Here at Price of Travel we’ve been researching the costs of travel-related things for every major destination around the world, including prices of accommodation, attractions, transportation, food, drinks, and more, now featuring over 100 cities. Needless to say, there are some fascinating facts mixed in with all of this, and one we’d like to bring your attention to here is what must be the world’s cheapest hostel.
It’s well known that the cheapest travel destinations in the world are all in southern Asia, most notably Southeast Asia and India, so it’s of little surprise that this hostel is located in Cambodia. What is a bit surprising is that it’s not a forgotten relic in some obscure rural town, but rather a well-located guesthouse in the wonderful Siem Reap, which of course is the staging ground for all tours of the amazing Angkor Wat complex.
Meet the Garden Village Guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia
While it’s true that the Garden Village Guesthouse is not your typical hostel, it’s more than a campground, and the US$1 dorm beds are far better than sleeping rough in a public park.
But, there’s a catch…
The $1 dorm beds are in a thatched-roof hut that is partially open to the elements. It appears that you do get a mattress, pillow, towel, and even a mosquito net, but that’s it. There’s also no proper locker system out there so you have to leave your valuables at reception when you are away.
Nighttime average low temperatures are steady, ranging from 79F/26C in March to 68F/20C in January, and it’s always humid, so it might not be too comfortable on the warmest nights, but at least you’ll never be cold.
Also, the dorm beds are right next to the kitchen, so you need to be prepared for some noise and smells while you are saving all that money.
On the other hand, the Garden Village offers:
- Free pickup from the airport or bus terminal
- Free (slow) Wi-Fi in the public areas
- A volleyball court
- Laundry service
- Cheap bicycle rental
- Affordable Khmer restaurant
- Rooftop bar with cheap beer
So you really do get most of the normal benefits of staying at a hostel, even for this ridiculously low price.
Want something better, Mr. Moneybags?
If you can afford US$6 per night you can get a “standard single” room of your own, ranging up to a “deluxe triple” room for US$13.
You can’t book the $1 dorms online, but you can book all the other private rooms from their website. I’m told you can reserve the $1 dorms by emailing them, so you won’t have to just roll the dice and hope one is open.
Lest you think the Garden Village is just trying to get people stuck in some remote place to sell them food and drinks, it is actually very well located, only a few blocks from Pub Street and the main tourist district of Siem Reap. Also, they have a good and cheap restaurant, plus 50-cent Angkor draft beers available all day at their sunset rooftop terrace.
The odd extremes in Siem Reap
From an economics standpoint, it’s interesting that the world’s cheapest dorm beds are in the town built around what is actually Southeast Asia’s single most expensive (and probably most impressive) attraction. Admission to the Angkor Wat temples costs US$20, and once you enter you see that it’s easily worth it and that the money is going to a good cause and a well-run operation. Still, many museums in Southeast Asia cost under US$1 to enter, and even many of the most impressive ruins cost only $3 or so per person.
Also, prices in Siem Reap for almost everything else are incredibly cheap, with those same 50-cent Angkor draft beers available almost everywhere, and full delicious Khmer meals for around $2.
On the other hand, there are amazing resorts just outside the main city that charge up to $800 per night. This truly is one destination that can honestly claim that it can be visited on any kind of budget.
So where’s the second cheapest hostel?
As far as we’ve found, the Hotel Silver Home in Kathmandu, Nepal earns that honor with their US$2 dorm beds, which are also completely indoors. Prices in Kathmandu can also be shockingly low, and there are even reports of US$1 hotel rooms, though they may be like similarly priced rooms in rural India where you get a bed in a private home, with no hostel/hotel services at all.
Do you know of any hostels that are as cheap or cheaper than these?
Dorm photos courtesy of Daniel Massie