currency cambodia riel vs dollar

Currency in Cambodia: What You Need to Know

Cambodia is in many mind a less develop country that their neighbor like Thailand or Vietnam, but it’s a fast-developing nation in South Est Asia. As a result, your access to cash or ATMs varies depending on the area.

Understanding Cambodia’s Currency: Riel and US Dollar

Riel: The Official Currency

The Cambodian Riel (KHR). Currently, 1 USD is approximately equivalent to 4100 Riel. Following is the official website National Bank of Cambodia if you wish to follow the exchange rate, but it’s not essential to check the exchange rate before and during your travels in Cambodia, as the value of the Riel remains very stable.

US Dollar: Widely Accepted

Despite having its national currency, Cambodia is also using the US Dollar. Visa-on-arrival charges will be paid in cash, specifically in USD. Remember, while planning your trip to Cambodia, almost all transactions will be conducted in US $.

Exchanging Money in Cambodia

Riel isn’t available outside Cambodia, and it can’t be exchanged back in your home country. You will exchange currency once you arrive, preferably in town rather than at the airport exchange shop, where the rates tend to be much higher.
Currency exchange in Cambodia is an easy process. You can exchange any foreign currency for KHR in several ways. Visit exchange offices that can be found throughout the country at the local markets. Spotting these shops is easy since they have currency notes in a glass cabinet at their entrance. They offer a better exchange rates compared to the “official airport” exchange offices. Be cautious of scams and always count your money before leaving the exchange office.

I’ve changed many times euros to dollar or vice versa when I am heading back there, and the exchange rates have been more favorable than if I had exchanged dollars for euros in Europe.

No more small US Dollar note, why?

Recently, the government has shown an interest in reducing the predominance of the US dollar. As part of this initiative, banks have been instructed to withdraw one-dollar and five-dollar bills from circulation. No worries, even you arrive with some of them, everyone will accept but just be aware that most of the time for transaction less and $10 you will be give Riel back.

Alert: Beware of Damaged Dollars!

Tinted or damaged US Dollar

If you hold some tinted or damaged US Dollar, surely no one will accept them in Cambodia, not because of the business owner but due to some bank complication. As result, you must check whenever you get some change in US dollar, if the note is damaged or tinted, ask nicely to change for a new one. Tips, if they told you they don’t have just accept RIEL, no issue with any of them, and you can always use them later or exchange.

Why Damage Dollar is an issue

Banks will not accept such damaged notes in us dollar, simple fact. They will impose a penalty ranging from $5 to $10! Therefore, business owners, won’t accept them or will face a big loss. 

ATMs in Cambodia

ATMs Availability, most ATMs are present in the larger, urban cities of Cambodia, such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Smaller towns have ATMs too, but there are very few to go around. More importantly, if you plan to go to the islands, make sure you have some cash available as your option to get some will be very limited. More importantly, ATMs charge withdrawal fees that range from $3-6 USD.

Tips with your Money in Cambodia

  • Always carry with you a mix of both USD and KHR
  • You can complete most transactions using USD
  • Buy anything less than $10 pay in Riel, you will get better price.
  • Don’t change US dollar for Riel, just wait to get the change in Riel, it will avoid you the charge from the Exchange rate shop 😉
  • Carry us dollar with small denominations, like $10 or $20
  • Keep in mind that torn currency notes will not be accepted anywhere in the country, not even the banks will help you in this case.
  • If you have torn or damaged US dollar, stay cool. Back in your own country, they will exchange them without any issue.

Also check our article about safety in Cambodia.

New form of payments:

Mobile payment services like Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Alipay are an increasingly popular way to pay, but you’ll need to check beforehand how available these methods are in the shops.
In Cambodia, mobile payments are reshaping the business landscape. Traditionally reliant on cash transactions, businesses, and customers are now experiencing a swift and positive transformation via mobile payments.
You can pay with your smartphones, eliminating the need for cash. This is especially for Phnom Penh and Siem Reap; I myself have experienced paying at Sombai with Apple Pay. Please be aware that you will not find this options in the countryside or more remote areas.

FAQ About the Currency in Cambodia

  • The currency in Cambodia is the Riel.
  • Besides the Riel, the US dollar is also officially accepted in Cambodia as a currency, where an almost fixed exchange rate exists around 4,100 Riels to one dollar.
  • The optimal approach to acquiring Riel in Cambodia is upon your arrival.
  • Be careful on the quality of your dollars
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