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Cambodia forum

Cambodia - prices of street food in Siem Reap

Posted by IvanaCZ on 24/4/2013 at 03:37

I have a very bad experience with Siem Reap as we had to haggle over the price of everything there since they automatically charge foreigners double, sometimes even 4times the normal price. What's even worse is that even when you know for a fact how much something costs (because you saw the locals pay or you asked somebody) they sometimes refuse to sell it to you for the fair price. One example for all: I asked about the price of a cantaloupe on the road to Angkor and was told $2. I pointed out that a cantaloupe doesn't cost this much in my country (Czech Rep.) where we don't grow them and told the girl that I would buy it for $0.5. She simple laughed into my face and refused to sell it to me.

To spare you the frustration we experienced, here are some prices of street food in SR.

Ice coffee $0.5/1000 riel

Little baguette with pork and vegetables $0.5

(In my experience) any small piece of fried goodness sold along the road to Angkor $0.25/500riel
big piece $0.5/1000 riel

If you have a tablet or smart phone, you can download a currency converter which will compare several currencies at once. Very handy, We use it every day:-)

#1 IvanaCZ has been a member since 24/4/2013. Posts: 12

Posted by busylizzy on 24/4/2013 at 04:32

After reading your other posts, it seems like you had a hard time every where you went. Seriously, is it worth haggling over a 50cent coffee? Do you feel good about it afterwards? You can't compare the price of stuff in Cambodia to prices that you pay at home. Would you get an iced coffee for fifty cents?

I'm all for not paying bribes and obvious ripoffs (as per my comment on your other posts), but seriously - you also need to sit back and relax, and not worry about the small stuff.

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Posted by eastwest on 24/4/2013 at 04:56

"you can download a currency converter which will compare several currencies at once. Very handy, We use it every day:-)"


Well, whatever you downloaded didn't work very well and if you had just used your brain (rather than trusting blindly on apps) you would have found out that $1 equals 4000 Riel (as opposed to 2000 Riel which you seem to have used throughout your travels in Cambodia).


No surprise that you found those little things (that usually get quoted in Riel) expensive [img]smileys/smile.gif[/img]. I only hope for you that you got a better rate when exchanging dollars...

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Posted by IvanaCZ on 24/4/2013 at 10:04

Sorry, you're right. I remembered the conversions wrong. I'm gonna correct them right now. Thanks. I didn't use my conversion app all the time, just in the beginning until I got the hang of the conversions. I'm just saying that this kind of app comes in handy, that's all.
I didn't really have hard time everywhere I went. I know it sounds like it because in my posts I just pointed out the negatives I don't think I need to tell everybody how wonderful the places I visited were.
I don't have a problem paying $1 for a coffee if the locals pay the same price. What I don't like is these "special foreigner prices". I don't think I should pay more for everything just because I look different than them. Technically speaking, I believe this would be called racism.

#4 IvanaCZ has been a member since 24/4/2013. Posts: 12

Posted by IvanaCZ on 24/4/2013 at 10:16

I want to apologize to everybody who read my original post. As Eastwest pointed out, I got the conversion wrong but unfortunately cannot correct the original post.
So, let me do it here.

Ice coffee $0.5/2000 riel

Little baguette with pork and vegetables $0.5

(In my experience) any small piece of fried goodness sold along the road to Angkor$0.125/500riel
big piece $0.25/1000 riel

I'm sorry for the mix up, it's been a month since we left Cambodia.

#5 IvanaCZ has been a member since 24/4/2013. Posts: 12

Posted by MADMAC on 24/4/2013 at 12:09

Look, if you go to the hot spots - Siem Reap, Halong Bay, Phuket - no ****, you're going to pay more money than some poor stiff who lives there. If you want to go cheap, you to to the low lights. The cheap places. Ankgor Wat gets something like a million visitors a year. Of course prices go up. Come on... think here.

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Posted by sayadian on 24/4/2013 at 12:46

I drink sugar-cane juice in Phnom Penh (healthier than coca-cola I would imagine). In Wat Phnom I've known one of the ladies selling it for a long time and she charges me the correct price- 500 rials. Everywhere else I go they charge me 1000 rials which is double price but the difference is so small (12 cents) that I can't be bothered to argue. Life is too short.
There are no price controls in Asia. They'll charge you what they feel they can get.

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Posted by JaiYen88 on 24/4/2013 at 16:32

Sorry, but you're complaining about not paying the same as locals, while you spend $1000 on plane tickets and use your smart phone to look up conversion rates??????? You think people earning $50 a month, working 12 hour days, 6 days a week, should pay the same as you for a coffee or some fried rice??????

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Posted by IvanaCZ on 24/4/2013 at 20:46

Yes, I do think I should pay the same price even though the difference is small in our world. It's a matter of principle. In Thailand or Malaysia people are also poor but they don't have different prices for foreigners (except entrance fees). What does it say about the society? That it's ok to rip people off?
And please don't judge me. I may have bought 1 plane ticket to get here and a tablet but I certainly don't have a fancy house or brand new car like some of the people in SR. I'm not saying they are the same people that sell cheap stuff on the street but they are certainly better off than me.

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Posted by sayadian on 25/4/2013 at 05:48

It IS frustrating paying double price when the guy with the $40,000 Lexus and the diamond ring pays the low price but what can you do. Sometimes it helps to speak a little of the language. I know on a few occasions this has embarrassed Khmer people into charging the correct price. The sort of vociferous arguing you find in TheWest doesn't cut ice and just leads to them ignoring you or worse still getting angry. If they get angry you could be in trouble so it's not really worth it for small money. Remember the people in these countries usually work seven days a week with no vacation so they are bound to think travellers who can take such a long time off work are rich.

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Posted by MADMAC on 25/4/2013 at 09:58

"Yes, I do think I should pay the same price even though the difference is small in our world. It's a matter of principle"

Well then you're in the wrong part of the world dude. Cause your principles are not their principles.

"In Thailand or Malaysia people are also poor but they don't have different prices for foreigners (except entrance fees)."

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAH. That was a good one.

"What does it say about the society? That it's ok to rip people off?"

Who gives a **** what it says about their society? What are you writing your PHD thesis on Southeast Asian ethics or something?

Look, the rules here are what they are. Commentary on what they shoulda, coulda, woulda been is useless. It is what it is. You're down with it or you're not. It ain't changing to make any of us happy.

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Posted by JaiYen88 on 25/4/2013 at 11:38

Sayadian, in all fairness, I don't think she's making a distinction between the guy with the new Lexus and the street seller. She's just complaining about paying more than ANY local. Which is exactly what is wrong with her attitude, IMO.

And you say "they are bound to think travellers who can take such a long time off work are rich". Are they wrong, relatively speaking?

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Posted by JaiYen88 on 25/4/2013 at 13:14

It's really besides the point whether tourists 'should' pay the same prices as locals. The fact is that they don't, and that is very understandable considering the circumstances, even if you seem to believe that lots of Khmer people are more wealthy than you (trust me, it's not very many).

Beyond solving world poverty, the problem and solution lie in your own mindset: are you going to get angry with people and complain or are you going to deal with the reality and enjoy your immense privilege in being able to travel the world with relative freedom?

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Posted by MADMAC on 25/4/2013 at 13:20

"And you say "they are bound to think travellers who can take such a long time off work are rich". Are they wrong, relatively speaking?"

Nope, they are spot on.

"Beyond solving world poverty..."

Which has never happened in any society in human history.

"...the problem and solution lie in your own mindset: are you going to get angry with people and complain or are you going to deal with the reality and enjoy your immense privilege in being able to travel the world with relative freedom?"

Exactly. Might as well complain about stone being hard. I live here, and consider myself vry fortunate for the priveledge.

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Posted by turbodieselvw on 25/4/2013 at 20:25

Life is too short to get ticked off over such a small amount of money. Out holidays would be more enjoyable if we relaxed a little more by not worrying over having to spend $1 more each day on food and refreshments.

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Posted by Arikara1985 on 25/4/2013 at 23:48

From reading your posts, you must be the worst traveling partner there is. All I've read is whining over 50 cents here, a dollar there. Deal with it, you are a foreigner, they'll charge you whatever they please, if you don't like it then you find somewhere else.

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Posted by travellingsarah on 26/4/2013 at 00:48 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

I'm no fan of being charged more than a fair price for something, however small the amount, but my acceptance of paying a bit more than the locals has increased the longer I've lived here (which has coincided with increased earnings, so that may have something to do with it, but I also have a better understanding of just how poor most of the people I'm buying from are). As sayadian says - there are no price controls in Asia, people charge what they think they can get, so it comes down to how much you are prepared to pay and how much you want to haggle. There's usually some room for negotiation - and this applies to locals as well as foreigners.

But my main point of commenting on this thread is that I get the general sense that people feel that foreigners paying more than locals is acceptable yet Vietnam (and Hanoi in particular) gets a lot of flack for 'ripping people off'. So what's the deal here? What's happening in Vietnam that's NOT OK? Maybe not a question for the Cambodia forum, but indulge me here.

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Posted by travellingsarah on 26/4/2013 at 03:00 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

I completely agree with your sentiment when it comes to small amounts of money (i.e. not the big rip offs): it's not a great situation but it's best to accept it and not let it ruin your holiday. I don't know about the government encouraging people to overcharge tourists - not something I've heard of but I wouldn't be surprised. The government is apparently taking actions to encourage tourism but I don't really feel they have any idea how to do that or that the people working in tourism really think beyond today's trade anyway.

As to what we can do about it - I agree about the language. Knowing how to say 'hello' and 'how much' and exclaim 'too expensive!" with a smile on your face can go a long way. Knowing what a reasonable price is is also useful, but not always feasible. Still, if I know that last time I paid 10,000VND for some pineapple and this time I'm being asked for 30,000VND I've got a good start point for negotiation. If you're somewhere for a while, then going to the same vendors etc. can help too. And have lots of small change - the 'no change' argument comes up fairly regularly, particularly with taxi drivers and motorbike taxis.

As you say, overall, don't let a few cents get in the way of an enjoyable trip - thinking people are overcharging you all the time leads to suspicion and bitterness, not happy holiday memories!

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Posted by sayadian on 26/4/2013 at 03:01

'people feel that foreigners paying more than locals is acceptable'

I disagree with you. I don't think people find it acceptable. It's more a case of there not being a lot you can do about it. To be constantly on the offensive means you lose the enjoyment of the trip and frankly, it doesn't get you very far.
Ivana's written about two distinct types of 'rip off.'
The transport type where you are messed about by tour companies and the double-price charging for food.
The former is often easy to rectify by picking a better company. For example: don't book in Khaosan Road because it's got a bad reputation.
The latter involves negligible amounts and is hardly worth putting your foot down.
As regards Vietnam. I was told the government actively encourage people to overcharge tourists to supplement their meage earnings. That's the reason it is so prevalent. I think the reason there are more complaints about Vietnam is people find them so much more aggressive than their neighbours. The Vietnamese aren't shy of shouting and yelling to make their point. I imagine, in Vietnam, more volatile arguments go on between travellers from the West and locals than anywhere else in S.E.Asia
So what, if anything can we do about it?
What strategies do people employ?
I've said I believe learning a little of the local language can make you more acceptable and more likely to get a fair price.
What other strategies do people employ?

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Posted by chinarocks on 26/4/2013 at 03:11

Once I am not getting sold food that makes me sick, a bus that is going to break down or, worse again, crash, a hotel room with bed bugs etc then I am quite prepared to pay that bit extra.

If you must haggle then do it in a polite manner, while always smiling and keeping your voice lowered.

One thing that happened me in Siem Reap which I would object to was a hotel going back on an agreed price when we were checking out. While the amounts involved were small (they charged us $25 instead of the agreed $15), I didn't like this approach and think it is very different to simple "overcharging".

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Posted by sayadian on 26/4/2013 at 03:48

'Once I am not getting sold food that makes me sick, a bus that is going to break down or, worse again, crash, a hotel room with bed bugs etc then I am quite prepared to pay that bit extra.'
You're the only person I've heard willing to pay extra for bed bugs ;-)

'I would object to was a hotel going back on an agreed price '
My pet hate is the motodop who swears he knows your destination, gets hopelessly lost and expects you to pay extra for his dissembling.

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Posted by chinarocks on 26/4/2013 at 07:28

"You're the only person I've heard willing to pay extra for bed bugs."

I said "Once I am not getting...a hotel room with bed bugs then I am quite prepared to pay that bit extra".

That is all.

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Posted by MADMAC on 26/4/2013 at 10:58

I always discuss transportion fares prior to engaging the transportation in question.

Food prices are on the menu. If I go to the night market to eat crappy street food, then I ask how much before I order something. If they try and rip me off, I go somewhere else.To be fair, of course, I live here, and so it's tough to rip me off and I don't know it. Actually, I posted this elsewhere, I am getting a deal right now at one restaraunt (owner owes me a favor) and my TKD school is charging me 400 baht under the rate I should be paying.

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Posted by Geer1 on 27/4/2013 at 00:09

Just a note on the sugar cane juice(which I came to love). Prices ranged significantly and were between 500 and 2000 riel with locals paying the same prices. It just depended on location and size of glass/bag etc. 1000 riel seemed most common.

A note about Siem Reap. When at the temples there are the little restaurants out front temples. All of these places overcharge a fair bit but if you stop at one of the places in between temples the prices are actually decent(slightly more then other places but expected in a place like that). These are the places that most of the workers and motodops etc eat at.

And like Madmac says, of course you are going to get "ripped off" in high tourist areas. Ever found any good deals buying food etc at Disneyland? Paying an extra 25 cents etc is nothing and the people selling the goods could use every extra cent so why short change them. They feed their friends/locals for cheaper in some cases because they know these fellow people are extremely poor as well.

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Posted by MADMAC on 27/4/2013 at 00:41

"Ever found any good deals buying food etc at Disneyland?"

This says it all.

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Posted by travelkat88 on 28/4/2013 at 05:23

If you're going to whip out your smart phone or whatever sort of device you have to do a currency conversion each time you want to buy something, you're going to look like a dill. You should be able to work it out instantly in your head.

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Posted by MADMAC on 28/4/2013 at 12:14

Travelkat - Actually the reason you will "look like a dill" is because you'll be one.

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Posted by asiainmyblood on 29/4/2013 at 02:16

I generally hate internet piling-on, but here I've got to join in.

First, I visited Prague once for 6 days and found it rife with rip-offs: I got short-changed in a bakery, when I asked the guy at the hotel whether he thought it was intentional (he's Czech) he said "probably." Another store owner grabbed a large item off the shelf behind him when I pointed at the small option, then berated me when I asked him to put the large one back. And so on; so people in glass houses......

I can't add much more than has been said above, but basically, Cambodians are dirt poor and over the last few years it seems quite a few have decided to get what they can from tourists. I was certainly nicer years ago when this wasn't so common (in Siem Reap and other tourist spots) but whaddya gonna do? About 5% of Cambodians have 95% of the money, and the disparities are huge. $50/month's on the low end, but $100/mo. is common. And in general, I find the Cambodians to be more gentle about this than in VN.

I'd keep that in mind when dealing with a motodop driver trying to get an extra 1000 riel from you. Speaking of which, lately I just tell the guy where I want to go, and pay when I arrive. Say the fair price in Khmer--meaning you know the rate and don't try to rip him off--and those that try to extort you (usually the younger ones with trendy hair lol) don't have much of a leg to stand on when you've already arrived.

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Posted by MADMAC on 29/4/2013 at 03:52

"Say the fair price in Khmer--meaning you know the rate and don't try to rip him off--and those that try to extort you (usually the younger ones with trendy hair lol) don't have much of a leg to stand on when you've already arrived."

I prefer to negotiate fairs up front. Depending on the circumstance, if you hold your ground on the fair you selected this could lead to violence. If his buddies are around... I like it nice and clear right up front. If we can't agree, then I don't have to use his service and he can't complain I am ripping him off because I never used his service. Living here (Thailand) I don't have that problem at all. But when I was in Cambodia that's the strategy I used and it worked well for me.

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Posted by sayadian on 29/4/2013 at 09:51

Pay $1 for two passengers around Phnom Penh for a ride around one or two kilometres. I just tell them that's what I'm giving and they accept it.
Madmac obviously didn't meet a motodop that got hopelessly lost and then asked for double the negotiated fare. :-)
They always say they know where they are going even if they haven't got a clue.
Taxis in Bangkok amaze me. Most of the drivers are from villages in Isan and don't know Bangkok that well so will often refuse a fare if you can't direct them. Taxi drivers in Europe used A-Z's and now satnav but these guys just give up on the fare. No rip offs with taxis so why do people hire tuk-tuks? Dirty and noisy and more expensive than air-con taxi and will often try to cheat you.

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Posted by Geer1 on 29/4/2013 at 10:12

Always, always negotiate your tuk tuk ride fee ahead of time. Never leave it till after the ride unless you already know the driver and what the route costs or you will get screwed over.

If you know the going rate just make sure they know before they take you and get them to agree to it(if they will). There are lots of drivers that won't even take locals because of the small amount of income they make off them. These are the guys that sit in the middle of high tourist areas and if you just get on one of their rides without negotiating you are going to end up paying through the nose or in a fight when you try and pay them local prices.

Most rides around a town will only cost a buck or two even at the more expensive tourist rate. Tourists really shouldn't have an issue with paying the extra 50 cents to get somewhere imo. But in cases like Siem Reap you can get offered exorbitant rates for day tours so make sure you know what they should be and talk them into a fair deal.

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Posted by MADMAC on 29/4/2013 at 12:25

"Dirty and noisy and more expensive than air-con taxi and will often try to cheat you."

Because they are different and they are fun. My daughter loves them. We don't have them in Muk, we have "skylabs" which was powered with gasoline instead of natural gas. They aren't as fun, under-powered.

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Posted by Geer1 on 29/4/2013 at 12:32

I am pretty sure tuk tuks are cheaper then taxis on shorter rides but aren't worth it for long rides. Lots of times you can get a ride for a buck or two depending where you are going where as taxis have a $2 starting fee I believe. Motodops are definitely cheaper for both short and long rides although aren't as comfortable.

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Posted by MADMAC on 29/4/2013 at 13:41

Greer - yes for Cambodia, no for Thailand.

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Posted by exacto on 29/4/2013 at 14:35

Holy crap! You folks are being waaaaay too hard on Ivana and more than a bit self-congratulatory in the process. Her posts are fair comment on a commonly expressed complaint about travel throughout southeast Asia, so get over yourselves. There are several previous, extensive threads on exactly this topic where folks were allowed to vent about the frustration of double pricing. Ivana's complaint is legitimate because the double pricing has more to do with racism than economics. The trick, as a few of you were kind enough to mention, is not to let it bother you. Either accept it as part of the cost of doing business or find a vendor who takes pride in not letting race determine their prices.

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Posted by sayadian on 30/4/2013 at 00:57

'here as taxis have a $2 starting fee'
In Bangkok, which I refer to, the meter starts at 35 baht (more like $1)
Madmac
You think riding through the pea soup they call air in Bangkok is fun! Give me a quiet, air con taxi any day.
Also taxis run on clean gas whilst tuk-tuks are two-stroke pollution machines

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Posted by MADMAC on 30/4/2013 at 08:58

Sayadian
Depends on the taxi. But I almost never take my daughter to Bangkok. We ride the Tuk Tuk in Khon Kaen. And yeah, they're fun. Loud, but fun.

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Posted by sayadian on 30/4/2013 at 10:20

Last taxi I rode was in Korat. Even Ubon has metered taxis now. The worse rip off I encountered was a taxi in HCMC (Saigon). Got in and the meter started racing around like a dervish.Obviously tampered with. I got out after two minutes and the guy showed $10 on the meter!
Has Jana been to Vietnam yet? Cambodia is a doddle compared to Vietnam. Those people know how to cheat you every which way.

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Posted by MADMAC on 3/5/2013 at 13:53

We have metered taxis now in Mukdahan too. And certainly in Khon Kaen, plenty. I don't like the skylabs. They're underpowered. But Tuk tuks can be fun. I wouldn't want to ride one every day, but as a one-off they're OK.

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Posted by sayadian on 4/5/2013 at 02:25

Can you still get the drivers to do wheelies in the tuk-tuks? Now that's fun.

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Posted by MADMAC on 4/5/2013 at 04:11

I never asked... maybe. Not a skylab though. Those things are way underpowered.

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