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Cambodia currency to use & Guided trip cost

How much does it cost to go to Cambodia?

Are you searching the internet but most of the information is from the backpackers who just spend less than $30/person/day?

Some of the advices includes sleeping inside a room with fan only, traveling by train and local public bus, and eating at the street food stalls.

With a little bit more (about $40-50/day), you can have some good meals, travel by air for some long distance, and sleep at an air-conditioned room.

Well, we believe you learned enough to save your pocket, and we do not intend to help you to … save more than that. 

Within this guide, we will help you reveal the cost of some important services of your trip to Cambodia, especially for a pleasant guided trip cost, including your accommodation, meals, activities, or transportation.

Before breaking down your Cambodia vacation cost, we will first guide you through the national currency of Cambodia; hence, you will first have general idea of the money you can spend in the country.

Let's check it out.

Cambodia National Currency

Cambodia’s currency is the riel, abbreviated in our listings to a lower-case ‘r’ written after the sum.

The Cambodian riel comes in notes of the following denominations: 100r, 200r, 500r, 1000r, 2000r, 5000r, 10,000r, 20,000r, 50,000r and 100,000r.

To give you an idea of its worth below is the exchange rates regarding the main foreign currencies:

Australia AU $1 2,815r
Canada C $1 3,096r
European Countries EUR 1 4,522r
UK UK £1 5,096r
USA US $1 4,105r

These are given for information purposes and we advise you to consult the present exchange rates on www.xe.com

Although Cambodia’s official currency is the Riel, foreign currencies are widely accepted throughout the country. This become even more true for large transactions and tourism-related businesses.

Foreign currencies in Cambodia

One of the most common questions we get is: "how to deal with money as a traveler in Cambodia?". You are lucky since there is not a single currency in use and the vast majority of businesses do accept some foreign currencies without adding extra transaction fees.

Cambodia’s second currency (some would say its first) is the US dollar, which is accepted everywhere and by everyone. Most tourist-oriented businesses quote prices in dollars, as do most grocery stores in the larger cities.

Small stores may quote prices in riel, but they will all accept dollars as payment. In the Cambodian countryside the economy is almost entirely in riel, but even so you will always be able to use dollars in small denominations

For the anecdote, you will have to settle the visa processing fees in USD currency and not in the local currency, funny isn’t it? 
Note that because they do not use US dollars coins in Cambodia, you will get change for your purchases in riel.

Prices in towns bordering on Thailand in the west such as Koh Kong, Poipet and Sisophon are often quoted in Thai baht (THB). Thai Baht is the third most common currency in use in the country.

If three currencies seem a little excessive, perhaps it is because the Cambodians are making up for lost time: during the Pol Pot era, the country had no currency. The Khmer Rouge abolished money and blew up the National Bank building in Phnom Penh.

Other foreign currencies such as Pounds or Australian Dollars will likely not be accepted but can be exchanged in main cities, though the rate might be at your disadvantage.

Exchange

Although Cambodia's official currency is the Riel, the US Dollar is used in most transactions, so we recommend taking a supply of US Dollars in cash, including some small denomination notes.

Armed with enough cash, you will not need to visit a bank at all because it is possible to change small amounts of dollars for riel at hotels, restaurants and markets.

Get US Dollars from your home country

While it is obviously easy for U.S. citizens to get US Dollars, you should compare and shop around if you are buying US Dollars from the U.K., Australia or Canada as the exchange rates on offer vary considerably. 

One of the most convenient ways to get a decent exchange rate is to order your currency in advance, and then collect it from the provider's outlet, or arrange delivery.

You can check the best rates available, and suitable providers, on price comparison websites such as moneysavingexpert.com or travelsupermarket.com. 

As a rule, avoid exchanging money at the airport unless you have pre-ordered to secure a favorable rate. 

The Post Office's pre-ordering service is usually competitive and convenient for collection. It is worth requesting some small denomination notes when you order.

Your US Dollars will be rejected if they are ripped, torn, or otherwise overly abused. Old-style US bills are also not welcome, so make sure that the cash you bring is fairly new. It is also worth scrutinizing the change you are given to make sure you do not receive bad bills.

If for any reasons, you could not bring any US Dollars for your trip to Cambodia, do not worry, there are still solutions.

Exchange other foreign currencies

Cash in other major currencies such as Pounds, Australian dollars and Canadian dollars can be changed at banks or markets in major cities. However, most banks tend to offer a poor rate for any non-dollar transaction so it can be better to use moneychangers, which are found in and around every major market.

As it is often the case, larger bills are exchanged at slightly higher rates than smaller bills.

Also note that most banks are closed on weekends and holidays, as well as being closed for a week every April during the Khmer New year.

We do not recommend you exchange money on the streets or through tuk-tuk drivers. This is a great way to get scammed, particularly in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.

As a last resort, Western Union and MoneyGram are both represented in Cambodia for fast, if more expensive, money transfers. Western Union is represented by Acleda Bank, and MoneyGram by Canadia Bank.

When you leave the country, do not forget to exchange your remaining riel before you take off since you will struggle to get rid of them outside Cambodia.

ATMs in Cambodia

There are credit-card-compatible ATMs (Visa, MasterCard, JCB, Cirrus) in most major cities. There are also ATMs at the Cham Yeam, Poipet and Bavet borders if arriving by land from Thailand or Vietnam. 

Machines usually give you the option of withdrawing in US dollars or riel. However, if you are using a foreign ATM card, you will likely only be able to withdraw dollars.

Single withdrawals of up to US $500 at a time are usually possible, providing your account can handle it. Stay alert when using ATMs late at night.

ANZ Royal Bank has the most extensive network, including ATMs at petrol stations, and popular hotels, restaurants and shops, closely followed by Canadia Bank. 

Acleda Bank has the widest network of branches in the country, including all provincial capitals, but their ATMs generally only take visa-affiliated cards. Most ATM withdrawals incur a charge of US $4 to 5.

Credit Cards in Cambodia

Cambodia is primarily a cash society and the use of credit card is not as common as in western countries. 

Top-end hotels, airline offices and upmarket boutiques and restaurants generally accept most major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, JCB and sometimes American Express), but many pass the charges straight on to the customer, meaning an extra 2% to 3% on the bill.

Cash advances on credit cards are available in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Kampot, Battambang, Kompong Cham and other major towns. Most banks advertise a minimum charge of US $5.

Several travel agents and hotels in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap can arrange cash advances for about 5% commission. This can be particularly useful if you get caught short at the weekend.

Pre-paid cards

Prepaid credit cards are now the safest way to travel with ‘cash’ and are much more cost effective and convenient than Travelers Cheques which are now slowly becoming obsolete.

We recommend the Caxton FX Global Traveler card which offers a fixed exchange rate at 2.75% below the prevailing interbank rate when spending overseas and withdrawing local currency from ATMs. Unlike credit cards the application process is straightforward, but you need to allow 7 days for delivery of the card. 

How much money do you need to visit Cambodia?

The answer just might surprise you and is subject to debate. 

Although Cambodia is one of Southeast Asia’s least developed countries, it can be slightly more expensive to visit than its more developed, economically successful neighbors.

This is largely because there is less tourist infrastructure throughout Cambodia, meaning the few options that are available come at a slight premium.

But do not get stressed, Cambodia is still a very affordable destination for travelers, especially the ones coming from western countries where cost of living is sensibly higher.

In this article, we will breakdown exactly how much you can expect to spend travelling through Cambodia. We will cover accommodation, food, entertainment, sightseeing, transportation, and miscellaneous items. By the end of this article, you should have a pretty good idea of how much things cost.

Accommodation

While Cambodia does not quite have the huge range of accommodation options you can find in Thailand, it is home to a surprisingly diverse range of hotels, guesthouses, hostels and resorts.

Since tourism is fairly new to Cambodia, many of the mid-priced and luxury hotels you will find in the country are just a few years old, with new rooms and high-quality facilities.

Prices for accommodation in Cambodia vary from city to city. Expect to pay a minimum of US $15 for a comfortable private budget room in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, and upwards of US $100 for luxury hotels rooms in either of Cambodia’s two largest cities.

Where Cambodia really excels is in the mid-price range. Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have a great selection of small, comfortable boutique hotels offering beautiful rooms for US $30 to US $50 per night.

Hostels are a great option for travelers on a strict budget. In Phnom Penh, dorm beds can be found for as little as US $7 in a mixed dormitory (male and female). 

In general, accommodation prices are 20% higher in Phnom Penh than in Siem Reap, for a similar property.

If you are planning on staying for a longer period in Cambodia, the average rent for a modern apartment in Siem Reap costs between US $350 to 550 / month depending on the size, location and amenities. 

Getting around Cambodia

There are three ways to get around Cambodia — by air, by road and by rail. We’ve listed the cost of each option below, as well as the benefits and downsides of each method of transportation.

Check out the full guide for getting around in Cambodia here

Cambodia Domestic Flights

Flying is by far the easiest way to travel around Cambodia. It’s also the most costly. Cambodia has three international airports — located in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville — with flights available on domestic airlines like Cambodia Bayon Airlines.

Because the domestic airline industry in Cambodia is small and relatively new, there isn’t much competition and prices are generally higher than what you’d pay for equivalent flights in Vietnam or Thailand. Expect to pay $80 or more to fly one way between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Cambodia International Flights

There are numerous daily flights from Bangkok to Siem Reap and Bangkok to Phnom Penh. Check Skyscanner for prices and flight schedules. There are also several airlines that now make long-haul international flights to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh – again, check Skyscanner for specific routes to find carriers and prices.

Cambodia Buses

Cambodia’s road network is getting better every year, making it easier to reach small towns and destinations that were once very much off the beaten path. There are two bus options that cover most of Cambodia — large intercity buses and smaller, privately operated minibuses.

Buses are by far the cheapest way to get around Cambodia. You can get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap for about $6 on the cheapest privately operated buses, while higher quality buses from companies like Mekong Express cost around $10 to $14 each way.

One thing to note is that bus travel in Cambodia can be slow and fairly uncomfortable. Expect to deal with loud movies (and potentially karaoke on some buses), as well as unpredictable traffic and somewhat aggressive driving from most bus drivers.

Food & drink

Food in Cambodia is generally tasty and affordable, with a good selection of both Khmer and international food available in major cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Eating local food is one of the easiest ways to save money and reduce your daily spending while in Cambodia.

Popular Cambodian dishes include amoka, a coconut-based fish curry, and noodle dishes. Khmer food is available from as little as US $1 per dish and offers a great way to fill up at a very low cost.

Because of Cambodia’s growing popularity as a tourism destination, you will find a good selection of Western and international restaurants in main cities. Prices tend to be reasonable, with a place of pasta available for US $5 to 10, burgers priced from US $3 to 5 and popular foods like pizza available for well under US $10.

Due to Cambodia’s history as a French colony, you can find bakeries and French restaurants in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. Cambodia is also significantly cheaper than its neighboring countries for imported foods and drinks like wine, cheese and condiments.

Drinks in Cambodia are very affordable, with local beers such as Angkor available for as little as one dollar a can in local restaurants. Expect to pay US $2 to 5 for a beer in a local bar, and US $5 or more if you drink in a high-end hotel or restaurant.

Wine in surprisingly cheap in Cambodia compared to its more heavily taxed neighbours, with imported wines available from US $3 per glass in many Western restaurants.

Soft drinks, fresh juices and mineral water are available everywhere in convenience stores and street stalls for less than a dollar.

Sightseeing

While you can enjoy most of Cambodia’s marvels for free, some very popular sights require a fee to visit. Here is a list of the prices as of 2019 for the top attractions in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Phnom Penh

  • The Grand Palace: US $10 ticket
  • National Museum of Arts: US $5 ticket
  • Tuk tuk to Choeng Ek Killing fields & S21: US $20
  • Tuol Sleng (Genocide Museum S21) Prison: US $3.50
  • Killing Fields: US $3 entrance fee (US $3 additional fee for audio tour)

Siem Reap

  • Angkor Wat 1-day ticket: US $37
  • Angkor Wat 3-day ticket: US $62
  • Angkor Wat 7-day ticket: US $72
  • Tuk tuk to Angkor Wat: US $15 (half day) and US $20 (full day)

Alcohol and Cigarettes in Cambodia

Alcohol in Cambodia is very affordable, with local beers such as Angkor (and the very similarly named Anchor beer) available for as little as one dollar a can in local restaurants. Expect to pay $2-5 for a beer in a local bar, and $5 or more if you drink in a high-end hotel or restaurant.

Buy your beer from a convenience store and you can expect to pay less than one dollar a can, assuming you stick to the local brews.

Cocktails in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap range from just a few dollars at cheap bars to $10 or more at high-end venues. Wine in surprisingly cheap in Cambodia compared to its more heavily taxed neighbours, with imported wines available from $3 per glass in many Western restaurants.

Cigarettes are equally cheap in Cambodia, with imported brands available for a little over 6,000 riels per pack and local cigarettes available for 25-50% less. Imported cigars are also available in Cambodia at similar prices to what you’d pay in neighbouring Thailand or Vietnam.

Overall, nightlife in Cambodia is exceptionally cheap. Provided you stick to local restaurants and popular tourist bars, you can have an enjoyable night out with several rounds of drinks, all while spending less than $15 per person.

Frequently asked questions

Q. How much does it cost to live in Cambodia?

According to International Living, the monthly budget for a single expat living in Phnom Penh is about $1,150. Here is the expense breakdown:

Expense U.S. $
Rent: (furnished two-bedroom apartment) $381
High-speed internet $19
Pay TV (standard package) $5
Electricity (including regular A/C) $92
Phone (basic mobile phone and data plan) $10
Water $6
Groceries/wine/beer $229
Entertainment (dining out and other activities) $191
House cleaner (once a week) $31
Healthcare (four $27 visits to a doctor/dentist per year) $9
Emergency insurance $65
Visa maintenance $24
Transportation (regular tuk tuks) $38
Incidentals $50
Monthly Total $1,150

Q. Do you need to tip in Cambodia?

Tipping is not customary in Cambodia but given that it is such a poor country, a little extra can go a long way for those in the service industry. Generally, adding 10% to bills in restaurants and rounding taxi fares up is a good way to show your appreciation.

If you stay in a hotel with room service, it is a good idea to leave a dollar or two per day for the housekeeping staff and bell boys. It is also polite to leave a donation when you visit any of the wats (temples). 

Here is the guide for tipping custom in Cambodia

Q. How to haggle in Cambodia?

Prices are fixed in shops and malls, but you’re expected to bargain in markets and when buying from hawkers. Bargaining is seen as an amicable game and social exchange. The seller usually starts at a moderately inflated price: for cheapish items, with a starting price below $10, expect to be able to knock around a third off; with pricier items you might be lucky to get a reduction of ten percent. To keep a sense of perspective while bargaining, it’s worth remembering that on items like a T-shirt or krama, the vendor’s margin is often as little as a thousand riel.

Here is the shopping guide in Cambodia

Q. When is the cheapest time to fly to Cambodia?

The cheapest time to fly to Cambodia is during the off-season from June until September. As there are not many tourists visiting the country, the airlines and hotels seem to offer promotion to attract more tourist and try to fill-up the plane. If you are ok with the heat and some sudden rain, this is the time for you.

Here is the guide to get the cheapest flight ticket to Cambodia

Q. Is Cambodia safe to visit?

Generally, The kingdom of Cambodia is safe to visit and travel around. The only exception to this rule is remote areas at night. Violent crime in the country is rare. Petty crimes like a bag, purse snatching, pick pocketing and other types of petty crimes prevail. In order to make your trip safe, please follow our safety guide for Cambodia

Check out the safety and precaution for Cambodia

NOT READY YET?

We believe you have the right to arm yourselves with as much information as possible before making any decision.

Check below our detailed tips & guide for every places to visit in Cambodia, recommendation regarding the inclusion in each theme you prefer, and what you can do based on the time frame you have.

PLACES TO VISIT IN Cambodia
Siem Reap
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Tonle Sap Lake
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One of the most fish abundant lakes in the world and supports 360 floating villages and thousands of waterbirds.

Phnom Penh
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Battambang
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Sihanoukville
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Koh Rong Island
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Cambodia PLANS BY TRAVEL THEME
Must-see
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Check out all the must-see places and things to do & see

Luxury
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Unique experience combined with top-notch services

Wellness & Leisure
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Easy excursion combined with week-long beach break

Cruise
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The combination of some must-see experience and the cruise tour along the mighty rivers

Cycling
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Explore every corners of the destination on two wheels

Honeymoon
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Easy excursions combined with unique experience making the long-lasting romantic memories

Unseen
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Reveal off-the-beatentrack routes, least explored destinations, and unknown tribe groups

Trek & Hike
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Explore the least visited destinations and unknown experience on foot

Family
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The combination of fun and educational activities

Cambodia PLANS BY TIME FRAME
white-icon About 1 week
yellow-icon About 1 week
white-icon About 2 weeks
yellow-icon About 2 weeks
white-icon About 3 weeks
yellow-icon About 3 weeks
white-icon About 4 weeks
yellow-icon About 4 weeks
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SPECIAL Cambodia TIPS & TOURS

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Cambodia BLOG ARTICLES

A playground for locals, Phnom Kulen (literally Mountain of the Lychees) is a gorgeous day out. The main attraction is the waterfalls at the top of Kulen Mountain and it’s also a great picnic spot; well set up in Cambodian style with hammocks and shelters to keep you shaded from the sun. It’s around 1.5-2 hours drive from Siem Reap and if you go all the way to the top by van or car, you need to get there early, as the road is one-way traffic only.

The birthplace of the ancient Khmer empire, it is said that it was at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarman II proclaimed Cambodia’s independence from Java.

Additionally, it is a very sacred site with multiple temples easily accessible. Two sites most noted are the Thousand Lingas at Kbal Spean, within the Kulen National Park site and Preah Ang Thom pagoda with its giant reclining Buddha. The area is a magnet to “kru khmer” (natural medicine doctors), and attracts people seeking blessings from its holy waters, particularly the potent life-giving waters at Kbal Spean, that are said to help couples conceive.

You may be interested in Khmer Empire & Jayavarman II

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Preah Vihear Temple (Prasat Preah Vihear) is an ancient Hindu temple built during the period of the Khmer Empire, that is situated atop a 525-metre (1,722 ft) cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains, in the Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. In 1962, following a lengthy dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over ownership, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled that the temple is in Cambodia.

Affording a view for many kilometers across a plain, Prasat Preah Vihear has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the six-century-long Khmer Empire. As a key edifice of the empire's spiritual life, it was supported and modified by successive kings and so bears elements of several architectural styles.

Preah Vihear is unusual among Khmer temples in being constructed along a long north–south axis, rather than having the conventional rectangular plan with orientation toward the east. The temple gives its name to Cambodia's Preah Vihear province, in which it is now located, as well as the Khao Phra Wihan National Park which borders it in Thailand's Sisaket province, though it is no longer accessible from Thailand.

On July 7, 2008, Preah Vihear was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Deep in the forests of Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, the elegant spires of an ancient stone city soar skyward above the sprawling complex of Angkor Archaeological Park.

The Khmer Empire’s various capitals thrived here from the 9th to 15th centuries, while their rulers presided over an empire that stretched from Myanmar (Burma) to Vietnam. Including forested areas and newly discovered “suburbs” Angkor covers more than 400 square kilometers.

Though just one of hundreds of surviving temples and structures, the massive Angkor Wat is the most famed of all Cambodia’s temples - it appears on the nation’s flag - and it is revered for good reason. The 12th century “temple-mountain” was built as a spiritual home for the Hindu god Vishnu. The temple is an architectural triumph laden with artistic treasures like the bas-relief galleries that line many walls and tell enduring tales of Cambodian history and legend.

In other parts of Angkor such art depicts scenes of daily life - offering scholars a precious window into the past.

Reading the below epic guide for Angkor Archaeological Park, you will have all the information you need from its history, maps, best time to visit and so on to have the best out of your Angkor tours

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Banteay Kdei Temple (Prasat Banteay Kdei), meaning "A Citadel of Chambers", also known as "Citadel of Monks' cells", is a Buddhist temple in Angkor, Cambodia. It is located southeast of Ta Prohm and east of Angkor Thom. 

Built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries AD during the reign of Jayavarman VII (who was posthumously given the title "Maha paramasangata pada"), it is in the Bayon architectural style, similar in plan to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, but less complex and smaller. Its structures are contained within two successive enclosure walls and consist of two concentric galleries from which emerge towers, preceded to the east by a cloister.

This Buddhist monastic complex is currently dilapidated due to faulty construction and poor quality of sandstone used in its buildings and is now undergoing renovation. Banteay Kdei had been occupied by monks at various intervals over the centuries till 1960s.

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Just east of Angkor Thom’s Victory Gate is Chau Say Tevoda. It was probably built during the second quarter of the 12th century, under the reign of Suryavarman II, and dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. It has been renovated by the Chinese to bring it up to the condition of its twin temple, Thommanon.

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Thommanon Temple is a Hindu temple site that's covered in intricate carvings and surrounded by forests in Angkor. The temple is in relatively excellent condition, thanks to extensive restoration work in the 1960s.

It was constructed about the same time as Angkor Wat. The style of architecture is quite evident in the towers and carvings, which are in very good condition. During the rainy season, the dampened sandstone offers great photo opportunities.

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the complex dates back between the 11th and 12th centuries. It is about 600 metres east of the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom, just opposite Chau Say Tevoda. Even before restoration, Thommanon was in much a better condition than Chau Say Tevoda. Unlike the latter, which was built using wooden beams enclosed in stone, Thommanon Temple's entire structure was made out of stone. 

...more
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