I was expecting Siem Reap to be a sleepy, dusty town, similar to those in Burmese interiors. The reality is far from this! Siem Reap is surely a dusty town… but it’s not sleepy. It’s a town buzzing with tourists from across the world! The town is ready to cater to any and every kind of tourist alike. There are hotels and hostels… there are bars and there are temples… there is adventure… and a lot more than what I could explore in the three days that I spent here.
I spent about USD 875 on air tickets, accommodation, tours, entrance fee and food on my three day trip to explore the the Angkor area. Here is what the expense sheet looks like….
I did Cambodia and Myanmar in one trip and reached Siem Reap from Yangon, via Bangkok on a Bangkok Airways flight. There is no direct flights from India to Cambodia. The most convenient way is to fly via Bangkok on Bangkok Airways. If you decide to fly on two separate airlines, remember that Bangkok has two airports. Make sure you budget time for commuting between the two, if required. Another option is to travel via Malaysia, which is slightly more expensive than flying through Bangkok, but may have a shorter layover and be better suited for those who are short on time.
Siem Reap can also be reached from Bangkok by train or by bus. I found ‘The Man in Seat 61‘ had clearly spelled out how to travel between these two countries over land. However, one needs to budget at least 12 hours of travel time for this. Time has always been a constraint for me, and I opted to take the Bangkok Airways flight.
Total international flight cost: USD 520
Internal Transport (Tuktuk)
I explored Siem Reap on tuktuk, like most tourists. Each tuktuk can accommodate 4 people. At times, I shared the tuktuk with three fellow travellers and other times with only one. The tuktuk drivers gladly accept USD and there really isn’t a need to have any local currency handy. Rates for various trips, including sunrise, small circuit, big circuit, full day etc are written on a card and available with the tuktuk drivers and the hotels/hostels.
While one can bargain a little on the price of the tuktuk ride, 2 USDs don’t make much of a difference to the tourists, while they do help in supporting the locals and I never bothered haggling with the tuktuk drivers.
Total internal transport cost: USD 50
My time in Cambodia was short; three odd days is all I had to explore the majestic Angkor Wat and the surrounding temple complex. I had not been able to do much research on the temple complex and really didn’t know where to start. What I knew was that I wanted to see the biggies – Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom (including Bayon) and Ta Prohm. I wanted a guide for all these sites to make me see the hidden ‘treasures’. My requirements fit perfectly in the ‘Angkor Sunrise Discovery‘ tour arranged by Grasshopper Adventures. While I wasn’t sure on whether riding a bicycle for 18 km is what I could do, I decided to give it a go as the 18 km was spread over at least 6 hours, making it an average of 3 km per hour, which definitely seemed doable.
The cycling tour included a the bike rentals, knowledge shared by our friendly local guide, fruits, water, a light breakfast and a delightful, lip smacking local lunch. The entry pass to the Agkor area was not part of the trip cost.
I also went to revisit the Angkor Wat with 3 other travellers and hired a guide to take us through the temple
Total day trip cost: USD 75
Siem Reap has accommodation of any and every type. There are luxury hotels, boutique hotels, guest houses and back packer hostels. I stayed in the Siem Reap Hostel, which has been rated highly by travellers across booking sites. I stayed in the 6 bed mixed dorm. The dorms were clean, as were the bathrooms. The hostel also has options for private rooms, which makes newbie backpackers feel more comfortable. I totally enjoyed playing catch with fellow travellers in the little pool of the hostel.
The bar was lovely and the food from the kitchen was good too. I would highly recommend the place in terms of location as well, 5 min walking distance from Pub Street as well as the Night Market. Siem Reap Hostel was great value for money…I spent ~USD 40 (for a bed in the dorm + breakfast) for the three nights that I was in Siem Reap.
Total accommodation cost: USD 40
I would highly recommend that a visit to the Angkor National Museum to familiarise yourself with the history and culture of the Khmer empire before you being the ‘temple run’. I spent half a day in the museum and it was totally worth the time. The entrance ticket to the museum cost me USD 15.
Every visitor to the Angkor Area needs to buy the Angkor Pass. The passes are available at the entrance gate and you can ask your tuktuk driver to take you there. There are three options to choose from:
1 Day pass for USD 10
3 Day pass for USD 40
7 Day pass for USD 60
Considering that I had 3 days to explore the Angkor Area, I opted for the 3 days pass. The authorities take your picture on the spot for printing on the pass. Keep it safely; if the pass is damaged or the picture cannot be seen, you will be made to buy a new pass.
Total entrance fee: USD 55
Food was delightful in Cambodia. It was very similar to its cousin, the Thai cuisine, but wasn’t as spicy. There were plenty of options to choose for the vegetarian soul. In fact, every dish had a vegetarian and a tofu version. There were salads and soups to keep the health freaks happy too. The desserts were different, sago with sweet potato, rice pudding in coconut milk and a whole host goodies.
For those who prefer other cuisines, Siem Reap had plenty to offer as well. There were restaurants serving Indian, Thai, Italian and European cuisine. The gelaterias concocted some of the best gelatos that I have ever had. The bars offered some fancy cocktails that made my spirits soar high, literally! An average meal cost me ~USD 12, which included a juice, a main course and a dessert.
Total food and drinks bill: USD 80
This is a discretionary item… you may choose to tip… or you may not want to tip. Considering that the locals are still battling poverty, I was happy tipping ‘generously’… as per the local standards. I am also including ~USD 15 that was the fee of the enterprising young man who guided us through Angkor Wat.
Total tips: USD 30
I am sure I am missing out a few details. I will start noting down details in a little book to make sure the budget posts are more accurate. I am allocating USD 25 to miscellaneous costs, which include getting my clothes laundered, buying drinking water and some medicines.
Total miscellaneous cost: USD 25
Total Trip Cost…
Add it all up….~ USD 875
Your costs will depend on other activities that you do. There are trips to Tonle Sap to see the floating village, the Pharo Circus and adventure activities in the rain forests. Your hotel will have pamphlets for all of these. I did not do any additional activity except for a massage, which cost ~USD 20.