Cambodia isn’t the first country you think of when planning a holiday to Asia. Its neighbours Vietnam and Thailand are far more popular in comparison. However, there is one area where Cambodia is unmatched when it comes to tourism, and that’s the extremely low cost of travelling through and staying in the country.
$5 for a hotel room
Backpackers will be the first to tell you: Cambodia has some astonishingly low prices when it comes to food and accommodations. Cambodia’s official currency is the Riel (KHR), but by far most establishments use US dollars. So before you head off, it’s wise to get a healthy amount of US dollars.
For as little as 5 dollars, you can already get yourself a fairly decent hostel room. And if you’re looking for something more luxurious, hotel rooms with room service and a pool won’t cost more than 20 dollars a night. These tend to also come with free internet. The same applies to eating out in Cambodia. Restaurants offer delicious meals for 4 to 10 dollars, and street merchants are even cheaper, though hygiene can be lacking here.
Be wary, though. Some shop keeps will inflate the prices of their goods in the hopes that an unwitting foreigner thinks they are fair prices. This is especially the case around the popular tourist sites such as Angkor Wat. If you see prices that are in the tens of dollars, you are likely being scammed, and you’re better off shopping somewhere else. Certain restaurants are specifically catered to wealthy foreigners. These are also best avoided if you’re looking for a budget trip.
So what is there to do in Cambodia?
It might be fun and all that Cambodia is so incredibly cheap, but what does it have to offer tourists? The answer is, plenty! Cambodia has some of the best sights and areas to enjoy in all of Southeast Asia. The most famous of these are its religious buildings, and first and foremost among them is the temple complex of Angor Wat. It is without a doubt Cambodia’s primary attraction for foreign tourists. Its namesake temple is the largest religious structure in the world, yet only makes up a tiny fraction of the total amount of temples.
But Cambodia also has a rich and harrowing political history which it is eager to share with tourists. Under the reign of the Khmer Rouge, the country’s inhabitants suffered some of the worst oppressions recorded in history. Travellers can visit places like the Tuol Sleng museum, or the infamous Killing Fields where countless lost their lives under the dictatorship of Pol Pot.
Remember to get your visa in order
Cambodia has a strict visa requirement for travellers from the UK. It’s virtually impossible to avoid this. While Cambodia has deals with certain countries regarding visa-free travel, the United Kingdom is not one of them. Luckily, Cambodia has a digital visa which can be applied for online. All that is required is to fill in the online application form and make the payment. The visa is afterwards sent to you by e-mail, after which you can print it and carry it with your passport. Pickpockets are not a rare sight in Cambodia. Make sure to keep your visa and passport in a safe and secure location. If you are caught without either of these, you risk a hefty fine or even deportation.