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.
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.
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