Although Cambodiaʼs official currency is the riel, the US dollar is also used as a means of payment in the country. However, the Cambodia visa can easily be paid for in pounds. In this article you will find useful information on the different methods of payment, money exchange and tipping in Cambodia to help you prepare for your trip.
Cambodian Riel (KHR)
The currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian riel. At the time of writing, £1 equals about 5,700 riel. There are notes of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 200,000. Coins are no longer in circulation and the two highest denomination banknotes are hardly used either. However, the US dollar is the most widely used currency in Cambodia, especially in the big cities. It is advised not taking too many dollars with you, considering the exchange rate (1 dollar equals about 4,000 riel) and the fact that most of the payments you will make will be relatively small. In some places in the western part of Cambodia, the Thai bat is also accepted.
Cost of Cambodia visa
To travel to Cambodia, you will first need a visa. Those wishing to stay in the country for less than 30 days can apply for an e-visa Cambodia, which eliminates the need to visit the embassy in London. Once granted, the Cambodia visa is valid for 90 days.
On this website, you can apply for a Cambodia visa for £59.95 per person by using the online application form. The cost of the Cambodia visa can be paid safely and without transaction costs in pounds via PayPal or credit card. Exchange rate differences will therefore not affect the price.
Exchanging pounds for riel
Travellers are better off not exchanging pounds for riel before departure. It is better to withdraw money directly from an ATM or go to the Cambodian exchange offices. If you need to change money before your departure, it is best to do so by exchanging pounds for US dollars, as this is an accepted currency in most of Cambodia.
Exchanging money in Cambodia is best done at a bank or official exchange office located in major cities such as Nom Pen, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Battambang or Kompong Cham. If you travel to more rural areas and pay with US dollars, the change will be in riel, as the locals in those areas do not use this foreign currency. Before returning home, it is wise to spend all your riel, as this is a currency that has no value outside Cambodia.
Withdrawing money in Cambodia
Cash machines can be found in most major cities and tourist areas in Cambodia. With a foreign bank card, you can only withdraw US dollars from Cambodian cash machines. The usual fee for these transactions is about 4 dollars.
Many banks block the use of payment cards outside Europe for security reasons. Therefore, it can be necessary to activate the use of your card in Cambodia before departure and to inquire about the commissions for currency exchange. This way you can decide whether it is more profitable to pay with a payment card or to withdraw cash at a cash machine.
Payment methods in Cambodia
It is strongly recommended that you carry a reasonable amount of cash with you for everyday transactions, such as paying for a tuk-tuk or shopping. This is the most common method of payment in Cambodia. Be careful with cash, however, as in many places notes are not accepted if they are damaged or partially torn. Also be careful with dollars, as there are many counterfeit dollars circulating in the country.
Although credit cards are not accepted everywhere and cash is the main method of payment, it is always useful to have one on you. Most hotels, shops and upscale restaurants in Cambodia do accept credit cards (Visa, Mastercard or even American Express). However, they often charge a direct commission, which increases the final price of the bill by 2-3%. Still, it is a useful payment method to pay for accommodation and to avoid having to carry large sums of cash around for these kinds of expenses.
Although it is not customary to tip in Cambodia, it is a gesture highly appreciated by locals given the poverty in the country and the fact that people in the service sector do not earn much. If you want to tip, you can leave 5% to 10% of the total amount in restaurants, or give a few loose notes to hotel staff when they carry your luggage or provide attentive room service. Haggling, on the other hand, is very common in Cambodia and it is advisable to do so, both at the market and when taking a taxi.