So my first month of backpacking and my time in…
I almost skipped Cambodia on this trip. After hearing about some of the amazing things that other backpackers had been doing in other countries my resolve to stick to my plan for South East Asia began to waiver. I had decided to go to the Philippines, I just had to figure out how to get there from Thailand. As it was I was able to get cheap flights out of Phnom Penh so Cambodia was back on the Agenda. I couldn’t very well pass up an opportunity to cross Angkor Wat off my bucket list when I was only a bus ride away anyway. I only gave myself a week in Cambodia. It was enough time to check out the temples and the capital but there is definitely a lot that I missed. I think of this trip as just a taster.
Where did I go?
Siem Reap – 3 nights
Phnom Penh – 3 nights
How Much Does a Week in Cambodia Cost?
I found Cambodia quite expensive for a South East Asian country. It was exacerbated by the fact that Cambodia uses US currency and the Aussie dollar has been performing really poorly against the US dollar recently.
There is a lot of conflicting information about how much the Cambodian Visa should cost. I crossed the border at Poi Pet where I was issued with a visa on arrival. It is possible to apply for a visa online in advance but it is more expensive because of the processing fee.
Visa Cost $42
I stuck to hostels for my 6 nights in Cambodia. For Siem Reap it was a tactical decision made in the hope of meeting people to split the cost of tuk-tuk rides. I didn’t have as much luck with that in Phnom Penh.
Total Spent for 6 nights $56.20
Transport was one of my bigger costs for Cambodia since I had to take tuk-tuks more often to get around. They’re not too expensive when you can split them with people but I wasn’t always able to. I also took a flight to leave the country which always pushes up costs.
Total spent on getting around and out of the country $142.43
Food and Drink
For once food wasn’t my largest expense! Though that’s only because my flight from Phnom Penh pushed up my transport costs. I tended to stick to more western foods because I found the local fare to simply be a more bland version of Thai food. I can’t say I was a fan.
Total spent on eating $96.80
Since I only had the six days my time was pretty packed. I spent a day at the temples in Siem Reap and another at the Angkor National Museum. I even tried out a traditional Khmer Massage – which is basically just a less structured and softer version of a Thai massage. I also spent a morning at Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh. It was a busy week.
Total spent on activities $64.90
My only other expenses were my sim card and giving to some beggars. I usually don’t give to people on the street but Cambodia’s history really pulls on your heart strings and makes it so hard to say no. I’m still not sure how I feel about it. From what I’ve heard a lot of locals with jobs are living on less per day than what I gave to those people on the street. I’m not saying that the beggars are getting rich from it but it doesn’t really seem fair that people in legitimate jobs are making a fraction of what someone playing on the pity of tourists are.
Total spent on everything else $21.85
Total $438.67 or $62.67 per day
The Highlights and the Not-So-Great Bits
My #1 Highlight – Crossing Angkor Wat off my Bucket List
It’s always a good feeling when you can tick off doing something that you’ve been thinking about for years. I went for the sunrise as well which was pretty cool, you can read about my experience here.
The Worst Experience – The bus ride from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
I picked the mini-van option because it was cheap and meant to be the quickest way to get between the two cities. Well maybe it would have been, if we hadn’t popped a tyre or broken down. At least there were other tourists on the van. All Australians too. I had been wondering why I had met so few Aussies in Thailand, turns out they’re all in Cambodia!
The Strangest Sight – Aerobics Classes at the Olympic Stadium
Actually probably the coolest thing in the whole of Cambodia. Just before sunset hundreds of locals make their way to the olympic stadium to participate in group aerobic dance classes. I met a guy from my home city in the hostel and he invited me to come along to meet some of his friends that have been volunteering with Engineers Without Borders. It was a really good experience. [video]
The Craziest Experience – The Traffic in Phnom Penh
Traffic is scary across South East Asia but Phnom Penh takes the cake. I honestly don’t know how any tourist can consider hiring a scooter there. It would just be suicide for anyone that is used to civil traffic. Simply crossing the road as a pedestrian is a trial.
My Favourite Photo – Nature Reclaims in the Forest Temple