On the whole Cambodia is an inexpensive place, although it is a bit more expensive than neighbouring countries like Vietnam and Thailand. Of course you can reduce your costs by bargaining, although you shouldn’t overdo this as in Cambodia foreigners are quoted higher prices, but not nearly as much as in e.g. Vietnam.
Cambodia’s official currency is the riel, but you’ll see many people using the US Dollar to pay for everyday expenses. Don’t be fooled into changing dollars into riel at the land border crossings! The touts will tell you that the dollar is now not used anymore, so you have to change into riel at their ridicolous low exchange rate.
DO NOT BELIEVE any story like that.
Cambodia’s official currency is the riel, which is named after the fish used to make prahok, a fermented fish paste.
The riel comes in denominations of 100, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10.000, 50.000 and 100.000 (although the latter two are very rare).
Coins are not used in Cambodia. The riel fluctuates around 4000 riel to a dollar.
Read more about the Cambodian riel.
Riels are mainly used in markets and to buy small items, like a bottle of water or to pay for small services like a moto or tuktuk ride
Keep in mind though that moto and tuk tuk drivers always claim they have no change (well, at least for foreigners…), so be sure you have the exact amount ready!
US Dollars are widely accepted in Cambodia and actually serve as a second currency. US dollars are used for larger bills.
Don’t expect small shop vendors to have change of anything more than a $5 note, and do expect small change in riel.
Check your US dollars carefully as notes with a small tear are not accepted, especially the larger denominations of 5 dollars and more.
You don’t need to change dollars into riel when entering the country as you will inevitably pay a lot of things in dollars and receive change in riel, which you can use for smaller purchases.
Money changers are concentrated at the markets and change all well known currencies into US dollars. They usually offer a better rate than the banks.
Traveler’s Cheques are well accepted in Cambodia and can be cashed at money changers and most banks.
Shop around for the best rates and insist that you get small to medium denominations.
Credit cards are still not widely accepted in Cambodia, but are gaining in acceptance, mostly at more expensive venues.
Available in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville and now also in smaller towns like Battambang and Kampot. With a very few exceptions, they dispense US Dollars, not riel. Those that do dispense both will give you the option of what you want.
ACLEDA Bank has the most extensive network with ATM’s across the country, but ANZ’s ATM’s you will see the most in the capital and tourist places (see ATM’s in Cambodia).
Money transfers via Western Union are not cheap, so this should be a last resort, but this service is available in all major towns and cities.