Cambodia Riel

Cambodia Riel

Understanding foreign currency and numbers

So wait. Is this piece of fruit 2000 Riel and 50 cents? 2000 Riel is 50 cents? Why is this so confusing? Oh wait, so 5 and 1 in Khmer is how you say 6? How do you say thousand?

Though backpacking isn’t the most difficult way of life (hints why we love doing it more than work, and in fact, you have to work for a long time to do it) there are certain aspects of the lifestyle that are difficult. One of the small roadblocks is figuring out the new currency and numbers in the local language of each country you visit.

With backpackers not being the wealthiest of folks, making sure you are getting the most bang for your buck is important to the duration of your trip. This is why Cambodia currency is a bit of a setback.

The official currency of Cambodia is the Riel, which runs about 4,000 to the dollar. Though this is the case, most prices are still set in U.S. dollar. On top of this, when you pull money from an ATM, it comes out in dollars, and Western Union encourages you not to exchange money, just to keep the dollars.

The kicker, though, is you can pay in a mix of dollar and riel, and since there is no small US change in Cambodia, if the price doesn’t land on a dollar, you get your change in riel. This is enough to make any visitor’s head spin. Regardless of the strange currency, Cambodia is a beautiful country to visit. Prices are affordable, which you definitely understand after figuring out the dollars and cents, and places to visit are in abundance.