Cambodia Country Guide




The Cambodian Riel (KHR) and US dollar are both official currencies in Cambodia. Cambodian banknotes in circulation include 50, 100, 500, 1000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 Riel.  However, the 50, 100, 200, and 500 Riel notes are not commonly found in circulation. The Riel is only valued outside Cambodia as souvenirs by tourists, since no one outside the country will exchange them.
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The Riel is generally for small transactions (usually below USD5) and therefore US coins are not used in Cambodia. This gives an opportunity for shortchanging. For example, you give USD1 for buying a bottle of water which is 60 cents. The staff should return the amount of Riels equivalent to 40 cents but may keep some of the Riels with them. The money cheated is usually minimal, so just be smart at mental arithmetic.

However, in the rural areas, expect the Riel to be used in nearly all transactions. The US dollar is also used but more in the urban and tourist areas for larger purchases. The Cambodian Central Bank maintains the Riel at around 3,800-4,200 to the dollar. In daily commerce, 4,000 Riel per dollar is ubiquitous. So USD1.50 is one dollar plus 2,000 Riel or 6,000 Riel.

Riel notes go as high as 100,000 (USD25) but 10,000 (USD2.50) is the highest denomination that you would normally encounter. High US dollar denomination notes are easy to break. Even in the smallest of the provincial markets, traders will not flinch at the sight of a USD100 note. Torn or old foreign currency notes may be difficult to exchange, except USD1 bills which change hands often.

Central Market in Phnom Penh by Henning Blatt

Thai Currency
Near the border with Thailand (e.g. Koh Kong, Poipet and Battambang), the Thai baht is commonly used by Cambodian traders but give an unfavourable rate of 40 baht to USD1. Change any baht you have with the banks or money changers since they offer a better rate of 30 baht for USD1 (as of March 2012). Shop around if you want a good rate, sometimes banks are best and sometimes the market traders.

Central Market in Battambang by Trendy64

Country Guide

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