Cambodia Currency Exchange Guide

Nestled in Southeast Asia and bordered by Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos, Cambodia is a country of plains, rivers, and ancient temples. With its stunning beaches, lush jungles, and vibrant cities steeped in complex history, Cambodia is a destination that promises endless adventure and exploration. From the towering temples of Angkor and the bustling metropolis of Phnom Penh to the serene beauty of the countryside and the pristine beaches along the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia is sure to leave a lasting impression.

General Cambodian Currency Information

What is the currency in Cambodia?

The official currency in Cambodia is the Kampuchean (Cambodian) riel (KHR).

What do Cambodian notes & coins look like?

Cambodia Money

Cambodian riel banknotes have unique and visually stunning designs on both sides. The 50 riels note shows Banteay Srei on the obverse and Dam on the reverse, while the 100 riels note features the mythical snake Naga’s head, Buddha, and King Father Norodom Sihanouk on the obverse, and a Khmer statue, Wat Preah Keo, and Buddha on the reverse. The 200 riels denomination showcases the Royal arms of Cambodia, Naga’s head, King Norodom Sihamoni, and Preah Thineang Chan Chhaya on the obverse, and Paul Ducuing’s statue of King Sisowath and the Moonlight Pavilion on the reverse. The 500cr note includes contemporary designs such as Neak Loeung Bridge and Kizuna bridge over the Mekong River. The higher denominations, from 1,000 riels to 50,000 riels, feature various elements, including the Royal Palace throne room, Kinnari, Prasat Tao, Ancient stone artifact, Naga’s head, vessel, King Norodom Sihanouk, Angkor’s archaeological ruins, and Neak Pean.

Cambodia coin

As for Cambodian coins, they come in different denominations and each one has its unique design. The 50-riel coin features the year of minting in both Buddhist and Gregorian calendar alongside the denomination. The reverse side displays the Independence Monument located in Phnom Penh. The 100-riel coin, on the other hand, showcases the famous Angkor Wat on the reverse side while retaining the same denomination and year of minting. For the 200-riel coin, a symbol of Om from the Khmer language is positioned at the top, emitting rays of light. Below the symbol are two ceremonial bowls, one placed above the other. Lastly, the 500-riel coin displays Cambodia’s royal arms, albeit on a smaller version, and still retaining the denomination and year of minting. These coins serve as a testament to Cambodia’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.

Economy

Cambodia’s economy has undergone rapid progress in the last decade, primarily due to its open market system. Its GDP of $24.57 billion in 2018 signifies its emergence as an influential economic player in Southeast Asia. However, despite a significant rise in per capita income, the country still lags behind its neighbouring nations. Presently, textiles and tourism lead as Cambodia’s two prominent industries, while agricultural activities prevail as the primary source of income for most rural Cambodians. Catering-related services and trading dominate the services sector.

Notably, Cambodia has discovered untapped offshore oil and natural gas reserves. The country’s foreign policy is aimed at fostering neighbourly ties with Thailand and Vietnam while seeking regional and global trading integration. Poor education systems and a lack of skilled labour in the countryside threaten the economy’s growth, accompanied by insufficient infrastructure. Despite these hurdles, Cambodia remains a sought-after investment destination due to low wages, easy access to Asian raw materials, and favourable tax policies.

Brief currency history

Cambodia’s evolution of currency dates back to the Funan era, where valuable items were used for trade. In the Khmer Empire, coins made of precious metals such as gold and silver played a critical role in Cambodia’s bartering system. During French Vietnam rule, the introduction of paper money replaced jittas, and the riel became the primary currency used in Cambodia in 1953. The riel had a bumpy start, but over the years, the Cambodian government has worked to boost its stability and minimize the dollar’s dominance in daily transactions.

Cambodia’s early currency system relied heavily on natural resources such as buffalo horns, cowries, and metal objects used in bartering. Cowry shells became widespread currency traded across borders, and jittas helped make trade and commerce easier during the Khmer Empire era. During WWII, Cambodia’s currency system weakened due to several factors, including the Japanese occupation and the devaluation of the riel.

However, after Cambodia’s independence in 1953, the riel became the primary currency, promoting progress and stability for the country. Despite the initial instability issue and the prevalence of US dollars in the Cambodian economy, the government’s efforts to stabilize the riel have boosted trust and promoted its use in daily transactions. Today, the riel holds its place as a significant symbol of Cambodia’s economic progress and stability throughout different historical periods.

Overall, the evolution of Cambodia’s currency highlights the country’s rich bartering system and trade history, society, and culture impact. The country has come a long way from bartering buffalo horns, cowries, and metal objects to paper notes and coins to reach a period of modern-day progress and stability through the riel’s development.

Taking Travel Money to Cambodia

Travel Cambodia

What currency should I take to Cambodia?

If you’re travelling to Cambodia, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for Cambodian riels (KHR).

Is it better to convert currency in Australia or Cambodia?

Although both countries have their own unique benefits, there are some practical reasons that suggest that it’s more advantageous to convert currency in Australia. By converting your currency before heading to Cambodia, you’ll have a precise idea of the amount of travel money you have at hand and can immediately use those funds which will enable you to stick to your budget and prevent any avoidable expenses.

How much money can I take to Cambodia?

While it’s perfectly acceptable to bring in foreign currency, it’s prohibited to import local Riel. Additionally, if you plan on bringing in more than US $10,000, you will need to declare it upon entry.

Where to convert currency?

You can rely on Crown Currency Exchange for all your travel money needs. With a competitive exchange rate, no undisclosed fees or commissions, and a wide network of stores scattered throughout Australia, acquiring travel money has never been more convenient. We boast extensive experience in the industry, making it a trusted name among customers for all their currency exchange requirements. Rest assured that with our reliable and efficient service, you’ll have access to the currency you need for your travels without any added worries. With 50 stores located throughout Australia, we’re accessible almost anywhere you go. Trust Crown Currency Exchange, the ultimate solution to all your travel money needs.

Is tipping customary in Cambodia? How much is expected?

Tipping is not part of the traditional customs in Cambodia, which sets it apart from many other Asian countries. However, travellers should note that a small tip can have a significant impact on this impoverished nation. While there are no strict guidelines for tipping in Cambodia, tourists who choose not to tip will not be judged negatively. To provide assistance, we have highlighted some tipping customs in Cambodia and suggested appropriate tips based on the location.

Restaurants: Tipping is customary, and 10% of the total bill is usually adequate. Tip more if you feel the service was exceptional.

Tour guide and driver: Tipping is optional but customary, and around 10% of the total cost is adequate for tour guides. For drivers, you can tip AUD $2-3 per day if they are separate from your tour guide.

Hotel: It is customary to tip around AUD $1-2 per bag for the bellman and $1 per day for the maid. Tipping other hotel staff is optional.

Spas and massage: Tipping is optional, and you can tip as much or as little as you like to show your appreciation.

Taxi drivers: Tipping is not expected, but rounding up to the nearest dollar or letting them keep the change is appreciated.

Tuk tuk or motorbike drivers: Tipping is not expected, but an extra tip is appropriate if you are impressed with your driver’s services.

Temples and religious sites: Leaving a few thousand riels in the contribution boxes is customary if someone shows you around or a monk blesses you.

What is ATM access like in Cambodia?

In Cambodia, ATMs can be found in major towns such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. However, it is important to remain vigilant when withdrawing cash and to be mindful of your surroundings. If using a foreign debit or credit card, it is best to check in advance with your bank to ensure that they are accepted. While credit cards are not widely accepted, larger cities may have hotels and businesses that are equipped to handle them. 

What should you budget per day?

Budget

For budget-conscious travellers who are happy to sacrifice a bit of luxe to save some money, the recommended budget per day is AUD $70. This budget will cover the essentials such as accommodation in a dorm room, meals from street vendors, local transport, and a few beers to unwind. It’s worth noting that a trip to Angkor Wat is an absolute must-do, and that will require an additional AUD $55 plus the cost of a bike or driver. 

Moderate

If you’re planning a trip to Cambodia and looking to stick to a moderate budget, you’ll be relieved to know that AUD $140 per day can go a long way. With this amount, you’ll be able to secure yourself a comfortable room in a budget hotel with air conditioning – essential for staying cool and comfortable in Cambodia’s hot and humid weather. You’ll also have the opportunity to indulge in some sit-down meals at nicer restaurants, try some local beers and cocktails, and take buses between cities to explore all that Cambodia has to offer. Plus, you won’t have to miss out on popular tourist attractions like Angkor Wat, visiting the Killing Fields, and taking a cooking class. 

Luxury

With a daily budget of AUD $240 or more, you can indulge in the variety of upscale accommodation options that Cambodia has to offer. From luxury hotels with world-class amenities to private villas that offer an unparalleled level of privacy, the choices are endless. Dining becomes a memorable affair as you can savour some of the finest Cambodian cuisines at top-notch restaurants. You can also indulge in exciting tours and activities such as helicopter rides, hot air balloon trips, and many more. With your own private driver, you can explore the country at your own pace, taking as many stops as you want. With this level of spending, your Cambodian dream adventure can become a reality.

Currency details

Currency:

Kampuchean (Cambodian) riel

Currency code:

KHR

Currency symbol:

CR

Central bank:

National Bank of Cambodia

Nickname:

None

Currency sub-unit:

Kak = 1/10 of a Riel | Sem = 1/100 of a Riel

Bank notes:

50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 riel

Coins:

50, 100, 200, 500 riel

Must-do's while you are in Cambodia

Angkor Wat Temple

Visit the Angkor Wat Temple

Get ready to be blown away by the magnificent Angkor Wat temple, the world’s most extensive religious monument and an iconic Cambodian attraction. Built back in the 12th century, Angkor Wat embodies the Khmer Empire’s grandeur and intricate architectural design. To make the most out of your trip, hire a seasoned guide who can take you around the temple and share insider knowledge about the site’s history, local life, and untold stories.

Phnom Penh

Explore the Cultural Hub of Phnom Penh

Dive deep into Cambodia’s culture hub, Phnom Penh, and soak up the French colonial architecture, museums, and buzzing local markets. Explore the city’s highlights like the awe-inspiring Royal Palace, the National Museum of Cambodia, the sombre Killing Fields, and the vibrant Russian Market. Hop on a tuk-tuk for an exhilarating ride through the bustling streets and indulge in local cuisine while enjoying the city’s sights and sounds.

Sihanoukville

Enjoy the Beautiful Beaches of Sihanoukville

Discover the hidden gem that is Sihanoukville, located in the south of Cambodia. Known for its pristine sandy beaches, serene islands, and laid-back atmosphere, this coastal city is the perfect place to unwind and relax. Embrace the warm sun, go snorkelling or scuba diving, or take a boat tour to explore the stunning nearby islands. From budget-friendly hostels to luxurious resorts, the city has something for every budget to extend your stay and experience it all.

Local Cuisine

Try the Local Cuisine

Feast your taste buds on the finest Cambodian cuisine, a blend of Khmer, Chinese, and French influences. Delight your appetite with famous traditional dishes like the Amok fish, Khmer noodles, meat skewers, and exotic fruits available all over the country. Go on a mouth-watering food tour to taste local cuisine, from the best street vendors to the hidden gems.

Volunteer at a Local NGO​

Volunteer at a Local NGO

Take a difference and experience the local way of life in Cambodia by volunteering at a local NGO. Play a pivotal role in Cambodia’s journey to recovery from the Khmer Rouge regime and its ongoing social and economic struggles. Share your skills by teaching English, volunteering at an orphanage, or helping in environmental conservation efforts. Helping others can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime.

Other helpful guides & resources on travel in Cambodia

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