What Currency To Use In Cambodia: Money Guide (2024)

If you’re planning a trip to Cambodia, you’re probably wondering about what currency to use in Cambodia.

I was very confused about Cambodia money situation, to the point that I feared I’d get to the country and not be able to buy anything because I’d have the wrong currency or they wouldn’t accept my bills.

It turns out that it is not nearly as complicated as I made it out to be!

Cambodia uses US dollars and riels interchangeably, and you’ll be fine with either as long as you follow some simple rules. 

Let’s jump right into everything you need to know about money in Cambodia!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. I hope you find the information here helpful!

What Is The Currency Of Cambodia?

The official currency in Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel. 

$1 USD = 4000-4300 Cambodian Riel

As you can see, the exchange rate is not exactly fixed, and vendors will quote you anything from 4000 to 4300 riel for one US dollar.

You can’t really do anything about the exchange rate, and sometimes you’ll pay a bit more than other times depending on which currency you pay in.

1€ = 4400 Cambodian Riel

1£ = 5000 Cambodian Riel

The exchange rate of other currencies is for your personal information, as you can not pay in these currencies. If you want to use your currency in Cambodia, you must first exchange it to US dollars or riel.

Travel tips for exploring Cambodia

🏨 Where to stay?

Find great hotel options on Booking

🏝️What to do?

Book activities and tours on GetYourGuide

📲 How to stay connected?

Use Airalo to get an eSim

Can You Use US Dollars In Cambodia?

Yes, you can use US dollars in Cambodia to pay for nearly everything as it is the unofficial second currency.

Most tourist places even quote prices in US dollars, which includes restaurants, tours, and long-distance buses. If you’re following the typical Cambodia itinerary, you’ll stay within the tourist zone.

Even if the price is only quoted in Cambodian riel, you can ask for the price in US dollars and pay with dollars.

However, if you visit Phnom Penh and use a public bus, you’ll have to pay in Riel as they don’t give back change.

Rules For Using US Dollars in Cambodia 

While you can use US dollars in Cambodia, the vendors will not accept every dollar bill. 

In fact, you might even have issues paying with US dollar bills that you could easily use in your country. 

If you want to make sure your dollar bills are usable in Cambodia, keep these things in mind:

1. Your Bills Have To Be In Good Condition

Cambodians are very strict about what US dollar bills they accept. Your dollar bills don’t have to be fresh from the printing machine, but they have to be in good condition.

Bills can’t have any marks (writing), tears, or chips. If your bill is torn and then taped, it won’t be accepted.

Also, bills that have strong creases aren’t accepted either. Ideally, you’d want to keep your bills in a wallet without folding them.

Every time I paid with dollars, the vendor would hold up the bill and evaluate its condition.

2. Old US Dollar Bills Are Not Accepted 

Cambodians also don’t accept old US dollar bills. 

You can recognize the old dollar bills as they will have a smaller portrait in a circle, unlike the new bills, which feature a portrait without a frame.

The only exception is 1 dollar bill that didn’t change and still features a portrait in the frame!

3. 2 Dollar Bills Are Not Accepted In Cambodia

You can’t even use all US dollar bills as 2 dollar bills are generally not accepted in Cambodia. 

They are not very common, and most businesses aren’t familiar with them and will refuse to take them.

Funnily enough, many Khmer Chinese consider 2 dollar bills to be lucky and keep it in their wallet for luck.

4. You Can’t Pay With US Coins 

While you can use US dollar bills in Cambodia, you can’t use US coins. 

Even if the price is $2,5 USD, you’ll have to pay with paper bills and the 50 cents change will be given in riel.

a flatlay photo of an open laptop, cup of matcha and two notebooks stacked on each other

Why Doesn’t Cambodia Accept Damaged US Dollar Bills?

If you’re wondering why are vendors refusing to accept your dollar bills when you could easily use them in your own country, the answer is simple. 

Cambodian banks don’t accept damaged dollar bills, so that makes them useless to the locals who can’t use them.

Cambodia doesn’t issue dollar bills like the USA, as it is not their currency. As they don’t produce new dollar bills, you can’t simply exchange your damaged bills for a new one.

What To Do If You Get Damaged Bills?

Don’t despair if you somehow end up with a damaged bill.

Damaged dollar bills are only unusable in Cambodia. You can easily exchange them in other countries or use them in your own country if you’re from the USA.

When I was backpacking Singapore I looked for dollar bills for my Cambodian visa, and some bills they offered in exchange offices were simply atrocious.

If you really need the cash while you’re in Cambodia, some banks will exchange damaged bills for about 80% of the face value.

As you’ll lose quite a bit of money, I wouldn’t recommend this unless absolutely necessary. 

Why Does Cambodia Use US Dollars?

Cambodia uses US dollars primarily due to the country’s past financial instability and economic struggles.

After years of war, civil conflict, and a lack of trust in the national currency, Cambodians began using US dollars as a more stable and widely accepted form of payment. 

I’ve heard that even today, Cambodians don’t like to keep their saving in the official currency and will exchange any significant amount for US dollars.

ATM Scams in Cambodia

Before coming to Cambodia, I heard that it is possible to get fake US dollar bills from Cambodian ATMs. 

I know getting fake bills is highly unlikely, but traveling Cambodia solo I didn’t want to risk it, so l only withdrew Cambodian Riel.

You’ll notice that some ATMs give US dollars, others riels, and some both. In the cities, there will usually be at least 2 ATMs next to each other, so you can get the currency you want.

How To Spot Fake US Dollar Bills?

Fake US dollar bills are often burned during traditional ceremonies, so there are quite a few in the country. 

If your country doesn’t use US dollars, you might not know how to spot fake bills. 

If getting fake bills is not on your Cambodia bucket list either, the first thing to look for is if there is the word COPY on your bill. It is usually a dead giveaway that it is a fake bill. Also, the material is different, as they are made of regular paper.

There are several other ways to detect counterfeit US dollar bills you might want to familiarize yourself with before traveling to Cambodia.

So, What Currency Is Best To Use In Cambodia?

Now that you know that there are two currencies in use in Cambodia, you’re probably wondering what is the best currency to use in Cambodia.

The answer is it depends. 

I used both Cambodian riel and US dollars in Cambodia. I even sometimes paid the same bill with both currencies – half in dollars, half in riel.

Cambodians don’t make a big deal about which currency you use to pay. However, in some remote villages and local markets, it might be easier to pay in riel.

I suggest you pay in US dollars for more expensive things, like tours and long-distance bus tickets. Use your riel for public transport in Cambodia and street food.

One thing you MUST pay in dollars is your visa on arrival. It is only possible to pay for it in cash, pristine US dollar bills, so add dollar bills to your Cambodia packing list if you plan on getting a visa on arrival.

Also, remember your dollar bills need to be in pristine condition. If you don’t want to worry whether your bill will be accepted every time you need to pay for something, use riel.

Even if prices are just in dollars or just in riel don’t be afraid to ask how much it is in the other currency. Every vendor has a calculator with them for that exact reason!

One thing to note is that you’ll get riel back regardless of which currency you paid in. That way, you’ll have some riel in your wallet even if you didn’t specifically exchange it.  

Paying with a credit card is not readily available, but you can use your card to pay inside Cambodian taxi-hailing apps like Grab or PassApp.

Is Cambodia Expensive?

If you’re backpacking Cambodia and you’re curious how this dual currency affects prices in Cambodia, they are slightly higher than in neighboring countries.

If you traveled to Laos or Vietnam before coming to Cambodia, you might find Cambodia more expensive. 

However, Cambodia is still a cheap country to visit! Your daily budget for Cambodia can be anywhere from $15-100 USD per day.

Hostels in Cambodia are extremely affordable, starting at under $5 USD per night, while well-rated hotels start at $20 USD.

An average dish in a restaurant will cost you $5-8 USD, while most street food costs about $2 USD.

Tourist attractions are more expensive than average prices in the country, with Angkor Wat tickets starting at $40 USD and other day trips $30-50 USD.

Final Thoughts: Cambodia Money Guide

If you’re planning a trip to Cambodia, you don’t have to worry about the currency. 

While the double currency situation might seem complicated, in reality, it is making daily transactions even easier. 

As long as your dollar bills are in pristine condition, with no tears, marks, or creases, you can pay for nearly everything in US dollars.

If you don’t want to worry about the state of your bills, simply withdraw riel from ATMs.

More businesses are starting to take credit and debit cards, but they might charge a higher price for card payments, so don’t count on that.

Now that you understand what currency is used in Cambodia, do you need more reasons to visit Cambodia

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2 Comments

  1. “You can recognize the old dollar bills as they will have a smaller portrait in a circle, unlike the new bills, which feature a portrait without a frame.”
    I believe you’re right, except for the $1 bill. I just got a batch of fresh, brand new $1 bills, and George Washington’s portrait is inside a circular frame. Admittedly, I got these bills from a Thai money exchange, but they’re absolutely crisp, new bills. What do you think?

    1. Hi John! Thank you for this comment! You’re completely right, 1 dollar bills didn’t change with the redesign. I’ll note it in the article.

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