The currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel, but the majority of transactions take place in US dollars.
The Riel is only used as small change, an approximate rate of 4000 Riels to $1 US. There’s a formal exchange rate, but most are willing to barter for dollar amounts. Make sure you carry dollars rather than Riel if you’re looking to do any kind of significant shopping, as overall, you’re more likely to find better deals using dollars.
There are ATMs available in most major towns, such as Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap, as well as the occasional cashpoint in other towns. Access to ATMs outside of this is limited. Make sure you carry cash if you’re travelling further into the countryside, but for security it’s better not to carry large quantities if you don’t need to.
You should be aware that not all ATMs and banks accept foreign debit and credit cards. You should check with your bank before travelling, to see if they’re served in Cambodia. You should also note that some banks will charge for foreign currency withdrawals. If you’re withdrawing US dollars, this often isn’t too much of an issue, but when taking out Riel make sure you check with your bank first. Cash withdrawals in Riel can also be flagged by your bank’s fraud department, so it may be advisable to tell your bank that you intend to travel to Cambodia before you attempt to withdraw money.
Credit cards aren’t widely accepted across Cambodia, and chip and pin transactions aren’t common. Cash is the most accepted form of payment. Some hotels and businesses in larger cities will accept cards, but when in doubt, double check before you go.
It’s always best to get the majority of your foreign currency changed before you go on holiday, to avoid fluctuating exchange rates.
Of course, there are always travellers cheques. Fewer businesses accept them as direct payment today, but they’re still a great way to pick up a bargain exchange rate, and then change back to cash when you need it. You can exchange your travellers cheques at some banks and bureaux de change, but not all of the locations in Cambodia will accept them.
We generally recommend you get your currency changed before you head on holiday, but you can change cash in Cambodia if you forget. Keep in mind, it may not be possible to exchange Northern Irish and Scottish banknotes in Cambodia.