The best budget overseas holiday for Aussies right now
Each year the word’s media get together with their calculators and maths hats to count out the world’s cheapest travel destinations. This year the various lists featured some consistencies; the Ukraine, Spain, Ethiopia, Bolivia – which is all very well and good if you live in the USA or Europe, but not so cheap if you’re coming from Australia and have to fork out a AUD$2000 airfare.
No, for us Aussies, some of the cheapest holidays can be found in the South Pacific and Asia. While Samoa is incredibly budget-friendly and Thailand and Vietnam are forever favourites, its Cambodia in all its no-frills glory that continues to top the world’s cheapest destinations lists – and best of all its even cheaper if you’re coming from Australia. With Phnom Penh coming in at number 5 on this year’s Backpacker Index, the city is said to set you back only AUD$19.45 for a night at a hostel, 3 meals, 3 beers, 2 public transport rides and 1 paid cultural attraction. Pretty amazing considering a one-way train ticket from the airport to Town Hall in Sydney costs a whopping AUD$15.90.
Granted, Sydney is world’s away from Phnom Penh. You won’t find anywhere near the level of infrastructure and Starbucks outlets, but therein lies the charm of the country’s capital and Cambodia as a whole. The developing Southeast Asian country is just that – developing. While it hasn’t been completely free of a tourism boom, for the most part Cambodia still possess a rawness with plenty of room to explore off-the-beaten path. Siam Reap's Angkor Wat is its biggest drawcard, and while it’s rarely free of tourists, it’s not completely overrun like other Southeast Asian attractions.
While many come to witness the spectacular Angkor Wat, they end up staying for other reasons. The beaches are unexpectedly beautiful, especially Sihanoukville – an even cheaper option to Vietnam’s Nha Trang with average hostel prices costing around AUD$5 compared to $7. Even cheaper, and in some people’s opinions prettier, is the beach town of Kep where the seafood is prized, especially the pepper crab.
Wherever you go in Cambodia though, it’s not going to cost much. Comfortable hotels complete with air-con cost AUD$15 to AUD$20 per night while catching a bus to anywhere in the country will cost no more than AUD$10. With such low prices, you can only imagine the crazy-low price of food – a meal from a street vendor will set you able around AU$2, while a fancy meal at a world-class restaurant in Phnom Phen will usually cost no more than AU$15. Beverages are equally as cheap with your average drink from a bar costing only AU$1. Amazing if not slightly dangerous.