After living and working in various areas of Phnom Phen over the last five years, I found that I was missing one vital experience. Living like a Khmer! Now, most Khmer wages are very low, averaging $120/ $180 per month, Which I certainly believe is very unfair and possibly inhumane. However, it’s not my country, so I try and keep quiet and don’t stick my nose into other people’s business, plus there would be a good chance of me disappearing or eventually being deported for good if I became against the system in place at the moment. But the good news, I do see changes and it will change, however it will take a few more generations for action to take place.
Cost of living in Cambodia. Well, I moved into a Khmer community with a Khmer background, I was accepted due to having connections within a family, who as very cheap rental property/accommodation and also them having a son Mandarin, Which I always thought was a type of orange, excuse the pun. This helped, and was a great relief from no one speaking English apart from the two sentences, “how are you and what is your name.”
I’m living in a wooden hut room with wooden windows and a floor mat, pillow (small pillow), lots of coat hangers and nails in the support joists for hanging my clothes and a fan. This at first, was uncomfortable, however, your body seems to adapt and now, I get a good nights sleep when the rooster doesn’t wake me at 4 am.
The washroom is shared between 7 other families, who each live in one room between three or four of them. Glad there’s only me! Or I would go stir crazy. Now this costs $30 dollars per month, that’s $1 per day. Which I basically just sleep in. This is how most working class Khmers have to live, due to wages as I mentioned above. I have learned, I can get by on $3 dollars a day and it’s broken down like this. $1 for breakfast which is pork, rice and fried egg, not so bland with soy sauce on the rice, 50cents for my petrol to work , which is 20km in total 50c for a burger at lunch or a pot noodle and my evening meal, may consist of chicken vegetables and white soft noodles in a soup which costs $1 , Very tasty with sauce added and filling. In Khmer riel, this is 12,000 Riel for the day. 4000 Riel is the equivalent of one dollar. Rice is the equivalent of us eating bread with our meals. Some days it’s a grind to eat again.
So in total, my outgoings for the day with lodgings is $4 or 16,000 Riel. This times 30 days brings me into the $120 wage group and if I’m on $180, I can possibly save for toiletries and maybe ill health, As there is not a safety net here, like in Europe, no social security, no FREE national health service, dentist etcﾅ
Most Cambodians have a tough life, however, they are always smiling and playing around, possibly to take the pain away with living such a low level of standard basic care/life. I take my hat off to them!! They all pull together within the community and help when it’s needed, including the owner of the rented accommodations, A lady called Auntie to everybody as if you fall behind with the rent, she will support you, until your back on your feet, so to speak.
Below, are a few of the prices I found with living here for the last five years. If you would like to know more please email me tonymoorhouse@gmail They can vary in different areas, only slightly, though. Say for example, on the Riverside, which is the tourist area, a sugar cane drink with ice, will cost you 50cents or two thousand riel, outside the tourist areas it is a standard 25 cents or one thousand riel and this is really refreshing on these humid hot days!
Difference in price v Thailand
Consumer Prices in Phnom Penh are 1.51% lower than in Bangkok
Consumer Prices Including Rent in Phnom Penh are 8.07% lower than in Bangkok
Rent Prices in Phnom Penh are 22.26% lower than in Bangkok
Restaurant Prices in Phnom Penh are 1.51% higher than in Bangkok
Groceries Prices in Phnom Penh are 4.95% lower than in Bangkok
Local Purchasing Power in Phnom Penh is 59.07% lower than in Bangkok
Thailand Cambodia Difference
Thailand Cambodia Difference
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant
60.00 (1.72 $) 87.12 (2.50 $) +45.20 %
At street vendors, you can buy meals from has little as $1
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught)
60.00 (1.72 $) 34.85 (1.00 $) – 41.92 %
58.56 (1.68 $) 71.14 (2.04 $) +21.48 %
Many street vendors sell their coffee from $50 cents upwards
Water (0.33 liter bottle)
9.42 (0.27 $) 12.48 (0.36 $) +32.43 %
Look for local water that is connected to a water purifier, many places are now installing such systems in guesthouse, hotels etc.
Milk (regular), (1 liter)
50.76 (1.46 $) 69.06 (1.98 $) +36.04 %
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g)
37.36 (1.07 $) 42.92 (1.23 $) +14.90 %
Rice (white), (1kg)
38.43 (1.10 $) 26.04 (0.75 $) -32.24 %
92.27 (2.65 $) 113.17 (3.25 $) +22.66 %
39.48 (1.13 $) 35.22 (1.01 $) -10.79 %
67.85 (1.95 $) 108.90 (3.12 $) +60.49 %
43.32 (1.24 $) 36.19 (1.04 $) -16.46 %
46.71 (1.34 $) 49.98 (1.43 $) +7.00 %
34.68 (1.00 $) 33.26 (0.95 $) -4.11 %
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)
500.00 (14.35 $) 348.47 (10.00 $) -30.31 %
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro)
100.00 (2.87 $) 52.27 (1.50 $) -47.73 %
Transportation One-way Ticket (Local Transport)
20.00 (0.57 $) 69.69 (2.00 $) +248.47 %
Monthly Pass (Regular Price)
1,000.00 (28.70 $) 871.18 (25.00 $) -12.88 %
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)
35.00 (1.00 $) 34.85 (1.00 $) -0.44 %
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)
10.00 (0.29 $) 34.85 (1.00 $) +248.47 %
Gasoline (1 liter)
27.58 (0.79 $) 31.46 (0.90 $) +14.08 %
Utilities (Monthly) ]
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment
2,143.74 (61.52 $) 2,749.05 (78.89 $) +28.24 %
If you use Smart, Metfone Sims , credit can be bought for $1 dollar.
When using Smart or Metfone and calling overseas, use their gateways and the calls can cost as little as 7cents per minute.
Rent Per Month
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre
12,746.63 (365.79 $) 11,191.25 (321.15 $) -12.20 %
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre
6,963.38 (199.83 $) 6,059.51 (173.89 $) -12.98 %
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre
34,682.80 (995.29 $) 37,047.86 (1,063.16 $) +6.82 %
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre
17,384.82 (498.89 $) 16,077.14 (461.36 $) -7.52 %
This report was made March 2017 and currency and price of commodities may have changed since then, therefore, we are not responsible for any miscalculations. Have a great holiday or a great time, if you’re living the dream.
Freelance writer / Anthony Moorhouse, living and working around Asia – Blog on the roadtonowhere coming soon!