The what’s what guide to finances in Cambodia
Cambodia can be a complicated county regarding money, and you need to know how to operate in the Cambodian kingdom, which can be complicated at first. Having lived in Cambodia, I will show you how to live financially daily and price comparisons in this beautiful country.
You must remember that cash is king and still the best viable option for consistent, helpful results. Although throughout the city of Phnom Penh, you find ATM’s (Still nowhere near as many as in western cities), I advise cash if you head out of the capital and go to smaller towns or rural.
More financial tips below
What Things Cost In Cambodia
Travelling anywhere is essential to determine what things cost so you don’t get ripped off and budget better. At the minute, everything is getting more expensive (Like the rest of the world), but Cambodia still offers excellent value for money if you know the general expense.
The USD still rules the roost in Cambodia, with Riel being used more for change in the market. It’s advised to carry US dollars as a backup for emergencies if you have issues with your card. The current rate is 1$ = 4100 Riel which is pretty steady at the moment.
Hostel Dorm Bed
If you’re a backpacker in Cambodia, you must visit Angkor Wat, its beautiful culture and slow pace of life. It’s my number one country to visit.
For a decent clean dorm, you’re looking at between $6-$10– That’s a little more expensive than average, but do you want to stay in a dump? You want to stay in a clean, secure, and friendly place where you won’t have issues or stress.
Cambodia has decent transportation, with plenty of buses zipping around the country for a great price.
Average price $9
Tuk Tuk from the Airport
It’s perfectly normal to ride a Tuk Tuk from the airport to Phnom Penh city centre. It’s also a lot cheaper than a private taxi. Always negotiate a price, though, before leaving!
Average price $9
Tuk Tuk around Phnom Penh
Same again, work out the price with the Tuk Tuk driver before jumping in and risking being ripped off. The average price is $3 for a short journey and more for a longer one.
I recommend using the Pass Grab for safer travel for Tuk Tuk’s and taxi’s
Entrance Fee For Angkor Wat
Most travellers who visit Cambodia will visit Angkor Wat, which is simply stunning. The site is a UNESCO world heritage site and pulls in a lot of tourism.
The average ticket price is around $37 for a one-day pass
The Killing Fields
Cambodia has an extremely dark past, with the Khmer Rouge killing at least 1.7 million people in the 1970’s. I’ll be honest Cambodia gave me so much reflection on life and how lucky not to go through such intense trauma.
Having learnt about this genocide, I realise how important it is to learn about the history of Cambodia, which is genuinely a deep dive.
Average price $6
Boat From Sihanoukville To Koh Rong
Cambodia has beautiful tropical islands to rest and unwind, like Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem. This could be heaven on earth with plenty of beach huts and beautiful beaches.
The islands are reached by boat, which costs $22
30 Day Visa
The most popular visa for Cambodia is the 30-day visa you collect on arrival in Cambodia. You have to pay a $7 administrative fee for the e-visa.
Price of the visa $30
Eating Out In Touristic Areas
If you decide to eat in tourist areas, don’t be surprised to burn cash quicker than in a local café, bar etc… But if you want more variety or plant-based food, this will cover all options.
Average meal $8
Eating Out In Local Areas
Cambodians adore meat, so veggies beware if you’re after veggie street food dishes that are nutritious.
The basic set-up is plastic chairs on the side of the road with noodles, veg and meat. I love street food and will always look for a vendor that’s popular with guests.
Average meal $2
You must get a motorbike in Cambodia as it’s the most incredible way to explore the countryside.
A word of warning, though, the roads can be hit and miss, so get a helmet and insurance for emergencies. The government hospitals are poor in Cambodia, so ask to visit a private hospital in Phnom Penh if you need to.
The average price for a motorbike rental is $13
The national currency is Riel, with everything priced in the retail store in that currency. The country installed the currency in 1953, but when the Khmer rouge came in, they stopped all money in the country. The Khmer rouge interestingly printed their cash until the liberation from Vietnam.
USD In Cambodia
One difference in economics in Cambodia is that the country has a dual monetary system, with USD and Riel being used in partnership. In 2020, $1,$2 and $5 have been made redundant, sadly creating masses of Riel in an annoying change.
Cambodian Money – Do a table
Riel Banknote denominations: 50, 100, 500,1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000.
Riel Coins: 50, 100, 200, 500.
In the capital, there are ATM’s located all over Phnom Penh, but you will be charged $3-$4 per withdrawal. Not all ATM’s accept foreign cards. Make sure you find an ATM that saves you money and where you feel safe.
For whatever reason, don’t try to withdraw foreign currency such as Sterling or Euro’s but try to use Riel and USD. Using any other currency will be expensive in Cambodia.
Credit Cards in Cambodia
If you are a frequent traveller, getting a traveller’s credit card that gives exceptional rates and sometimes a zero charge makes sense. Check out this credit card comparison website for information.
The best option is cash because it is flexible with little fuss or security procedures. The main risk is carrying large amounts of money because if you lose it, its gone forever. I always recommend sorting your money out at foreign exchange as soon as you land. Look for an official exchange like Airports or shopping malls. Be aware of being scammed on the street with fraudulent notes.
If you’ve come from smaller countries economies, sort your money before travelling to Cambodia/Asia. Another issue beware you are not double charged by changing your money into another currency, then into the cash you want.
Always re-count your back by hand next to the staff member of the currency exchange. This is just a basic 101 in handling money from any bank.
Try to exchange larger bills which earn better rates, with a few smaller ones. I always stash around $300-$400 in my bag.
Traveller’s cheques are a pretty solid way to secure money and can be replaced, unlike cash. You can be charged for using traveller’s cheques, but you are mostly safe. It would help if you used traveller’s cheques as a solid backup, I think they’re the best option in emergencies. Don’t forget a lot of cheques are only accepted in US dollars.