What is the Cambodia currency and how does Cambodian money work? Ins short Cambodia ins one of those countries that exists within a dual-currency system. That is there are essentially two forms of legal tender, the US Dollar and the Cambodian riel.
Why does Cambodia have two currencies?
When things were a lot less table in the country they used the US Dollar, this was particularly prevalent after the civil war.
Previously Cambodia had essentially been dollarized, with Cambodian Riel being used in place of US coins, which do not circulate. Things though are very much starting to change and Cambodian Currency and Cambodian money is slowly being de-dollarized. More on that later…..
So for now at least the two countries exist in an interchange way, with set exchange rates, but again more on that later.
What is the exchange rate between Cambodian Riel and US Dollars?
There is an “official” exchange rate, which technically at least changes, and then there is the semi-official street rate. For all intents and purposes 4000 Riel is equal to $1. So fi beer costs 50 cents, you give 2000 riel.
At supermarkets, or up scale places they may charge 4120, or other amounts to the Dollar, but generally speaking on the street in restaurants and in taxis you pay 4000 Riel to 1 dollar.
Removal of 1,2, and 5 notes.
In 2020 the Cambodian government announced that they would be removing 1,2 and 5 dollar notes from circulation. This happened and it happened quickly. Officially at least it was due to lack of notes in circulation. This has led to Cambodian currency becoming much more important.
Cambodian notes come in 100, 500, 1000, 5000, 10000, 20000, and 50,000 varities. Sometimes when you pay with a $100 bill you might get $50 back and a selection of local notes 20,000 being $5, 50,000 being $12.50 for example.
What prices are things quotes in?
This is where Cambodian currency and Cambodian money gets complicated. Most places will still quote in dollars, particularly in big cities, or tourists areas. Inlocal shops, or the countryside you are more likely to get quoted in Rial. Many places now dual-price and supermarkets more often than not have swapped to rial.
To read about the best street food in Phnom Penh click here .
In the Cambodian countryside the economy is almost entirely in riel
If you buy a coke with a $20 bill, you can expect a whole heap of rial back as change. Bigger notes people might even refuse to exchange.
What about ATM’s do they give out Cambodia Curreny or USD?
It used to be the case that if you withdrew money with a foreign card, then you would only get USD. Nowadays you get a choice between dollars, or rial. So you withdraw 500,000, you have $125, or thereabouts.
Is this the end of the dollar as Cambodia currency?
Dual currencies systems, such as Cuba, or Cambodia tend to exist when there is a lack of trust in the local currency. In actual fact the rial has been pretty steady for a number of years. Relying on a foreign currency, such as the dollar isn ideal, so it is likely the rise of the rial as Cambodia currency is likely to continue.
I remember on my first ever trip to Cambodia largely refusing local money as change. You simply cannot do that now. So whilst us barang might prefer the Dollar, things are changing and we simply have to get used to them.
In fairness it is better than having no money, like they did during Khmer Rouge times.