Budget and Shopping in Cambodia

Andrew's breakfast in ChulongPrices in Cambodia are just about equal in many respects to those in Thailand.

A cycle tourist staying in budget hotels, eating street food and going easy on the beer can travel easily for under 10 euros a day. As a couple, we added in some mid-range hotels and meals as well as the occasional guided tour and this brought our spending for two up to 20-25 euros a day.

Remember that Angkor Wat costs $20 U.S. for a one day ticket so a few days of temple-touring can put a real dent in your budget.

Getting money is fairly easy. ATMs are by no means widespread but they are in all the major towns and you can take out enough cash to see you through quite a few days of cycle touring. Some ATMs charge a $2 U.S. fee while others have free withdrawals so it pays to look around. If you need to change money, you can go to a bank or find the jeweller in any market. Usually their case has bills from different currencies spread among the gold rings and necklaces.

You may find it strange to discover that Cambodia effectively has two currencies, the Riel and the U.S. dollar. When you buy something, you can pay in U.S. dollars and any change that amounts to less than a dollar will be given in Riel. There is a more or less fixed street rate of 4,000 Riels to one U.S. dollar. It’s good to keep as much small change on hand as possible since rural vendors may find it hard to split your larger U.S. bills. Any old-style U.S. notes may not be accepted – even if you got them from a Cambodian ATM – and shops are also wary of large denomination bills with rips in them. Most bigger ticket items are priced in dollars.

Some typical costs in August 2008:

Bunch of bananas – 1,500 Riels
Can of beer – 3,000 Riels
Can of soda – 2,000 Riels
Double room in budget hotel – 16,000-20,000 Riels
Hour of internet – 1,500-3,000 Riels
Iced coffee – 1,500 Riels
Litre of water – 700 Riels
Street meal for two – 4,000-10,000 Riels
Sugar cane juice – 500 Riels
T-shirt from a market – 10,000 Riels
Western meal – 40,000 Riels

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