After three fun weeks in Cambodia, including visits to Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, the capital Phnom Penh, the beaches and islands in the south, and all of that on a shoestring budget, we have a pretty good sense for how much it costs to have a vacation in Cambodia. While it is a bit more expensive than Thailand, the good news is that its still crazy-affordable for anyone with a western perspective on finance.
- Lodging: $14/day. As in Thailand, we sought out private rooms in inexpensive, but highly rated, guesthouses. We used hotels.com as much as possible, because they give you a free night for every 10 nights you book, but other online booking options with lots of ratings include agoda.com and bookings.com.
- Food: $11/day. Also comparable to their Thai neighbors, the Cambodians favor lots of noodle and rice dishes. We prefer to eat like the locals, so so did we! But unlike in Thailand, the Cambodians also mix in much of their French influence. For example, we frequently saw (and ate) omelettes with a baguette for a cheap but hearty $1.50 (each) breakfast.
- Activities: $9/day. This is one place Cambodia diverges. We found the country to be a bit more oriented towards tourists, and as such, there were more often fees associated with any activity you might want to do. Angkor Wat was our splurge - we each got a 3-day pass for a total of $80. Seeing the killing fields and the S21 prison in Phnom Penh are both also worth it, but come with entrance fees. The one exception is the beer - its much cheaper this side of the border than in Thailand, with a readily-available mug of frosty brew costing just $.50 on the low end.
- Transportation: $8/day. Again, this is where the Cambodia price tag adds up, in two ways. First, the buses are more expensive than in Thailand, and are basically the only budget way to get around. Second, getting to and around Angkor Wat from Siem Reap ($20-$25/day) and to the killing fields from Phnom Penh ($10-$15 roundtrip) are both pretty expensive. We considered renting bicycles to ride around Angkor, but some of the sites are quite far removed, and it was really freaking hot.
So there you have it. $42/day total for all your food, activities, lodging, and transportation around the country. If it sounds too good to be true, well its not - we did it and so can you!