Siem Reap has an abundance of places for anyone to visit. Whether you are visiting to seek for quick adventure trip or planning to stay longer, this Cambodian province has everything that anyone would desire. There are more than 200 temples around Siem Reap, mountains that you can climb, floating villages that you can visit and even a forest filled with rescued elephants.
There are several ways to tour around Siem Reap on a budget:
- Avoid peak season, as prices for accommodation and transportation can be significantly higher during this time.
- Stay in budget accommodations such as guesthouses or hostels.
- Rent a bicycle or motorbike to get around, as this is a cheaper alternative to tuk-tuks or cars.
- Visit the temples during the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat and crowds, and to save money on the $37 USD Angkor Wat pass.
- Eat at local markets or street food stalls, which offer delicious and affordable food options.
- Consider hiring a local guide for a more affordable tour of the temples.
- Avoid overpriced tours or souvenirs, and instead explore the city on your own or with a small group.
How to Get Around Siem Reap on Shoestring Budget
If you do not mind spending, perhaps the easiest, most convenient way to tour around is to get a tour service. They know everything there is to know about Siem Reap and they also offer guided tours so you can understand the history behind what Siem Reap has to offer. Tours can be expensive, though. Some tour agencies charge a premium for something that you can do on your own.
Also: Living in Phnom Penh: Good Things to Know
So, for those of you who wants to maximize your experience touring this beautiful city while on a budget, here’s our money-saving tips:
Rent a motorbike
Driving a mortorbike in Cambodia is perfectly legal even if you don’t have a license. Any motorbike with a displacement of 125cc and below are perfectly drivable by anyone. Literally. The law allows anyone that can drive a bike to drive any motorbike with a displacement of 125cc and below, without a license. That means, you can tour the whole of Cambodia on a rented bike for the whole duration of your stay.
A 125cc and below bike usually rents from about $6 – $20 per day. You would need to leave your passport to the bike shop though as this is their assurance that you will return the bike. There are places that will allow you to get higher displacement bikes but you will need to get a Cambodian driver’s license to do so.
Hire a Tuktuk
Siem reap is relatively small compared to Phnom Penh. As such, it is easier to travel around using a tuktuk. If you can’t really drive a motorbike or you’re just too tired to even think about working your legs on a bicycle, then Mr. Bong (in Cambodia, they call tuktuk drivers bong), the tuktuk driver can get you around in his ever reliable tuktuk.
Most tuktuk drivers have very basic English though. Should you meet a Cambodian friend in your travels, bring him along in the places you want to have the tuktuk go.
Reminder: Negotiate the rental price before you ride. You need to agree on an actual rental price or else they will just think that you will agree to whatever price they ask. Usually the price for going to Angkor Wat and some nearby temples are $8 – $15 depending on the number of temples you go to.
Visiting Angkor Wat Temples
Now that you figured out your cheap ride to go around, we recommend you visit the temple. But wait, this one can’t be hacked easily. It’s a fixed fee to foreigners visiting the Angkor temples.
If you are a foreigner, you need to pay $37 for an Angkor one- day pass to visit and go inside the temples. This is the fee paid to the Apsara Administration that handles the tourism management of all the temples.
Make sure to purchase tickets from the official ticketing center. A photo of you will be taken in the office center and printed on your ticket. Tickets bought other than the official ticketing center will NOT be accepted.
If you plan on staying longer in this enchanting province and want to take your time soul searching in the temples, get the multiple day Angkor Pass. Now this is where you save a bit more money.
The price for the Angkor Pass is as follows:
- One-Day Pass – $ 37
- Three- Day Pass – $ 62
- Seven- Day Pass – $ 72
If you are planning to stay longer, don’t rush inside the temple in just one day. It is, in fact, a temple. Meditate and take solace in the fact that your dollars can be stretched too.
Get a multiple day Angkor Pass. The three and seven-day passes can also be used intermittently. The three-day pass expires after seven days after purchase and the seven after thirty days. Schedule your trip properly so you can have more value for your bucks.
Ride the Angkor Balloon
You want to see the temples, but you are still having doubts if you want to spend on an Angkor pass? There’s an alternative solution. Ride the Angkor balloon. It lets you see in breathtaking panoramic view of the Angkor Wat and the other temples surrounding it at a 120-meter height. It’s a just a ten-minute ride but every minute is worth it.
The balloon cost is on $15 -$25 depending on the time of the trip. A lot cheaper than the Angkor Pass, and truly unique!
Use a bicycle
The cheapest and best alternative to do a budget friendly tour of Siem Reap, especially if you have the time, is to just get a bicycle.
Leisurely go past the lotus farms or cruise along the countryside. Siem Reap is a bicycle- friendly place. Ride around the Angkor temple area, even without a day pass. (you still can’t get inside the temples though without the pass). There’s even a tour you can join if you want to bike around with would-be friends. Don’t even worry about parking. Bikes don’t need that much space so you can virtually leave your bike anywhere.
You can rent a bike for $1 a day or buy a bike for as low $30. Biking won’t just let you save your money, it is good for health and the environment, too.
Siem Reap is amazing in every sense of the word. Maximize your experience without breaking your bank account. Discover how phenomenal this place really is and its genuinely nice people. Go slow. Breathe. Meditate. Enjoy its natural beauty, rich culture and history.
Contributed by the IPS-Cambodia team
Siem Reap’s Floating Village
What’s the best thing to do when you’re in Siem Reap? Visit the floating village Kampong Phluk. See the photos below!
Traveling to this small, beautiful village, you can take a boat cruise under the shadow of a flooded forest. Cool? In addition, in the evening you can watch the beautiful sunset on Tonle Sap river. At night, visitors can stay there with the community that offers clean and comfortable accommodation. In Kampong Pluk floating village, tourists will see restaurants, shops, pagodas and guests can take a boat ride to the forest to enjoy the rainforest.
A village located on the Tonle Sap in Siem Reap, Kampong Pluk (also known as the Floating Village) is made up of three villages, some 16 kilometers from the Siem Reap. The Floating Village is surrounded by the mangrove trees, home of a multi-species sanctuary.
Sunset at the Floating Village
The flooded village is unique with beautiful landscape that attracts tourists who want to see more than just the ancient temples.
Kampong Pluk is a natural and cultural tourism that includes indoor entertainment, floating houses, and sightseeing of wildlife on the Tonle Sap river in the early days.
Surprisingly, sightseeing tours make the impression of tourists a refreshing place. There are many kinds of birds and reptiles such as snakes, crocodiles, turtles and many other kinds of fish.