Cambodia is full of budget travelers and travel bloggers. It is commonly believed to be the Land of Wonders and the cheapest South East Asian destination in terms of food and accommodation, especially in comparison to Thailand or Vietnam. This however, might be misleading and if you do not control your budget you can easily overspend. Here are a few essential budget travel tips that can help you save money when visiting Cambodia and travel for longer.
Always Haggle To The End
Whether you decide to stay inside or outside tourist areas, you should always bargain with locals. It might be pretty difficult or sometimes even awkward, but if you don’t do it you will certainly overpay. It’s customary to haggle, so sellers start with a higher price and expect you to try to lower it. They won’t be insulted if you don’t, but it’s not good for you in the long run. My advice is if you see something you want, ask about the price then see if you can get a better deal elsewhere. You can always come back if you don’t find a better deal. Always remember that almost everything in Cambodia is negotiable.
Opt For Street Food
The streets in Cambodia are full of food stalls where you can get almost anything, from fish to fruits and vegetables to meats and more. Usually, the food is healthy, cheap and appealing to the palate — apart from maybe the scorpions and bugs. You’ll be able to try different dishes and discover new favorite foods without paying much and eating like a local. This is much different then Western restaurants, where you’re usually eating food from your home country at a higher price.
Skip The Air Conditioning
In Cambodian accommodations, it’s normal to pay more for the air conditioning than for the room itself. It’s unbelievable how much money you can save on having a room with a fan instead. If you really can’t imagine your life without it, go for hostel dorms and split the cost between larger groups of people.
Control The Exchange Rate
In Cambodia locals often ask you to pay in US dollars and give you the change in local currency (Cambodian Riel). This simple trick has been used for ages in order to rip tourists off. Make sure it does not happen to you and always double check the change you are given. Try to stick to one currency, which I strongly recommend be Riels. One US dollar is roughly 4,000 Riel. It’s easier to lower the price from 4,000 Riel to 3,000 Riel than from $1 to 75 cents (no, they do not have any coins in Cambodia).
Learn Some Khmer
As you will probably notice, most locals in large cities such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh can speak very good English; however, once you decide to go off the beaten path you might find it difficult to communicate with people. Therefore, you will need some Khmer words written down or known by heart. You will not only make a good impression and surprise locals by knowing some words in their native language, but you will also be able to negotiate prices when necessary.
About The Author: Agness is a Polish vagabond who, after graduation, left her comfort zone and set off for a journey of her lifetime to China in 2011. She has been constantly traveling the world since then (slowly, but surely as she says), living like a local for less than $25 a day. She love photography and adventure, sharing her travel experiences at eTramping as well as on Twitter and Facebook.