Cost of living in Cambodia
The cost of living in Cambodia is low. What a wonderful sentence to read as someone interested in a visit! Local food is very cheap, very accessible, and full of flavour. Yay for adventurous dishes that don’t break the bank. Not too different from other parts of South-East Asia, if you find yourself a local’s house, garage, or stall, you’re in for a treat at a price that hardly seems fair.
Transport is wonderfully cheap. However, it is not the most glamorous. It probably also isn’t the safest transport you’ve had either – but that’s all part of the rickety, bouncing, swerving charm. A massage won’t cost you more than USD 5.
Accommodation can be attained for as little as USD 3, and a local beer around the corner will set you back but one dollar. Yes, things here are at the lower end of things. Furthermore, coming into the country from the Western world only makes the transition to 10c donuts seem almost ethereal.
Prices in Cambodia
Transport in Cambodia is a cheap, well-connected and relatively stress-free affair. Typical of countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia’s transport industry offers the tourist several options. The experienced and bold can ride the busses, the wary and uncertain can hop into a taxi, the adventurous can hop on a scooter and roam the streets, and the novelty-seeking tourist can hitch a ride on a tuk-tuk.
Bus tickets are relatively cheap, very much so. A one-way ticket between stops around the cities of either Phnom Penh and Siem Riep will cost around USD 2. A monthly pass will set you back a mere USD 26 – a worthy investment for backpackers. Between different parts of the country the price starts at about USD 10.
Taxis are, of course, a bit more expensive. Expect to pay around USD 1 per kilometre. However, it’s relative price will almost magically shrink in moments of pure exhaustion. Put your health and happiness first, and your wealth second, and pay the money!
Tuk-tuk’s are a bit cheaper. For a five-minute ride around town, you can pay between 1 and 1 and a half dollars. They are also very fun, and serve as a stark reminder that you’re travelling – almost like when they have special effects in a movie that remind you that this isn’t real life, and is just some wonderfully foreign scenario.
As with most places in the world, the prices of different bits of food are largely linked to their availability and their level of production. South African’s pay very little for biltong, and the French don’t feel the pinch when buying a block of cheese. Similarly, coconuts cost more in England than they do in Thailand. Locally produced goods are always going to be cheaper than imported ones, and those products sold in mass quantities are always going to be competitively priced.
Rather different from more first world countries, and akin to the surrounding ASEAN countries, local fare is readily available at very low prices. Khmer curry, chicken skewers, Khmer fried noodles and dozens of other local delights won’t cost anything more than 3 USD. Head to local spots to get your fill of these local treats. You’re also likely to meet and converse with friendly locals, which is easily one of the best things about new places.
Should you be looking for some Western food while in Cambodia, the city of Phnom Penh is your best bet. High-end French cuisine, or just some burgers and chilli-poppers are all available. Expect to pay prices similar to those of where you’ve come from.
Pints of local beer are also cheap, costing around just USD 1. Grab yourself an Angkor beer – they’re great. Imported pints will go for double the price of local ones.. Wine, being a western-developed miracle, is more expensive and will set you back around USD 10 for a mid-range bottle. Cappuccinos and coffees are reasonably priced, around USD 2 for a good cup to get you going.
Cost of Cambodian visa
The cost of Cambodian visas seem to run at the industry norm, if you can call it that, and won’t cause any surprises in seasoned travellers.
Several of the countries in Southeast Asia allow travellers into the country for less than thirty days without a visa. However, in Cambodia, the vast majority of the world requires a visa, with only the citizens of ASEAN countries able to duck the dreaded expense. The good news is that the visa is cheap, and problem free!
You can grab a visa at any of the borders or airports when you arrive in Cambodia. One ID photo, USD 30, all your respective documents, and a short exchange with an official, and you are away. There are no countries whose citizens are unable to get into the country, and only serious criminals are blacklisted. So, your minor indiscretion in your corrupted youth should be overlooked.
A tourist visa (T-visa) is valid for one month and can be renewed for another 30 days at an expense of USD 45 once you’re in the country and doing anything to stay!
If you’re looking to stick around for even longer, get yourself and Ordinary visa (E-visa) and head to the Ministry of the Interior within the month to handle your affairs. These visas cost the same amount as tourist visas.
Accommodation costs in Cambodia vary from absolute steals, where the total cost of a night’s stay and breakfast is less than meal at a local restaurant, to stunning, high-end establishments where a night’s is a good chunk of a middle-class citizen’s monthly income. The vast difference in prices makes the exploration of Cambodia accessible to people of all tax brackets.
Decide what you need to feel comfortable, where you stand on Wi-Fi being a human right, and how you feel about a shared bathroom. These decisions will largely dictate what you’ll end up spending on accommodation. As a rough guide, backpackers are priced between 8 and 15 dollars, a room for two between 18 and 60 dollars, and a decadent, all frills stay will cost anything between 60 and 900 dollars.
Entrance fees are an important consideration for your budgeting. This is not because they are particularly excessive or because they are something that you don’t expect to pay. Rather, it is important simply because not having the money for it, or not having it in cash, could leave you with a real frown as you are denied access to your long-awaited adventure. So, come prepared, and keep a little extra money with you at all times.
Cambodia travel costs per day
The hyper-vigilant, extremely budget conscious traveller could get away with spending less than USD 30 a day. This is a very affordable figure for transport, accommodation, three meals, and a bit extra to sweeten the moments of your all too short time away.
A mid-range budget could see you spending up to double that on more expensive restaurants, morning cappuccinos, more comfortable lodging, and a much more manageable mode of transport – hooray for taxis!
A luxury-level budget can vary quite significantly from something like USD 150 all the way through to USD 300. At the high-end, prices for accommodation can be quite attached to a certain name or branding. Equally luxurious rooms can be attained at a fraction of the price if you stay away from The Westin, and steer toward local establishments. This is something to keep in mind if you aren’t concerned about the status attached to your lodging.
Travel budgeting for Cambodia – how much to budget?
- Accommodation – USD 5 to USD900 per night
- Food – Meal for one in a local restaurant with a drink – USD3 to USD5
- Drinks – Local beer – just under to 1.5 dollars
- Bottle of water – 0.5 to 1 dollar
- Taxis – USD1 per kilometre
- Airport taxis – USD 12 dollars to the city centre, 7 if you take a tuk-tuk
- Souvenirs – USD 5 to USD 50
- Domestic flights – Anywhere between USD 70 to USD140
Cambodia is not an expensive holiday. In fact, one has to work hard to spend money while there. The low cost of living frees up your funds to engage in the pricey activities that you may have otherwise foregone, indulge in all breakfast muffins, and head back home without the anxiety that one usually feels after the holiday season. So come and enjoy, and worry less about the figures, and more about the feelings that await!