Want to know more about the currency in Cambodia? They use Cambodian Riel (KHR), and here’s more info about ATMs, money and exchange rates before your trip.
I will also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about money and currency in Cambodia.
Quick facts about Cambodian Riel (KHR)
- Name: Riel
- Year of introduction: 1980.
- Coins: None.
- Subunit: None
- Banknotes:50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10 000 and 50 000 KHR
- Abbreviation: KHr (Khmer Riel)
- Currency Code: KHR
Can you pay by card in Cambodia?
Card payments are still not common in Cambodia, but some tour operators, luxury hotels and high-end restaurants will accept debit- and credit cards from VISA and Mastercard.
However, Cambodia is a cash society and you should always carry cash.
Are US dollars widely accepted in Cambodia?
Yes, US dollars are accepted almost everywhere in Cambodia, and the ATMs even dispense USD, so it’s the most commonly used currency in Cambodia among tourists.
However, you might get your change back in Cambodian Riel, and you’ll often pay more in US dollars compared to the local currency. The official exchange rate is 4,025 riel to the dollar, and the rate you get from money changers is around 4000 riel.
Also, the Cambodian Visa on Arrival must be paid for in USD.
Should you exchange currency before your trip?
Depending on where in the world you come from the answer might differ. If you’re American, bring USD and two cards that you can use to take out cash from a local ATM.
Some banks will sell Cambodian Riel, but your best bet is to change into US dollars before your trip. With that said, you’ll get more value for your money by using the ATMs upon arrival. However, the VISA fee (if applicable) can only be paid for in US dollars.
Exchange Currency in Cambodia
You can exchange foreign currency in Cambodia in the banks, or get better rates from local money changers in the market. You can often exchange any major currency, including USD, Euro, AUD, CAD, and Pounds.
If you change your money into Riel, you’ll get better value for your money, but you’ll also be walking around with a huge pile of cash if you exchange a larger sum because 10,000 and 20,000 bills in Riel are the most common ones or smaller denominations.
Should you use US dollars in Cambodia or Cambodian Riel?
You’ll get the best rate when paying in Cambodian Riel, but it’s easiest to use US dollars because otherwise, you would have to exchange money into the Cambodian Riel.
Also, if you travel to the countryside, the US dollar is not used by the locals, so don’t expect them to have change for you if you don’t have smaller notes. If possible, try to get as many $1 and $5 bills as possible because they will become handy if you want to pay with US dollars in Cambodia.
Remember to keep your US dollars in perfect condition, otherwise, they might be rejected if they are torn, ripped or even if they look old and used. The Cambodian people like their US dollars in excellent condition.
ATMs in Cambodia
ATMs are available in all major cities and tourist areas. If you have a foreign card, you’ll only be able to withdraw USD from the Cambodian cash machines. The display will be in English or you’ll be able to select your local language.
Always use ATMs that are connected to a bank branch, and never use standalone cash machines as they might have been tampered with. And remember to choose to be charged in the local currency without conversion if the ATM asks, otherwise, you’ll get dynamic currency exchange, which is the worst rate you could get.
Use a travel card without fees if you want to avoid your own bank’s fees, usually around €5 + 2-3% foreign transaction fees. There is normally a limit of $500 per withdrawal and a local atm fee of 2-3 USD.
List of banks in Cambodia
- ANZ Royal
- Cambodian Public Bank
- Canadia Bank
- ACLEDA Bank
More about Cambodia’s Currency (KHR)
A new version of the Cambodian Riel was introduced in 1980 after replacing the former currency with the same name, which was active between 1952 and 1975.
Before 1952, Cambodia used the French Indochinese Piastre as currency in Cambodia since the country then was part of French Indochina. When the civil war started in 1975, there was no functioning currency in Cambodia for a period of 5 years, until 1980.
The Cambodian Riel is given out by the Cambodia National Bank, which was founded in 1954 with headquarters in Phnom Penh.
Why is the US dollar used as currency in Cambodia?
High inflation led to the usage of American Dollars as well, parallel with the Riel. The current rate to the US dollar is about 4000 KHR = 1 USD, and since it’s quite stable towards the local currency, many locals prefer getting paid in USD.
This started in the ’80s and continued into the 1990s when FN gave humanitarian help and refugees sent home money to family and relatives. With inflation of 177% per year for the local currency, the US dollar was salvation for many.
Nowadays, it’s more of a habit that US dollars are so integrated into the Cambodian society.
Cambodian money in various denominations
- Banknotes: 50, 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10 000 and 50 000 KHR
Frequently asked questions about Money in Cambodia
Is Thai baht accepted in Cambodia?
Yes, near the Thai border, many places will accept Thai baht as payment.
What money do you use in Cambodia?
The official currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel (KHR). But USD are accepted as payment all over the country as well as Thai Baht and Vietnamese Dong by the Cambodian borders to Thailand and Vietnam.
What is the currency in Sieam Reap?
The currency in Siem Reap is the Cambodian Riel (KHR), but US dollars are widely accepted as well.
What is the best currency to take to Cambodia?
US dollars is the best currency to take to Cambodia since it’s accepted everywhere, but there is no need to exchange your own currency into USD if your country of residence is using one of the major currencies such as Euros, CAD, AUD, or British Pounds.
Tipping in Cambodia
It’s not customary to leave a tip in Cambodia, however, it’s highly appreciated by the locals since poverty is spread out and service workers often don’t earn much money. A few dollars here and there will help them a lot more than you need the extra money.
With that said, it’s up to you, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to leave a tip. 5-10% is normal to tip in restaurants for good service, and hotel staff might expect some tips if they carry your bag.
Do you have more questions about the currency in Cambodia? Leave a comment below!