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Using the US Dollar in Cambodia

22 Aug 2017

Guest post by Cases Packed

You might think that the USA is the only place where you can spend your US Dollars. That's actually not the case! There are a many countries around the world where the dollar is used, and we recently had the chance to visit one of them - Cambodia.

Cambodia has a sad history - the Khmer Rouge destroyed many lives and the country has been rebuilding itself from the terrible tragedy since the 1970's. It's on the up and up and quickly becoming a popular destination for travellers. There's so much on offer - from tasty street food in Phnom Penh, to the circus in Battambang, all the way through to the majestic temples and ruins of Angkor Wat. You can't miss out on this beautiful country.

But what about the currency? We have to admit, it's a strange mix. They use US Dollars, but also add in their own currency, the Riel. There are no coins, and the Riel is, if you will, the alternative to quarters, nickels and dimes. You can also choose to pay in either currency. Confused yet?

Cambodia has its own quirks about the dollar, so we're going to share a few tips with you to make sure you don't end up in a pickle.
  • If you're bringing your dollars with you, make sure the notes are nice and crisp. If they're ripped or the corner is missing, or just simply old, you may have a hard time spending them. Having said this, we did receive the odd beat up $10 as change and managed to get rid of it, we just had to use it at a chain or a bigger establishment.
  • Taking money out of ATMs in Cambodia is easy, but if taking out large amounts at one time expect to receive a $100 bill in the mix. Breaking one of these can sometimes be tough if you're only shopping at small, locally owned places. We managed to split one of ours whilst out drinking on Pub Street in Siem Reap - so we got change and a tasty cocktail too!
  • There are no coins in Cambodian currency, so your change arrives in the form of Riel. These local notes are worth 4000 to $1 and can quickly build up in your wallet. You can of course pay in Riel anywhere, and some restaurants will give you the price in both currencies, so you can handily choose which one to pay with.
  • Check your change when paying with USD and receiving Riel in return - it's an easy way for the shop keeper to keep a little extra money, so a quick count before you leave ensures you've got the correct change.
  • If you do end up with a beat up bill which is of a high value, your only choice may be to change it with local money changers. They'll swap your bust up $100 but you will probably be offered less money for it. It's a viable option if you've no other choice?
So there are our top tips for spending money in Cambodia. It's an amazing country, with friendly people everywhere you turn. There's a wealth of tasty food to try, and plenty to keep you entertained. Just remember to keep some nice, new dollars with you when you go!

For more great hints and tips, visit the Cases Packed blog.
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