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Banking in Cambodia, Camdia Currency

Banking in Cambodia, Camdia Currency

By Wendy Updated Sep. 29, 2022

The national currency in Cambodia is the Riel. Travelers should carry at least a day’s worth of cash in smaller denominations for quick purchases. US dollars are accepted in most hotels, restaurants, and shops, so they can be relied upon for larger purchases.

To get some of this cash to spend, travelers can stop at any one of the numerous ATMs around the cities Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. If you prefer plastic transactions you can use your Visa or MasterCard in upscale hotels and restaurants.

Banking, and specifically buying things, is very easy in Cambodia - no matter how you plan to do it.

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Quick Facts

  • The national currency is the Riel.
  • The current exchange rate between Riel and Dollar is about 3500:1 although at times is has risen to 3900 Riel to the dollar.
  • The Riel comes in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 50000, and 100000.
  • The U.S. Dollar is widely accepted (more on that below).
  • Thai Baht is accepted at some locations near the Thai border but this is not recommended or reliable.
  • Exchanging currency within the country is legal and money exchangers are quite common.
  • High-end restaurants and hotels will accept traveler’s checks and credit cards.

Dollars or Riel

As both currencies are widely accepted, many travelers must decide which to use. Using dollars will prevent you from paying an exchange fee (assuming you possess them prior to arriving), however, they are not universally accepted. Some small shop owners might refuse to accept dollars and in many cases they will not have change (or pretend not to) so avoid only carrying large denominations.

Another limitation for using dollars is that the locals are somewhat picky about the condition of the bills. If the bill is old, worn or torn, most will refuse to accept it. ATM’s only issue Riel (with a few exceptions) and so you might find yourself with a mix of dollars and Riel. Shop keepers prefer and occasionally insist you pay in one currency, so this can get complicated.

As a general rule, carrying enough Riel to cover one night in a hotel and one meal in case of emergencies is recommended (around $50 worth).

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Local Prices

Cambodia is a relatively affordable place to travel. Here are average prices for common goods in USD:

  • Water (12 Oz): US$1
  • A coconut: US$2
  • The Riel comes in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 50000, and 100000.
  • Coffee or Cappuccino: US$3
  • Domestic beer: US$3
  • Snack: US$3-5
  • A short transfer on a local tuk tuk: US$5

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Cash or Card

Until recently it was unadvisable to rely on your credit card while traveling in Cambodia. Today, many major hotels, restaurants, and shops will accept Visa and MasterCard. However, if you plan to do any bartering, eating of street food, or buying gifts and crafts from small vendors, you will need to carry cash as well.

Carrying a credit card while traveling, offers you more security than cash alone, so having both but keeping them in separate locations is the best option. If you have concerns about your credit card make sure to call your bank before you depart.

ATMs

In Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and other tourist cities, such as Sihanouk Ville and Battambang, you will find ATMs.

The majority of these ATMs will accept any card backed by Visa or MasterCard. Additionally, Cirrus, Plus and Maestro are widely accepted. If you use one of these cards, the ATM will likely offer you the choice of withdrawing either Riel or USD.

As when traveling in any country, carefully check around the ATM before you use it to ensure that there are no cameras or devices used to acquire your information attached to the machine.

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Checks, Traveler’s Checks, and Money Orders

Traveler’s checks and checks are accepted by higher-end restaurants, hotels, and even a few chain stores. Traveler’s checks can be excellent in emergencies but with the advent of ATMs in Cambodia, they are quickly waning in their daily use.

Money orders are generally not accepted, although MoneyGram and Western Union do offer this service and have offices in Cambodia. You can also seek out one of these companies if you need to do a cash transfer, though be prepared to pay a significant fee.

Banks

Below are the contact addresses for the major Cambodian banks in Phnom Penh . These locations, as well as their other branches, can cash traveler’s checks and exchange currencies.

Cambodian Commercial Bank #26 Monivong Street - Tel: (23) 426145

Cambodia Mekong Bank #1 Street 114 - Tel: (23) 430518

Foreign Trade Bank of Cambodia #24-26 Norodom - Tel (23) 724466

Standard Charters Bank #89 Norodom - Tel: (23) 216685

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Private Money Exchange

At a bank you are likely to be charged as much as 4% to exchange USD to Riel. Private money exchangers are legal, easy to find, and will often offer a lower rate. The locations of these exchange offices vary in frequency but fear not, a short walk will almost always take you past one. Look for yellow Western Union signs that many use to advertise their services.

Keeping your Money safe

Whether you plan to use your card or cash, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Always wear your purse or backpack in front of you.
  • Make sure that purse straps go across your chest and not just over your shoulder to prevent theft.
  • Carefully inspect ATMs for theft devices such as cameras.
  • Carry small denominations of any currency you plan to use in one pocket and larger denominations in another to prevent you having to pull out all of your cash when you make a small purchase.
  • If you know you are going to be using cash, break larger bills at stores and restaurants rather than small shops, to prevent receiving counterfeit change.

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