Pin It

Cambodia Wrap Up – $34 Daily Average Per Person

We spent 24 days in Cambodia. Here is a collection of our impressions, travel tips, and the cost break down.

Schedule

  • Kratie 3 days
    • This was the first town over the boarder from Laos and it’s a bit sleepy but nice. It’s not too touristy and we did some kayaking on the river and saw the famous Dolphins there.

kayaking in kratie (1)

  • Phnom Penh 5 days
    • Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and is really impressive and modern, at least compared to what you might expect. If you can look past the constant barrage of tuk tuk driver requests and child begging there are a lot of nice places to walk around, such as the promenade. There are a lot of NGO restaurants that offer delicious food at a fair price (expensive by Cambodia standards but not by Western).

phnom penh

  • Sihanoukville – Otres Beach 5 days
    • This is the beach area of Cambodia and although it can be a little trashy overall it’s a nice beach with a fantastic sunset. We stayed on Otres beach and really enjoyed it – in fact we overstayed a bit because it was so pleasant.

otres beach sunset

  • Kampot 4 days
    • This town is quite nice to walk around or get a bike and ride around to the surrounding areas and see how salt is gathered. You can also take a day trip to Kep, which we did on motorbike and is worth it if you have some time to spare.

kampot

  • Siem Reap 4 days
    • Most people go here for Angkor Wat. The town itself is a bit of a backpacker party town, especially during high season, and they have a few streets carved out specifically for pubs so it can be a bit rowdy. Still it’s a must see.

siem reap1

  • Battambang 3 days
    • There is really a lot to do in and around this town. We hired a tuk tuk driver to take us around for a day and had a really great time with him.

S1280001

Would we do it the same way?

Cambodia was the last country we visited in Asia and is unique for us in that we spent less time there before we had a plane to catch out of Bangkok instead of staying longer as our visa allowed and we intended. Given the amount of time our itinerary worked our fairly well. We definitely lingered a bit in a few places instead of getting more off the beaten path but that’s how it goes sometimes. Certainly you could spend less time in Sihanoukville (aka at the beach) and even less time at Siem Reap (but we had a few friends there so it was good for us to stay).

Our Route

Our Impressions

Our expectations were very low for Cambodia. To be honest we had heard terrible things of thieving, nasty people, countless scams, violence – the works. But all that didn’t deter us and it’s a good thing because we had a really nice time. Cambodia has an extremely tragic history and it was great to be able to go there and experience it first hand by talking with locals from tuk tuk drivers to NGO workers about the problems facing Cambodia.

cambodian kids1

Needless to say the temples in Siem Reap are really special and the beaches in Sihanoukville quite nice and perhaps less touristy than say Thailand’s. Sure, we didn’t love everything. The tuk tuk drivers in Cambodia have to be some of the worst we’ve encountered – they’re relentless. There is also a lot of child begging, which we had been warned about. That said, after 9 months in Asia we were pretty hardened to that sort of thing and were able to look past it and see the true beauty the country has to offer.

Bests And Worsts

Best food:

dinner with a couchsurfer1

Overall we enjoyed the food in Cambodia. In terms of a favorite dish there is a tie between the crab we had in the seaside town of kep and the amok dishes we had throughout our stay in the country. The crab was the best I’ve ever had; it was tender and juicy and with a perfectly complementary sauce – the only problem’ there wasn’t enough of it. I would have happily ordered a second and third helping.

The amok is a traditional Cambodia curry made with the standard set of Asian ingredients; coconut milk, kaffir limes, ginger, etc and served either in a bowl made of banana leaves or a coconut shell. We had both fish and vegetarian amok and loved both. The sauce is creamy but without an overwhelmingly strong taste. Even if you are not into curry based dishes this is a must try. You simply cannot leave Cambodia without sampling this dish at least a handful of times.

Best experience:

Our best experience was meeting up with a local through couchsurfing in Phnom Penh. We didn’t have a chance to stay with anyone overnight but our own night out with Borey simply made our trip. He picked us up on his motorbike and took us a to a local restaurant where we first had dinner. He shared with us his life story – he was from Sihanoukville but had moved up to Phnom Penh to work for a local NGO, helping locals who had been evicted from their land recieve help and support. He dreams of opening his own business on one of the islands and hopes to do so in a few years. Over the course of dinner our conversation progressed to more cultural topics and he shared with us his thoughts on the future of Cambodia. After visiting the killing fields and S21 museum we knew about Cambodia’s troubled past but through Borey we received a lesson in Cambodia’s upsetting present and volatile future. Cadres from the Khmer Rouge are still in power and therefore justice has not been had, even 35 years later. Corruption is rampant. As Borey said, government is not working, school is not working, court is not working. After dinner as he drove us around the city he pointed out all the new construction sites that have been started once the local citizens were forcibly evicted from the land. He shared personal accounts of being on site when police and military would kick the citizens out without fair compensation or alternatives. Sadly there are many such sites in Phnom Penh. Through our one evening with Borey we feel like we got a glimpse into the Cambodia of today, the Cambodia that many people have to live with daily.

Bucket List Activities: NONE

Tips For Traveling

Transportation

Local Buses

cambodian people

Within the city you can pretty much walk everyone as they are pretty small so buses are not needed, or just rent a motorbike or a bike.

Trains

No trains in Cambodia! OK, maybe there are but we didn’t take any.

Cabs

No cabs either, but the tuk tuk drivers are extremely aggressive and will want to haggle.

Long Distance Buses

worst seat on the bus

Getting from place to place is largely done via bus or minivan. What can I say, not that comfortable, especially if it’s a minivan. In most cases the distances were not too bad (under 4 hours) and the roads were not too windy (compared to Laos).

Student IDs

Fairly useless in most cases.

Public Facilities

We never really had an issue with a lack of public facilities, most restaurants seem to have them available.

Safety

We found Cambodia to be incredibly safe.

Food and Restaurants

kep crab dish

Cambodia food is pretty good, we particularly like Fish Amok. Of course they have the usual dishes that all of SEA seems to have. I really recommend checking out some of the NGO eateries especially in Phnom Penh and Battambang – they are pricier but the quality and choice makes it worth your while.

S1150054

Credit Cards And Money

This is a cash country. In fact, Cambodia uses two currencies, their local one and the US dollar. Dollars are accepted virtually everywhere and the rate is pretty good so there is no need to change money if you do not want to – just make sure to have small bills available because $20 goes a long way in Cambodia and can be difficult to break.

Internet

Internet is generally available in Cambodia and cafes can be wifi spots.

Accommodations (4000 reel = 1 USD)

  1. Kratie – (can’t remember name) $15 double, private bathroom, wifi, tv, ac, fan,
  2. Phnom Penh – Europe Hotel $17 wifi, ac, TV, double, private bathroom (first stayed at Rorys guesthouse, dump $20 for a/c that barely worked and terrible fan, not very clean, terrible owners, FAST wifi though)
  3. Sihanoukville – Otres Orchid -$ 15  first across from beach,  bungalows,  1 fan, good mosquito net, bugs in the room though, wifi, private bathroom, (no TV)
  4. Kampot – Mea Culpa $18 large double, private bathroom, fan, ac, tv wifi (signal inconsistent) lots of dvds to borrow to watch
  5. Siem Reap – Prom Roth Guest House ($14 double, private bathroom,  a/c tv wifi fan)
  6. Battambang – Royal Hotel $18 double, A/C tv wifi (first stayed at Seng Hout hotel for $15 but wifi didnt work well)

Finding Couchsurfers

We didn’t do any Couchsurfing in Cambodia but we did meet with a guy Vicky messaged on the platform, which resulted in dinner and motorbiking around Phnom Penh – don’t be shy there are a lot of nice people to meet in this country.

Cost Break Down

We kept track of every cost we had down to the purchase level and categorized it into 5 groupings:

  • Entertainment – Mostly sightseeing.
  • Food and Water – Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as snacks (little things we bought in the middle of the day, chips, ice cream, etc).
  • Gifts – For couchsurfers, usually a bottle of wine or some chocolates, sometimes treated to dinner.
  • Transportation – all forms but not including any flights in and out of the country.
  • Utilities – Things like lockers for bags, pay phones, small purchases like detergent.
  • Accommodation – All hotel/hostel/guesthouse stays

So where did we end up?

$34 per person, per day.

cambodia breakdown

 

 

Like most places in South East Asia Cambodia is inexpensive. In fact we definitely could have gotten by on less but we decided to splurge a bit and go to some nice NGO restaurants, which cost probably double the price of an average meal but are much better quality and also support a good cause.

Would we go back to Cambodia? YES!

If you enjoyed this article, join others and get free email updates!

6 Responses to Cambodia Wrap Up – $34 Daily Average Per Person

  1. Hey guys!
    I really appreciate this wrap up. Must admit, Cambodia is not exactly high on my list of places to visit, but this is the 2nd interesting piece in 2 weeks I’ve seen that talks about what a fulfilling visit it can be. And wow is that affordable.
    For me, it’s not the right time, but I think this is a place I’d like to visit eventually.
    Great pictures!
    Jon

    Jon Patrick July 25, 2013 at 11:53 AM Reply
    • Sounds like a good plan, it will be there for you when you’re ready

      Dave and Vicky July 25, 2013 at 11:56 AM Reply
  2. I want to go ! Reading your blog just makes me want to go travel more.

    Yeison July 26, 2013 at 12:40 PM Reply
  3. Cambodia is very near my county, the Philippines, and I did’t consider it a destination for vacation. But now, hearing it from you, i think I’d like to consider traveling to this place in the future. Thank you for the useful tips!

    Ria Dancel July 27, 2013 at 10:53 AM Reply
  4. Great information and pictures. You have done such a nice job laying this out in a practical way including your daily cost and where you stayed. Thank you! As a family traveling this gives me a much better idea of what we are going into v. Lonely Planet travel guides which are in my opinion just OK. In your opinion which beach would be a good destination for families? I know you are a couple traveling without kids but I just wanted your take…

    Really appreciate it.

    Stephen

    Stephen August 5, 2014 at 1:09 PM Reply
    • I think the beach we stayed on -Otres Beach would be a good family friendly beach, or head even further down where it is even more quiet. I’m glad you have enjoyed the country wrap up — hoping it is useful as a resource for planning! Thanks so much for reading and apologies for the late comment response!

      Vicky October 1, 2014 at 2:21 AM Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.