$5 Adventures in Siem Reap

Let’s be real: one of the major draws to Southeast Asia is how insanely affordable it is to travel there. I knew Cambodia was one of the cheaper countries to get by in, but it didn’t really hit home until I found myself indulging in $1.50 cocktails in Siem Reap. Let me repeat that: cocktails are $1.50 in Cambodia, commonly found in the form of 2-for-1 $3 happy hour specials. I figured it would be a crime NOT to take advantage of such a steal – after all, I’d be paying $10+ for one mixed drink back home in NYC.

This Cambodian Bargain Bonanza continued throughout my 3-day stint in Siem Reap. The $40 I dropped on a 3-day pass to Angkor Wat was offset by just how far $5 could get me in town. And Cambodia uses US dollars as currency for most everything, so when I say $5, I don’t mean *around* $5 – I mean EXACTLY $5!

And with that, I present you with a few $5 Adventures in Siem Reap, Cambodia:

Single Hotel Room

I booked a room at the Palm Garden Lodge, based on its stellar reviews and dirt cheap prices. A sizable single room with a double bed, mosquito net, fan, tv, fridge, and en suite bathroom was mine for just $5. As if that weren’t enough bang for your buck, they also provide a complementary breakfast (fried egg, toast, tea/coffee).
This same room would go for $150+ in NYC.

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1-Hour Foot Massage

For some reason, Siem Reap is chock full of spas offering all sorts of massages and hair/nail care. In the night market and on/near Pub Street, you’ll find no shortage of $5 spa services. I opted for a 1-hour foot massage, which was more of a relaxing massage than the *tough love* semi-painful massages I tend to prefer, but it was still nice (except for the part where the girl did some shoddy reflexology by tapping a stick on the various pressure points – that didn’t do too much for me).
This same massage would go for $60+ in NYC (unless perhaps you hit up Chinatown).

Alternative spa adventure: Manicure or pedicure ($4-5)

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Dinner and Drinks

My very first night in town, I came upon a restaurant with ridiculously affordable main courses and a mojito happy hour special. And, bonus! – they served a complementary fruit plate for dessert. Main course, mojito, and fruit plate came to exactly $5. The next night, I found a different restaurant where a main course, appetizer, and fruit shake came to $5.50. These same meals would easily go for $20+ in NYC.

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Note: Cost of living is a bit higher in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, where these same adventures would cost around $7.

Lindsay Buckley is the photographer and travel blogger behind Frugal Frolicker. She's a New Yorker currently based in Sydney, Australia, documenting outdoor travel experiences Down Under and beyond. Follow along with Lindsay's travel photography on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to sign up for the monthly Frugal Frolicker newsletter!

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