I received a couple of emails from fellow digital nomads about the cost of living in Siem Reap, Cambodia. These were timely messages as I stayed in this city with a friend for one month. I figured I’d share important factors to consider to help other lifestyle designers who bring their work with them.
Here’s a breakdown of what to expect when you plan to stay in Siem Reap.
Note: Expenses are based on a two-person budget. Prices may vary if you plan to go solo or if you want a little luxury.
Depending on the amenities and how far it is from the town center, the cost of a room per day ranges from 4 to 5 USD for one person. If you plan to stay longer, say for a month, you can negotiate with the owner and get a discount.
Fan Room for 2 with own bathroom and with WiFi
We were able to get a fan room with two beds and our own bathroom near the town center (Old Market, Angkor Night Market). The original price was 180 USD but we haggled and brought it down to 120. The room also came with WiFi signal. By the way, that’s 120 USD divided by 2 persons. This means that I only paid 60 USD for my share of the hostel. 60 USD or 2400 Php for a month in Cambodia is not bad at all!
Be advised that discounts may vary according to your haggling skills. Here are some of the places we’ve stayed that I recommend for their affordable accommodations.
We met a few people in Cambodia and they told us that there are cheaper options. Maybe when we come back, we’ll check those places out.
Food and Water
My friend and I normally ate two meals a day on most days. It’s not something that I advise but we had goals in mind. We wanted to stretch our budget and we also wanted to lose weight (another story to be shared in another blog post).
Meals from nearby restaurants normally cost 2 to 3 USD. These are rice or pasta meals that don’t include a beverage.
When we wanted to eat light, we share a plate of noodles that costs a dollar. When we wanted to eat out, we drop by a KFC shop or a 4 to 7 USD buffet and feast on their food. For snacks, there are banana fries and rice cakes made by locals near the Angkor Night Market.
4 USD buffet (excluding drinks) – hot pot!
Other than those instances, we buy our own food from the Old Market. We made use of our guesthouse’s kitchen and fridge. My friend knows how to cook so she prepares food for us. We can’t get enough of fruits so we always had them in our meals. Nothing beats home-cooked food!
my breakfast – oatmeal with fruits and raisins
bacon baguette by Doi
Sautéed peppered chicken with potato and carrots by Doi
A water tank costs 1 USD per 10 Liters which we buy from the hostel.
Internet is an important part of my routine as I rely on it to work on my freelance jobs. I don’t have other sources of income so it’s a must that I have fast and secure WiFi connection every time. I brought my laptop with me as we searched for affordable places to stay in Siem Reap.
Depending on the hostel and how many people are sharing the network, internet speed can go as high as 0.6Mbps. Not fast but it’s alright for writing and blogging work.
You can also drop by hotels or other restaurants and order food so you can use their internet. I normally stop by the KFC shop to spend hours online. At least the air condition’s free too. They have outlets if you need to charge your laptop. Don’t forget your universal charger!
If you want to have your clothes laundered, they only cost 1 USD per kilogram. It’s not expensive but since every dollar counts, we decided to buy laundry soap and wash our clothes by ourselves. It was summer season (March 2012) and clothes would be ready in 2 hours. Thank heavens for quick-drying clothes!
Speaking of clothes, I love the fact that I don’t have to “dress to impress”. I usually wear a comfortable tank top and my shorts plus the complimentary slippers from the hostel whenever I go out to walk or get a bite to eat.
I brought more than 10 shirts, 4 shorts, and 2 pants for this whole backpacking trip. I ended up using 3 sandos, 2 shirts, and 2 shorts for a month in Siem Reap. It made me realize I should’ve packed less.
The hostel offers free bike usage and I took advantage of it by biking in Siem Reap every other day. Whether I do it for errands or for sightseeing, I make use of the complimentary bike for exercise. I especially love it that there are open spaces outside the town center and I’m free to pedal till my legs hurt.
* Regular bikes cost 1 USD per day. Mountain bikes cost 5 USD per day.
free bike from the hostel!
I also go to the gym to work up a sweat. In my goal of getting back to an active lifestyle, I visit a no-frills gym for 1 USD per hour. I wanted to get back in shape and lose excess pounds I gained from too much eating.
Speak Nean Gym II
With not a lot of pressure on my hands, here’s my routine on most days.
8am – Wake up and Take a Bath
9am – Go Online and check for Updates
10am – Bike Exercise
11am – Buy and Prepare Food
12noon – Lunch
1pm – Work Online
5pm – Gym Exercise
7pm – Buy Food for Dinner or Eat Out
8pm – Work Online
10pm – Sleep
Pretty boring eh? Sometimes, I’d interchange my schedules whether I go out and bike first, or go online to get work done for a deadline. It depends. The good thing is that I don’t have to report at a certain time so long as I get my tasks accomplished.
Here are some random thoughts that I don’t know how to categorize but I’d like to share them anyway:
- A line of rust formed on my toenails; it must be the water. I’d take a photo of them but I’d gross you out if I did.
- Mosquito lotion is a must! However, we use mosquito coils at night for economical reasons.
- If your country is an ASEAN member, there’s no need for a Visa. Cambodia allows you 21 days of entry if you travel by land. I travelled to Bangkok in between which refreshed the number of days. If you plan to stay longer, you will need a Visa (tourist, business, etc.)
- My friend sprained her leg and ankle due to a bike accident; thanks to my girlfriend for buying me a first-aid kit!
- Meeting strangers and newfound friends is always a welcome treat.
- I still don’t know how to cook.
- Knowing how to speak numbers in Khmer language helps when buying items from shops.
- I wasn’t able to visit the temples on my bike as I had to pay for tickets. But you can go to the temples around 5:30pm when there are no more officers manning the area.
To give you an idea, here’s an approximate budget per person just for basic needs. This budget doesn’t include the tour to the Angkor Temples (around 35 USD per day – tickets and tuktuk) or the border run if you plan to reenter to extend your stay (around 15 USD for bus and taxi fares back to and fro the border in Aranyaprathet).
60 USD = Rent (good for two)
2 USD = Water Tanks at 10 Liters Each
180 USD = Meals 3 Times a Day at 2 USD/meal – given that you buy your meals at an affordable restaurant.
That’s a total f 212 USD per month. It’s a lot cheaper if you cook your own meals and not spend on unnecessary items You don’t have to buy a bottle of water every time; you can buy once every week and have it refilled with the water from your hostel.
Just make sure you think about what you spend.
I want to tally how much my total expenses were, but they’re still in my notepad and I’m too lazy to compute them. I’ll probably update this post once I’ve added all my expenses. Again, if you can budget the food, you wouldn’t have to pay as much.
So is it expensive to stay in Siem Reap for one month? Not at all. It’s even more expensive if you stay elsewhere.
I’ll be back!
When I visited this city last year, I fell in love with it that I told myself I’ll stay here longer when I start this whole digital nomad lifestyle. Now that I have lived here for a month, I’ve grown even fonder of the place.
Life is simple and the people are friendly. I don’t have to worry about dressing up or looking good. I’m away from the noise a city brings. Though I’m online most of the time, I still have a few moments where I can disconnect and just be thankful that I’m alive. Siem Reap, I’ll be back!
Here’s a couple of comprehensive guides about Siem Reap:
- Tips and Things to Know about Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Digital Nomad Life: One Month in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Check out my other adventures here:
- Quick Update from Bousavy Guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Siem Reap and Bangkok Chronicles
- Getting There: Cebu to Manila to Clark to Bangkok to Aranyaprathet to Siem Reap
- No Ordinary Train Ride From Bangkok to Aranyaprathet
- Bangkok to Siem Reap: Avoid Scammers from Aranyaprathet to Poipet Border
- Where to Stay: Bousavy Guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Where to Stay: Victory Guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Cambodia Trip: Angkor Thom Gate, Bayon Temple and Elephant Terrace
- Cambodia Trip: Trees in Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap
- Cambodia Trip: Walking Barefoot at Angkor Wat Temple
- Cambodia Trip: Pre Rup, Banteay Srei and East Mebon Temples
- Cambodia Trip: Haggling Prices in Angkor Night Market
- Cambodia Trip: Those Khmer Kids Selling Merchandise
- Cambodia Trip: Chill Out and Relax at Pub Street in Siem Reap
- Cambodia Trip: Insightful Conversations Over a Fish Massage
- Cambodia Trip: Land Mine Victims
- Cambodia Trip: A Guide to Eating Cheap Khmer Food in Siem Reap
- Cambodia Trip: Engrish and Random Sights in Siem Reap
- Cambodia Trip: Shuttle Bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok, Thailand
- Total Budget Expense in Siem Reap, Cambodia
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soloflightEd.com is a travel blog by Edcel Suyo. He enjoys performing headstands and crazy stunts during his trips in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Now based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and working to earn a living, he takes time to enjoy the city and travel during weekends.
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