Visiting Siem Reap (and Angkor Wat!) on a Budget.
Angkor Wat is one of the most popular places to visit in Southeast Asia and millions of people go to see it each year. There’s little wonder why it features so highly on so many people’s bucket list because it truly is a magnificent sight to see and one which is difficult to put into words how spectacular it really is.
This guide will help you to get the best value for money during your trip to Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Getting to Siem Reap
Most people will fly into Siem Reap and the first thing you need to look at is the cost of the flights from your current location. The usual rules apply when looking for flights – check directly with the airline, check comparison websites and look around for the best deals.
Cheap Flights to Siem Reap
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Again, the same rules apply when you’re looking for accommodation. It’s best to look online for hotels in your price range and see what’s available. Beds in hostels and guest houses can be as little as $2 or $3 per night. An air-conditioned double room in a nice and clean small hotel can be as little as $15 – $20 per night.
Getting Around the Temples
Depending on your budget, you have many options for getting around town and around the temples. The Angkor Wat Small Circuit Tour is by far the most popular tour and the total circuit is less than 20km.
Therefore, it’s possible to use the cheapest form of transport available – your legs! It might be a long day after getting around all the temples, but many (fit and healthy) people decide to walk. Start early in the morning to avoid the strong sun and give yourself plenty of time to get around.
If you don’t feel like walking, the next cheapest alternative is cycling. You can hire out simple bicycles for $1 a day and pedal yourself around the temples. A mountain bike will set you back around $3 – $5 per day. In some cases, your hotel may offer free bicycle rentals, so ask them first.
The cheapest motorized alternative is to take a tuk tuk. You can get a tuk tuk to take you around the small circuit for around $12 to $15. Ask your hotel for their prices or barter with a driver on the street. Ask around and you’ll get a decent price.
Getting Around the Town
Siem Reap is generally a very small town, especially where most tourist attractions are located. If your hotel is no more than a 15-minute walk to Pub Street, then you can walk around most of the evening attractions without having to pay for transport.
If you don’t feel like walking, there is a tuk tuk on every street corner. They’ll generally take you anywhere in the town for just a few dollars. However, you’ll need to hone your bargaining skills. In most cases, you should be able to bargain for around 50% of their first asking price.
Eating in Siem Reap
Food is generally very cheap in Siem Reap and local cuisine is considerably cheaper than international fare. In and around Pub Street, there are hundreds of restaurants catering for just about every known type of cuisine.
Meals can vary in price, but you can expect to get a decent meal in a restaurant around Pub Street for between $5 and $10 per person. If you want to save money on food, then you can go to one of the many street food sellers in the area where you can get a meal for around $2 – $3.
If you’re feeling adventurous, then you can venture out of the tourist areas and get some street food from a local market. Here, local meals will cost around $1 – $2.
However, if you’re eating meals at local markets, then you’re going to need a strong stomach! Hygiene standards are not the same as what you’re used to.
Drinking in Town
Siem Reap is an unusual place insomuch that in many restaurants and bars, a glass of draft beer is cheaper than a bottle of water. On Pub Street, you’ll find plenty of places with “all day happy hours” selling beers at 50cents.
Things can get even cheaper when you start to venture away from the tourist areas an into local beer gardens. Some Cambodian beer gardens will sell jugs of beer (around 4.5 glasses) for $2 or less.
Spirits are also cheap when compared to back home. A 1L bottle of vodka in the supermarket is less than $10 for a name brand. However, be careful to ensure that you’re buying authentic bottles as you will find many places selling cheap counterfeits.
Shopping & Markets
Depending on what you want to buy, Siem Reap can also be a cheap place to go shopping.
If you’re looking to buy some gifts or souvenirs, then you’ll probably head to one of the night markets or the Old Market. These are often the most expensive places to shop and are geared towards tourists.
If you want to get a real bargain, then head out of the tourist areas to one of the local markets such as Phsar Leu or Phsar Samaki. However, you won’t find too many English-speaking people here, but the prices are much cheaper.
Wherever you decide to go shopping, haggling is a way of life here. You should always discuss the price and never pay the first price given to you. Go for around 50% of the asking price and try stick to what price you feel comfortable with. The seller will have their lowest price and if you can’t strike a deal, then walk away. If the seller calls you back, then you know there is room to negotiate. If they let you go, then your price is too low.
Visiting Siem Reap on a Budget
Although in recent years, prices have increased in Siem Reap, it is still a very cheap place to visit when compared to prices in more developed countries.
Accommodation is cheap with small guest houses starting at only $5 per night. Even big 5-star resorts regularly sell rooms for $50 or $60 a night.
Local food is often far cheaper than tourist-oriented places. But even in a tourist-style restaurant, a meal can be a little as $5 or $6.
It’s extremely cheap to drink in Siem Reap, especially if you drink beer. Wine can be on the more expensive side, but again, it’s nothing compared to what it would cost back home.
It’s possible to see Angkor Wat – the world’s largest religious monument – and stay in Siem Reap without breaking the bank. Like everywhere in the world, things are getting more expensive in Siem Reap, but compared to western countries, it is still very cheap.
About the Author
William has been living in Siem Reap for 9 years. He is married with two children and now calls Cambodia his home. He is the owner of JustSiemReap.com and owns a Digital Marketing Business. He keeps himself busy building websites for his clients, going for walks and spending time with his family.