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THE BACKPACKSTERS

Budgeting for a trip to Angkor, Cambodia

The best part about traveling through South East Asia is the affordability.

As true as this is for the citizens of the western world, the fact remains that for travellers from many other countries, visiting South East Asian countries requires a bit of pre-travel budgeting.

 

Exploring the ruins of Beng Mealea

 

To make this easier, lets start with Cambodia (one of the must-sees in the region) and here's the low down on how to estimate your travel costs to visit the Kingdom of Wonder!

 

1. Flights:

  • The most expensive part of the budget, obviously, is the flight expense. But, when you have a huge number of low cost carriers operating in the region, its not too hard to find the best deals! The distances are not too great either, especially if you are flying within the sub-continent.
  • Air Asia is quite popular, with daily flights out to Thailand/Malaysia (from Bangalore) which are the connecting hubs to fly onward to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
  • If you book two months in advance, you should be able to find return trip tickets for about INR 20,000 per person.
  • Tickets that are badged "fly-thru" that you will just transit through the airport and there's no need of a transit visa for Bangkok (Thailand) or Kuala Lampur (Malaysia). But it's best to check this once with the airline/embassies.
  • To get the best flight fares, you can always try searching on Skyscanner or Kayak.
  • Our favourite for flight booking still remains Goibibo (we normally buy the travel insurance policy along with the flight tickets and its a lot better than travelling without one).
  • See point 5 for Visa information.

 

2. Hotels:

  • The most attractive part of traveling in South East Asia is DEFINITELY the hotel pricing!
  • You can get amazing rooms at very good prices, and if you prefer to optimise your costs well, you can opt for a good BnB or a family-run hotel for as low as USD 15 or INR 1,000 a night.
  • There are a huge number of hostels in Siem Reap, catering to travellers who are on shoe-string budgets, so its not hard to find one that suits your needs.
  • We came across a beautiful 3-star hotel called the Mudra Angkor Boutique Hotel. The price ranges between INR 1,300 to INR 3,000 a night - which is excellent value, considering they have air-conditioning, a nice pool, fast WiFi and a scrumptious breakfast spread. And they have the kindest staff, ever!

 

3. Activities:

  • The Angkor temples can be visited over as many days as you want. We suggest that you devote atlas two to three days for a fruitful experience!
  • Most hotels offer packages to visit the Angkor temples. Every tuktuk that you will find on the street also has day-trip itineraries for you to pick from.

 

The tourist scene at the magnificent Bayon temple

 

  • Predominantly the day-trips are of these types:
    • Small circuit - this one covers the Angkor Wat, the Angkor Thom (including Bayon, Baphuon and the terraces), the Ta Prohm, the Phnom Bakheng and the Prasat Kravan (a tiny jungle temple).
    • Big/Grand circuit - In addition to the temples in the small circuit, you can also visit the Preah Khan temple, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon and the temple of Pre Rup.
    • For an additional charge, the temple of Banteay Srei can also be added to the grand circuit!
    • Pricing for the small circuit is normally USD 15 (INR 1,000) and the grand circuit starts at USD 25 (INR 1,600).
    • Add another USD 5 for catching the sunrise at Angkor Wat. You can ask your hotel to pack you a breakfast picnic so you can eat after the sunrise at Angkor Wat.
    • The visit to Beng Mealea, which is about 60 km outside the Siem Reap area, can cost USD 40 (INR 2,600) - but believe us, you cannot miss it! This normally includes a visit to the Bakong Temple too.

 

Apart from the temple-run, you can also do a lot of other fun things in the town of Siem Reap:

  • There is a cultural centre in the town-centre.
  • Apsara dance and buffet dinners.
  • Visit the floating markets at Tonle Sap, south of Siem Reap.
  • Cooking classes are held in many hotels, where you can learn a thing or two about cooking Khmer delicacies! 
  • There’s also Pub Street for endless lunches, dinners, beers and fried arachnids (and they have something called the "happy pizza", go figure)!

 

Pub Street is a foodie's paradise

 

  • If shopping is on your list, you must visit the old market in Siem Reap and its a treasure trove for souvenirs, clothes and books!

 

4. Temple pass:

  • To visit the Angkor temples, you will need to buy an Angkor Temple Pass.
  • One-day (USD 37), three-day (USD 62) and seven-day (USD 72) passes are available at the counter in the centre of town. We got the three day pass for USD 62 (INR 4,000).
  • Entry tickets to Beng Mealea are separate (USD 5).
  • So, the three day pass is valid for 10 consecutive days from the date of purchase, out of which you choose a maximum of any three days to visit the temples.
  • Similarly, the seven day pass has a validity of one calendar month, out of which you can use it on any seven days, to enter the temples.
  • Please be careful with the passes, as losing them can result in a very hefty fine of over USD 100 (INR 6,500).
  • If you happen to buy any of these tickets around 5 pm, you can enter the sites free of charge for that day and the ticket validity begins only from the next morning!
  • The ticket counter is known to all locals, and you will not have any difficulty finding it. The ticket is issued with a photo of the visitors printed on it for identification purposes (not transferrable). You can choose to pay by VISA, MASTERCARD, CASH, etc.
  • You can even smile for the picture! 

 

5. VISA for Cambodia:

  • The Kingdom of Wonder offers visa-on-arrival (VOA) for many nationalities, including Indians. (YAY!!)
  • Its fairly simple to get the Visa and takes a couple of minutes to get through with the procedure... the trouble is only with queues when many tourists have just arrived. So you can expect to spend about 20 minutes waiting. It costs USD 30 (INR 1,950).
  • There is also the option of E-Visa. Its very simple, you can do it online from anywhere and you just need to provide some basic information. It costs USD 36 (INR 2,340) per person. This way you will get the visa in your hands before you board your flight to the country. Keep in mind that it takes three days for issuing the E-Visa (although, we got ours much faster than that).
  • You can opt for whichever process makes you feel better.. there is no pros-cons debate here, really. (Bonus for VOA: You get the Visa stamp bearing the Angkor Wat, on your passport page!)

 

6. Food and Drink:

  • There is a HUUUUGE variety of food that you can feast on in Siem Reap (read Pub Street).
  • Spiders and frogs on skewers and fresh crocodile meat are (apparently) delicacies in town! We walked past a cart selling those skewers at USD 1.50 (INR 100) a piece. And the vendor even lets you take a photo for free - yup, there is a USD 0.50 charge if you just want a picture, and not the food!
  • Indian, Chinese, American, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi, Italian, Mexican and traditional KHMER cuisines are available.

 

Khmer BBQ, something you have to try!

 

  • We feasted on a very interesting meal at a Khmer barbeque restaurant. Its definitely worth a try!
  • We loved Viva, a Mexican restaurant at the corner of Krong street. They have excellent Nachos there.
  • You MUST have some tender coconut water in town.. its really so good!
  • On the highway to Beng Mealea, you will find freshly steamed, mildly salted corn-on-a-kob being sold by the villagers. It was a perfect snack to find, in the temple hopping spree that we were on!
  • We already mentioned "happy pizza" above(*wink*)!
  • Budget about USD 25 (INR 1,600) for a day's lunch and dinner for two people, if you are not going to be eating at fancy places. The number goes further down if you opt for street food and local cuisines.

 

The indicative cost for two people travelling (together, sharing) to Angkor should cost about INR 50,000 to INR 60,000 for a three to four day trip considering all of the above points. This number can go down, if you are good at bargaining and you haggle some good deals for the tuktuk service, street food and the shopping! 

 

Tell us how good your trip was, write to us in the comment box below! 

 

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