If your still considering a trip to Cambodia, then read this blog. I will discuss my time in Cambodia. Moreover, I’ll also explain how I experienced the locals of Cambodia, Cambodia population, the country itself, budget that I had and many more! In short, Cambodia is a country that is damaged due to its past. The people are working hard to rebuilt the county. The Angkor area is beautiful while Phnom Pehn has a dark history. Both places are worth visiting and give a complete overview of Cambodia. The country is poor and prices are high for tourists. Most of all, the tourism industry is one of the biggest source of income for Cambodia.
The Cambodia population consist of 16.25 milion people in 2018. I experienced Cambodia different than the other countries I visited in Southeast Asia. I felt that people for example in Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam were more open, friendly and eager to speak to me. The Khmer (people of Cambodia) have been through hard times. If you want to know more about Cambodia and what shaped the country, read about the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot.
First of all, a big part of the population is younger than 24 years and most people have lost either their parents or grandparents. Second, is the amount of unemployed and homeless people. The economy is not getting better since the Khmer Rouge and there is not a lot of work. Finally, there is a lot of corruption within the country. Add all these problems and you will get people who have lost their trust, ambition and even hope sometimes.
The past events shaped the people of Cambodia and you will notice it walking around, especially in Phnom Penh. Everyone is just surviving and trying to make each day better for themselves or their children. However, the Khmer may be focused on themselves and try to make money of tourists, but when you make the effort to connect you will find welcoming and loving people.
Central Market, Phnom Penh
Much like my homeland The Netherlands, Cambadia is a flat land. You will find more farms than mountains. I visited the trendy Siem Reap and the capital Phnom Penh. Both places are a must visit and totally different from each other. You will visit Siem Reap for the ancient Angkor city and Phnom Penh for the recent history of the country.
Siem Reap is one of the more Western cities I visited in Southeast Asia. Most tourists stay in Siem Reap for the ancient city Angkor and the locals make most of their money from tourists. There are a lot of trendy restaurants and there is a walking street with clothes, food and entertainment. Most visitors of Cambodia only visit Siem Reap, but the capital Phnom Penh is just as interesting.
If you want to learn more about recent history, visit Phnom Penh. In the capital you will find the most about the Khmer Rouge. Places as the Killing Fields and the S-21 prison are shocking and show everything without anything censored. Some things are not child-friendly due to some cruel pictures or stories. Phnom Penh is not a particularly pretty city, but one should visit for the history. Are you more of an “Dark Tourist” that is interested in dark history, Phnom Penh is the place for you!
Angkor Thom, Angkor
Cambodia is the most expensive country that I visited in Southeast Asia. In the last year, prices have gone up and down and the overall economy is not stable. This unstable economy has made the life for locals increasingly harder. As a tourist you will notice the price gap between Cambodia and for example Thailand. If you have been there before. First, let’s look at the Cambodian currency that the Khmer use and how they use it.
First of all, there are two types of currencies that population of Cambodia uses, namely The Cambodian Riel and the American Dollar. One dollar is equal to around 4000 Riel, this has been stable for a while and should not drastically change over time. The locals use the Riel and will pay different prices than tourists. If you get cash from an ATM, you will also pay a heavy fee of $5 per withdraw.
Secondly, You will see a lot of English menus with higher prices than the Khmer menus. The Khmer are also not so fond of exchanging with the Riel, if you need to bargain you will do so with American Dollars and it starts with 1 Dollar. There are no coins, you will get Riel back for everything lower than a Dollar.
An example: You like a shirt and it is 4 Dollar, you want to pay 0.50 cents. The lowest you will get is 1 Dollar, because the seller does not want any Riel. For this reason everything is more expensive for tourists; your drinks in Thailand are for example 0.20 cents are at least 1 Dollar in Cambodia.
Last of all, be aware of your Dollars. Every Dollar with a rip, stain or being to old, will get rejected. The people of Cambodia will see this as an “broken” Dollars and will not accept them, even the 100 Dollar. Make sure you get every bill in a fresh state from, for example, a restaurant so that you won’t have any problems with paying. They will try and give you “worthless”money.
Angkor Wat, Angkor
Getting into Cambodia was pretty easy. I booked a bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap and crossed the border at Poipet. Be aware that this border is infamous for its illegal activities such as fake police, borders, passport controls and fees. I bought my E-visa for $36, a couple dollars more compared to buying it at the border. I recommend the E-visa to everyone so you will prevent being scammed, you can get your E-Visa here.
I travelled with a couple of buses in Cambodia. From Bangkok to Siem Reap (€18 p.p.), from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh (€8 p.p.) and from Phnom Penh to Can Tho, Vietnam (€17 p.p).
Next to buses, I visited Angkor with a Tuctuc for $15 for two days. I got picked up and dropped off at my hotel. The second day included water for the whole day. I recommend finding a Tuctuc driver for a couple of days since it will save you a lot of energy and money. Water bottles are usually around $1 per bottle in the Angkor area.
The capital of Cambodia is a lot busier then Siem Reap. In the city centre I mostly walked. Walking is a lot faster compared to driving due to the heavy traffic. To get to the Killing Fields we rented a Tuctuc for around $8.
I had to pay most of my total entrance fees in Cambodia, they aren’t cheap as well. You’re biggest expense will be in Siem Reap. To visit the Angkor Historical Site, you will have to pay a big fee. For a one-day pass you’ll pay $37 p.p., for a three-day pas you’ll pay $62 p.p and finally, for a seven-day pass you’ll pay $72 p.p.
When you visit Angkor just for the main tourist spots, I recommend the one-day pass. If you want to see more than the main tourist post, get the three-day pass. If you really want to take your time, get the seven-day pass. I got the three-day pass and this was more than enough for me
Next to Angkor, we had to pay $3 p.p. for the S-21 prison and $5 p.p. for the Killing Fields.
Pre Rup, Angkor
Total amount I spend
In Cambodia, I spend a total of €253,- for one week. This total was split in:
€30,- for accommodation
€43,- for transport
€17,- for the Tuctuc’s
€56,- for the Angkor Pass
€7,- for the S-21 and the Killing Fields
€100,- for food and drinks
The amount of money I spend in Cambodia is not much per person. However, compared to the neighbouring countries it is a lot. I myself enjoyed alot learning more about the history of Cambodia and was shocked how much Cambodia is still affected by the impact of the Khmer Rouge.
Cambodia is an beautiful country with a lot of history. In this blogpost i talked about the people of Cambodia, the country Cambodia itself, the different currencies Cambodia uses and my budget that i had for this trip. I personally enjoyed this trip very much, especially learning about the history of Cambodia. I know this country is not for everyone, especially for students that will want to party and go to clubs. But if you’re interested to learn about the history of an Country, you should give Cambodia a try!
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Cost of Travel in Cambodia, Gobackpacking.com