cooking class while in Siem Reap (see Activities).
Activities – $19 /day
There are loads of things to keep you busy in Cambodia. Some are free, but many are not.
Angkor Wat Complex – $80
One of our biggest expenses for activities was visiting the Angkor Wat Complex which cost us $40 per person for a three day pass. While we had some sticker shock at this price, it is worth it. There is so much to see in the Angkor Wat Complex you can easily spend the full three days viewing countless temples. We highly recommend biking around the very large temple complex!
Phnom Penh Bike Tour – $78
Normally, we attempt, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully, to conduct DIY tours, but this time we opted to get a professional tour with Grasshopper Adventures in Phnom Penh. We were a little hesitant about the initial cost, but as soon as we hopped on the bikes, we knew it would be worth it. The guides are great, the bikes are top-notch, and the tour takes you to places you would probably never find on your own or by looking in a guidebook.
Cambodian Cooking Classes – $31.50
We decided to take a cooking class at Le Tigre de Papier which is both a long standing restaurant in Siem Reap and cooking school. For $15.75 per person, this was a great way to spend the afternoon. Plus, you get to eat all the delicious things you cook. Not only do they provide instruction preparing an appetizer, main course, and dessert that you want to make, they also give you a nice short tour of the Old Market and talk about some of the local ingredients.
Tip: We’ve read a lot of reviews that talk about not being able to hear on the Market tour. Taking a class later in the day should help with that since most people shop at the market in the morning.
Yoga – $50
We attended 10 yoga classes at the Angkor Zen Gardens which was a great way to relax and start the day. Bruno is great and runs this retreat center which offers drop-in classes and free meditation in the morning. If you get a chance, try the food there. It is very delicious!
Movie Night – $7
We caught a showing of The Grand Budapest Hotel at The Flicks, a little expat movie theatre in Phnom Penh. Make sure get their early or book ahead, there is limited seating.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – $6
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is located at the location of the security prison known as S-12 during the Khmer Rouge regime. Of the 17,000 prisoners who saw the inside of this prison, there are only 12 known to have survived, 0.07%. This is truly a powerful and sombering place.
Transport – $10 /day
With no working train, transportation in Cambodia consists of tuk-tuks for local transport and buses for long distance transport. The tuk-tuks are great, the buses…eh…not so much.
Our three long distance bus rides cost about $92 and hiring tuk-tuks cost about $35. As I mentioned above, our hotel in Siem Reap offered free bike rentals which we used daily. This was a big help in saving money for local transportation. Check out TravelFish for some good ideas for where to bike in Siem Reap.
Other – $10 /day
We stocked up on bug spray since we were in malaria and dengue areas and also did some shopping for gifts to take back home. As always, our World Nomad travel insurance ran about $4 per day.
Biking or Walking
Biking or walking around town can save you quite a bit on tuk-tuk rides. But beware, it gets hotter than hell during the day, so try and plan your day for early morning and evening adventures. An added benefit to this schedule is that you miss the tourist crowds!
Like Thailand, you can’t drink the water from the tap so you must purchase all your water. Rather than purchase single use water bottles, we used the same approach we took in Thailand and purchased a large 5 gallon jug of water and used that to fill up our nalgene containers.
Cambodia has countless scams. Just crossing the border overland from Thailand was a stressful mission, but once in Cambodia there are still lots of scams to watch out for. And unlike Thailand, we didn’t get out unscathed.
We were eating dinner one evening when two monks, at least they looked like monks, swept in, put bracelets on our wrists and said some quick “prayers.” Afterwards they held out a money jar and we knew we just got scammed. $1.30 later, we ended with some string bracelets which have turned into a personal reminder for us, and a another story to share.