Nowadays, Cambodia (especially Siem Reap – mostly known for its wonderful Angkor Wat) is getting more and more popular amongst budget travellers and backpackers. Why? It is cheap, hot and full of natural wonders. Nevertheless, if you are an inexperienced traveller, you might easily overspend on food, accommodation and sightseeing. To save you from this (even if you are experienced traveller, but not familiar with Cambodian prices), I have prepared top 5 budget travel tips which help you save money while you fully enjoy your stay in Cambodia.
1. Get off the beaten path.
Tourist areas are the most expensive to stay at. Therefore, the best idea is to stay outside busy city centres, a few kilometres away from all hotspots. You will not only be able to negotiate much cheaper price for your room, but you will also have an opportunity to get to know some locals, discover local areas and see what other holiday makers will not see. If you feel like going to the city centre, rent a bike for $1 or $2 per day and go there by bike – healthy, eco-friendly and affordable.
2. Go couchsurfing, accept invitations to stay with locals or go for dorms.
Once you get to Cambodia, you will realize how hospitable locals can be. Some of them will treat you like a family member, let you stay at their place overnight and treat you with some nice food. If you don’t trust randomly met people in the street, try to use couchsurfing. There are plenty of Khmer people who will be more than happy to host you and show you around telling some interesting stories. More often than not they will want to take you to their village and introduce you to people who never or rarely have met foreigners. If you go for couchsurfing (couchsurfing.org) make sure you start looking for a host at least 7 days before your arrival so that you have enough time to find an appropriate person, and allow them to read your messages and make the necessary arrangements. If you are not a big fan of couchsurfing, try to go for dorms and share a room with at least 8-10 other people. It’s extremely cheap and you can make new friends with fellow travellers. Dorm prices can be as low as $1 per night.
3. Try local food and avoid Western style restaurants.
Cambodia, especially Siem Reap, is full of really expensive Western restaurants where you can get a cheeseburger, pizza, fries and coke. You can treat yourself with amazing Khmer food instead. It is going to save you a lot of money as Western food costs up to 5 times more than traditional Khmer dishes. Would you fancy a plate of rice and vegetables topped with spicy sauce for less than $1 or a takeaway cheeseburger and coke for $5? Besides, what kind of traveller would you be to go to Cambodia and stick to Western food?
4. Keep your partying in check.
You are on your holiday and you obviously want to have fun. However, the alcohol in Cambodia might cost an Earth especially when you are out off limits. It all starts with a $0.5 draft and by the end of the night you find yourself broke. Going clubbing every night is not the cheapest entertainment option so you should always keep your partying in check. Some locals can take advantage of you being tipsy or drunk and rip you off. If you feel like you might overspent on alcoholic, take a friend or two with you to keep an eye on your tap.
5. Avoid guided tours.
Do you want to see Angkor Wat or ride an elephant? Do it on the cheap and avoid all guided tours which are way too expensive. You can rent a bike and go to Angkor Wat on your own terms saving $20+ per day, get a local bus to take you o elephant orphanage saving at least $15. If you insist on travelling with a guide, find some other travellers happy to share the bill. Guides charge per day ($20-$25), regardless of the group size. If they say otherwise, go and look for another guide.
Moreover, in the tourist areas, make sure to haggle and not to set on the initial price. You will probably notice right away everything in Cambodia is negotiable. The first price you hear from locals is most likely up to 5 times higher than the typical price so don’t be shy and push yourself to get some bargains.
After a week you will see how much less money you have spent in comparison to other fellow backpackers and tourists you meet on the road!
Author Bio: Agness is a Polish vagabond who, after graduation, left her comfort zone and set off for a journey of her lifetime to China in 2011. She has been constantly travelling the world since then (slowly, but surely as she says), living like a local for less than $25 a day. She became a photography passionate and adventure blogger sharing her life enthusiasm and travel experience with everyone around.