Budget Vacation Guide 2012: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Not only is Cambodia still one of the poorest countries in Asia, but it is also one of the cheapest. Much of this has to do with the fact that seeing as it has only been 12 years since the country officially ended what was nearly 25 years of a brutally armed struggle against various forces, the infrastructure is still recovering and the economy is rapidly trying to play catch up.

That being said, although the value of most foreign currencies still goes a really long way in Cambodia ($.50 beer, $2 tuk-tuk ride across town, $3 entree, $5 hour-long massage), it doesn’t mean the quality of the goods necessarily suffers. Of all the cities in Cambodia currently set to make major moves in the international tourism market, none is more poised to do so than the northwestern city of Siem Reap, a city better known as the gateway to Angkor Wat.

Proof that Siem Reap is set to (or already is) blowing up? Over 2.5 million tourists visited the city in 2010, which puts the visitor numbers directly on par with the popular island of Maui. So why is Siem Reap featured here if so many people already know about it? Because on Maui a “cheap” room will run you about $100/night; in Siem Reap, it’s $10.

Though the entry fee to the Angkor Wat temple complex is somewhat steep at $20 for a one day pass, you can still get a personal driver to shuttle you around for the entire day for as low as $12. Grab a $3 plate of fish amok and a $.50 Angkor beer back in town on Pub Street, and enjoy the rejuvenated energy of the ancient Angkor Kingdom without making a temple-sized dent in your wallet.

[flickr image via Chi King]