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Gone are the days when Cambodia was reserved for the budget traveller, with a swathe of luxury offerings mushrooming across the country. However, it still remains a backpackers’ paradise and it’s easy to travel the country for cheap.
If you’re time in Cambodia is limited to a couple of days, then the likelihood is you’ll be spending it in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Luckily for you, both these destinations are packed full of budget options.
If you don’t mind sharing, then dorms can be picked up for as little as $4 a night, while a private room with a shared bathroom starts from about $7. Private rooms with ensuite bathrooms can be snagged for $10, and, thanks to mounting competition in the hospitality market, can even come with AC and a hot shower.
If eating local tickles your fancy, then you can save yourself stacks of cash. Street food will set you back $1.50 to $2 for a meal, while eating in a local restaurant will be a couple of dollars more.
If you fancy a drink, then head to the backpacker areas around Riverside, Street 278 and Street 172 in Phnom Penh, and the Pub Street area in Siem Reap, where most of the bars put on happy hours – usually from around 4 to 7pm – where beers can be picked up for as little as 50 cents.
Both cities are relatively small in size and can be navigated on foot if you’re not planning on straying too far. Alternatively, motodops – motorbike taxis – are your cheapest options, costing about $2 to get from one side of Phnom Penh centre to the other and half that’s in Siem Reap. But don’t forget to negotiate.
Throwing in a bit of extra cash to snap up some souvenirs and do a bit of sight-seeing, $40 will well and truly see you through two days in Cambodia.
If you plan on spending a little longer in the country, then it’s likely you’ll be travelling between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Transport is cheap in Cambodia, with a bus between the two destinations costing as little as $8. However, the quality and safety of buses wildly vary, so it’s worth spending a little more. Reliable company Giant Ibis charge $15 for the trip.
If you have a little more cash, then a taxi is about $80, with share-taxi options available through the travel shops that dot the tourist areas in the two destinations. But be prepared to share a car with at least five other Cambodians and possibly a chicken or two.
Factor in a bit more fun time and a bit of cash for shopping at the market and $150 will happily see you through a week.
Two weeks in Cambodia is definitely going to involve more travelling, perhaps to explore the beach, hit the islands or head into the jungle.
Accommodation prices remain relatively the same, with cheap places to sleep available across the country. Because you have a little longer, book your first couple of nights and then go with the flow. Most places take walk in bookings, with some offering discounts.
Again, buses are cheap so getting around the country isn’t going to cost you the earth. And if you’re getting sick of street food, there is an abundance of eateries serving food from across the globe littered throughout the tourist hubs. Of course, these come at a price as many ingredients have to be imported, but you can still pick up a decent Western meal for about $5.
You’re probably also going to pack a bit more partying into two weeks so budget for that. However, with $250 in your pocket, you’ll do just fine
If you plan on staying in one place, then you may be able to bring down the price of accommodation for a three-week stay, especially if it’s during low season. Or check into an Airbnb place with its own kitchen so you can save on dining out.
Transport costs can be kept low by hiring a motorbike, or even a bicycle if you don’t mind cycling in the heat. And if you plan on travelling across the country, then why not see if any fellow travellers are heading your way and hire a taxi or minibus to cut down costs on the trip?
It’s also worthwhile keeping an eye out for events on Facebook as new bar, restaurant and gallery openings often come with a couple of hours of free wine and nibbles.
If you’re planning on spending three weeks in Cambodia, then $400 is enough to tide you over.