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The official currency of Cambodia is the riel (KHR). The unofficial currency is the United States dollar (USD).
You can pay for goods and services in Cambodia using KHR, USD or a combination of the two. Like most countries in the region, cash speaks loudest.
A dual-currency system gives you more travel money options than other countries in Southeast Asia. The best travel money strategy for Cambodia will give you a convenient way to get cash at a good price. Here we look at the different travel money options for Cambodia and the best ways to spend and save.
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Visa, Mastercard and American Express credit cards are accepted in a few places in Cambodia such as large restaurants and hotels. You usually need identification to use a credit card in Cambodia, so make sure to have your passport or licence handy.
Consider some of the following factors when deciding whether you should use a credit card in Cambodia:
Generally speaking, yes, debit cards are another way you can take your cash overseas. Not all British debit cards are suitable for overseas use though, so you’ll want to compare your options to find one that offers you the most convenience on your holiday.
Load your holiday savings onto a prepaid travel card and spend in multiple currencies with a prepaid travel card. These cards have many benefits, but there are also some limitations you’ll need to keep an eye out for. Consider the following:
For a small fee, you can cash traveller’s cheques at Cambodian banks and exchange offices. This can be a cheap way to get US dollars. A 2% charge for cashing traveller’s cheques can be cheaper than the flat fee for using an ATM.
One pound is equivalent to roughly 5,500 Cambodian riels.
|Cheap guesthouse room|
£3 – £7
|Aircon hotel room|
£10 – £35
|Boutique hotel or resort|
£35 – £350
|Local meals and street eats|
£1 – £3
|Decent local restaurant meal|
£4 – £8
|Gastronomic meal with drinks|
£18 – £35
£2 – £3 per 100km
|Local tour guide per day|
|4×4 rental per day|
£45 – £90
*Prices are approximate and are subject to change.
Use a combination of travel money options for your trip to Cambodia. Credit cards make the perfect travel companion. You can make interest-free purchases and there are a number of conveniences, such as emergency card replacement, access to emergency cash and complimentary insurance, to protect you, your family and the things you buy.
You can take a travel card preloaded with US dollars and withdraw USD from an ATM in Cambodia. USD can be used almost everywhere. Travel card ATM fees can be lower than debit card ATM withdrawal fees, Cambodia is one country where a travel card can work in your favour.
The other choice is to use a debit card to get cash. There are a few travel-friendly debit accounts for you to compare. Some debit cards waive international transaction fees such as ATM fees and currency conversion fees. Transaction accounts are free to open and won’t cost you anything unless you use the card. Read on to compare your different travel money options and to determine which one is best for your trip.
|Travel money option||Pros||Considerations|
|Debit cards for travel|
|Prepaid travel money cards|
|Credit cards for travel|
This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.Back to top
David and his friends spent 3 weeks in Southeast Asia. One week in Cambodia and a week in Thailand and Vietnam. He visited Angkor Wat and Bayon Temple in Siem Reap and then headed to Sihanoukville on the coast. This is what he told us about using travel money in Cambodia.
David says he mainly used cash in Cambodia. For the times he did use his card, besides ATMs, David says he was able to make over-the-counter purchases at convenience stores, supermarkets, restaurants (big and surprising some small ones too), department stores and clothing stores.
What about ATM withdrawals?
He withdrew funds from his travel card at Canadia Bank ATMs, which he read online were free, but when he checked his statement, he saw that he was charged a $4 fee by the ATM operator. He paid a small amount ($2-$3) to his bank as well. He didn't have a problem using ATMs and was able to withdraw about $200 each transaction, which he needed to do twice in the week he was there (even cheap beers can add up).
What is your travel money recommendation?
David says he would have applied for a debit card with no currency conversion fee instead of taking a travel card.
Do you have any travel money tips?
David says that it's always a good idea to tell your bank about your travel plans. One of his friends got blocked from his credit card after he made a purchase in Southeast Asia.
* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.
USD and KHR are both used in Cambodia. Buying an item worth $2.50 and paying with a US$5.00 note gives you US$2.00 in change and the rest in Cambodian riels. There are different exchange rates between riels and dollars used in Cambodia, too. US$1.00 works out to be roughly 4,000 – 4,100 Cambodian riels.
If an item costs $1.00, you can pay US$1 or 4,100 riels.
If an item costs 5,000 riels, you can pay US$1 and 1,000 riels.
The value of a US dollar changes between 4,000 and 4,100 riels depending on how you pay. Use riels to make smaller purchases to get the best price.
The riel has been issued twice in Cambodia’s history. During the Pol Pot period, the country did not have a currency.
ATMs are widespread throughout Cambodia. You shouldn’t have any issues finding an ATM in the large cities that accept Mastercard and Visa credit, debit and travel cards. Note there are some Visa-only ATMs. Be sure to look for the Visa and Mastercard logos displayed on the front of the ATM if you’re unsure which cards the ATM takes.
The standard charge is approximately $5 per withdrawal. ANZ Royal charges the most and Bank of Canadia ATMs are the cheapest. All ATMs dispense US dollars, while some dispense riels.
ATMs will dispense large denominations, which can be hard to change. Request an ATM withdrawal that includes multiples of $20. For example, instead of withdrawing $300, you can ask for $280. This way you get some smaller notes as well as larger notes.
Each of the travel money options discussed has its own benefits and drawbacks, so using a combination of options can help balance it out. For example, you could use your prepaid travel money card and debit card for everyday purchases and cash withdrawals and save your credit card for large or emergency purchases. Not only can you avoid some fees, but having more than one travel money option means you have a backup in case one card is lost, stolen or damaged.
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