My Daily Budget in Cambodia

My Daily Budget in Cambodia


I’ve been in the town of Ban Lung for a few days now and thought this would be a good place to break down an average day’s expenses. My daily budget goal for Cambodia is $25 US — I’d hoped to get by on $20, but the summer heat has led me to spurge on AC rooms more than I’d like.

Room — I’m staying in a beautiful hotel called the Tree Top, in a large bungalow with a view of the surrounding hillsides. The bungalow runs $10 a night and was the only room they had available when I got here. Standard rooms with a shared toilet/shower are only $5 a night, but I’ve grown to love the bungalow so much I haven’t got around to changing rooms. Throughout Cambodia, it’s been pretty easy to find fan-cooled rooms for $5-6 and AC rooms for $10-12.

Food — I’ve been eating in tourist-oriented places more here than Thailand. Cambodian food is fairly tasty, but lacks that zing that Thai food has, so I don’t feel as guilty ordering Western food. Street food isn’t nearly as common as in Thailand, either — I’ve found mostly fruit carts, dried fish, and the occasional fried grasshoppers. Today I ate twice at the Gecko Restaurant, where the food is a little more expensive, but they have free wifi — saving me $1 per hour.

In bigger towns, beer is cheaper: just $.75 in Phnom Penh and $.50 in Siem Reap for draft Angkor.

For breakfast, I had muesli for $1 and a couple of iced coffees for $.75 each. Lunch was grilled cheese sandwiches with fries for $2 and a coke for $1. For dinner, I had a couple of delicious barbecued skewers of beef and chicken with vegetables for $1 each. This was all washed down with four watery Angkor beers at $1 apiece. In bigger towns, the beer is even cheaper: $.75 in Phnom Penh and $.50 in Siem Reap. Cocktails and wine –as in Thailand– are fairly over-priced at $2-3 per drink.

Transport — I explored the town on foot, walking around the lake district and the market. On other days, I rented a bicycle for $1 a day and a very beat-up scooter for $6. Gas costs $1 per liter and two liters lasted me all day, while I explored the town and a couple of outlying sites. The roads here are too steep for tuk tuks, so any in-town transport is by moto-taxi. They’ll take you anywhere in town for a dollar or less, depending on your haggling abilities.

All of my travel around Cambodia has been via bus or mini-bus and has been really cheap. An eleven hour bus ride from here to Phnom Penh is only $7. Ironically, a minibus ride to Kompong Cham –halfway to Phnom Penh– is also $7 and is less comfortable.

Miscellaneous — On other days, I visited two small parks and paid a total of $.75 in entrance fees. Trekking is the big draw here in Bang Lung, but it can get expensive quickly with prices starting around $15 for a single day and $100 or more for a 3 day trek. If you have a few people, it’s easier to arrange better pricing. Water goes for $1 per large bottle, with many hotels offering safe, filtered refills for $.25. Cigarettes are $1.25 for Marlboro or $.50 for Cambodian or Vietnamese brands — they taste the same and kill you just as fast.

Saving Money — You’ll want to haggle hard with tuk tuk drivers throughout Cambodia. In Thailand, my rule of thumb was to start negotiating at less than half the first offer, but I’ve had drivers here try to charge me three or even four times the going rate. When I was first in country, I bought a knock-off guide book that I haggled down to $7 from the requested $15. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until I reach Siem Reap, where a street kid offered me the same book for $2.

Housing, food, and city-to-city transport are all very cheap, but you’ll find yourself spending a lot to see the sights.

While housing, food, and city-to-city transport are all very cheap, you’ll find yourself spending a lot to see the sights. Angkor Wat’s entry fee is $20 for a day or $40 for three days and hiring a driver will just about double that.

A one-hour boat ride to see the dolphins in Kratie is $9 plus a $5 moto ride to reach them. For popular tourist activities, the drivers seem to have all agreed on a price and aren’t very willing to haggle.

I’ve had to be very selective about what I saw and what I passed by because of this. Renting your own transportation helps, but in many places it can be almost impossible to find the place you’re looking for. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing — I’ve often stumbled into the most amazing experiences while searching for a spot I’ve read about in a guidebook. As a result, I’m a big fan of getting lost.

I hope this is of some help in planning your own adventures. If you have questions or a tip to share, please leave a comment or drop me an email.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

ayngelina June 4, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Nice breakdown, while I was there I stayed in cheaper places but it wasn’t summer. I think sometimes the splurge is necessary for sanity.
.-= ayngelina´s last blog ..Reunited and it feels so good =-.


wes June 5, 2010 at 8:43 am

I totally agree — you have to take time and splurge every now and then or else it all just becomes a grind.


Philip June 4, 2010 at 11:08 pm

I really appreciate these kinds of posts.
Thanks a lot for the well-commented yet concise and useful information!
.-= Philip´s last blog ..The beauty of silence =-.


Natalka June 5, 2010 at 12:23 am

I appreciate you post very much, thanks for sharing. I too am budget conscious when I travel so this subject is interests me very much.
Is it possible to take a photo of what kind of accomodation you get for your $10 per night? Personally I like a bit of a blurb on where you stay and what you think of the place. I know this isn’t Tripadvisor but it would be interesting to know what you get for your money.


wes June 5, 2010 at 8:41 am

Great idea, Natalka. I’d been thinking about adding a small callout with hotel info but hadn’t thought to include a photo. I’ll get to work on it.


Candice June 5, 2010 at 12:49 am

Like Philip said, I dig these kind of posts! Really gets my gears grindin’, thinking about how I could afford a cheap lifestyle like this while making really, really minimal salary and still pay off some debt. Thanks.
.-= Candice´s last blog ..Sometimes Growing Up in a Bilingual Country Sucks =-.


Ryan & Liz June 5, 2010 at 1:59 am

These budget posts are extremely helpful! Thanks for all of the great information and keep up the good work!


wes June 5, 2010 at 8:42 am

Glad to hear the info is useful. I know this was the kind of stuff I was looking for while planning, so it’s good to hear that others feel the same. Thanks!


Abby June 5, 2010 at 10:15 am

You do make travel seem so attainable, Wes! And I get to hear all the highlights without thinking that you’re bragging to me. I love reading your posts!
.-= Abby´s last blog ..Last girl to the Avatar party =-.


wes June 5, 2010 at 10:25 am

Ha, thanks! No bragging here — I save all that for my Facebook page, where I can torment my friends ;)


Andi June 6, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I can’t believe how cheap it is there, wow!!!!!!!!!!
.-= Andi´s last blog ..India: Day 4 (Part 2) =-.


Chris November 17, 2010 at 5:38 am

Ditto what everyone else said. Very informative. Great use of keywords in the title tags ; )


shirley December 27, 2011 at 10:34 pm

hi,i’m planning to go to Cambodia next month. (3 days only). How much is the budget for 3 days?


wes December 28, 2011 at 2:26 am

You can get by on $25-30 per day pretty easily but that doesn’t include transport into the country or seeing the more expensive sights. If you’re planning on seeing Angkor Wat (and you should), factor in $20 per day entrance fee and another $15-20 for a tuktuk driver. Rented bicycles are a cheaper option and it’s an easy ride.


Sion Sircar February 12, 2012 at 9:33 pm

When were you in Varanasi, seems like we have got some common photographs. Will be visiting Cambodia in August, really wanna go to Koh Rong. Do you have any suggestions on the place.


Charli R September 26, 2012 at 4:16 am


You’ve summarised alot of my query already with this blog, but can you recommend an estimated “budget” for Thailand/Cambodia for a month? I’ll be staying in Chiang Mai (with my family), BKK, Siem Reip and Phnom Penh.
And what are the train systems like there? I have a rough idea that its cheap & third class but any opinion on transport other that Taxi’s or Tuk Tuks?
Thank you in advance :)


wes September 30, 2012 at 8:48 am

I think $1000 per month would be a good upper range. Staying with family and moving around less, you should get off much cheaper.


Kristina March 17, 2013 at 3:45 am

This is really helpful. Love it!


Pattaya holiday June 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your
blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later. All the best