The introduction of the current currency in Cambodia only came into place in 1980. From 1975 to 1980, the country had no official monetary system. Under the Pol Pot regime, the Khmer Rouge abolished money and destroyed the National Bank building in Phnom Penh. Because of this, most Cambodians prefer to use foreign currency.
Cambodia is still a cash-dominated society. Credit cards are accepted in more urban and tourist areas; however, if venturing out further than the capital, it is best to have some local and foreign currency to hand.
Money in Cambodia
The currency in Cambodia is the riel, abbreviated as KHR or just an ‘r’ after the sum, divided into a hundred sen.
Notes: 100 KHR, 200 KHR, 500 KHR, 1000 KHR, 2,000 KHR, 5,000 KHR, 10,000 KHR, 20,000 KHR, 50,000 KHR and 100,000 KHR
The US dollar is also widely used and accepted throughout the country. Most prices will be listed in US dollars, but expats should note that change may be given in riel. Also used – though mostly in the west – is the Thai baht.
Credit cards are widely accepted in tourist areas, but it is best to have some riel on hand for taxis, snacks and other inexpensive items.
Banking in Cambodia
There are many banks located throughout Cambodia, especially in the capital. ATMs, which are widely available, dispense both US dollars and riels. The Cambodian currency is non-convertible outside of the country, so in the case that expats leave Cambodia, they should make sure that they exchange or spend any remaining riels within the country before leaving.
Popular banks include Acleda Bank, Canadia Bank and J Trust Royal Bank (formerly known as ANZ Royal Bank).
Opening a bank account
Most banks are open from Monday through Friday, from 8am to 3pm or 4pm. Some banks are open on Saturday mornings.
Expats should note that many Cambodian banks do not give loans to foreigners. However, they may offer credit cards.
Taxes in Cambodia
If a person is considered a resident in Cambodia, they are eligible to pay tax. A resident is classified as a person who has lived in Cambodia for at least 182 days during a 12-month period. Resident expats will be subjected to income tax, which is calculated in relation to how much they earn.
Expats should be aware that, depending on their country of origin, they may be liable to pay tax back home, too. We recommend consulting an expat tax specialist on these matters to stay on the right side of the law.