Back to News

All about the Cambodian Currency (KHR)


Cambodian Riel

Cambodia is a lesser-known Southeast Asian nation flanked by Thailand in the east and Vietnam in the west. With lush greenery, undisturbed forest, variety of flora and fauna, the country is increasingly becoming a popular tourist site.

As such, the Cambodian currency is gradually put under the spotlight!

What is Cambodian currency called?

The Cambodian currency is known as the Riel.

It is said to be derived from the name of a fish frequenting the Mekong River. The Riel has denominations of 1/10 known as kak and 1/100 called sen, which is no longer in use today.

Understanding Cambodian Riel (KHR)

Cambodian riel and USD

One USD stands at the value of 4,060+- Riel today.

It is denoted by the sign "r." Riel notes come in 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5000, 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000 denominations, but the distinctive red 500 Riel note is the most commonly used.

The Riel is denoted in English as the KHR (Khmer Rouge) and is the only currency used in rural areas. In urban areas, the Dollar is also a popular means of transaction. The use of the US dollar is so wide that visit visa fees, as a rule, are valued in Dollars.

What does history say about this currency?

Cambodian Riel timeline

The Riel was first introduced in 1953. It was on par with the Piastre (currency of French Indo-China), which was equivalent to 8 Pesos. It was in use until 1975.
From 1975-1980, the Khmer Rouge, a communist faction, took over the country and enforced a currency-less system. Despite the Khmer Rouge printing another form of currency during their regime, they were never circulated.
The Riel was reintroduced in 1978 during the Vietnamese invasion at the value of 4 Riel being equivalent to 1 US Dollar.
Due to the low rate of the Riel against the Dollar, many transactions in cities are done in Dollars. Dollarization began in the 1980s with the United Nation’s starting of humanitarian aid. And then refugees began remitting money to Cambodia.
It continued until the 1990s amidst a high inflation rate reaching 177%. It greatly undermined the confidence in the strength of the Riel.
The use of the Dollar is projected to change in a few years as a de-dollarization campaign is underway. The campaign is more a moralistic one with an emphasis on history and national pride rather than an administrative one.

* The banks where the transactions are made are independently responsible for reporting any discrepancies regarding transactions.


Vietnamese Dong and Thai Baht

In the border regions, Vietnamese Dong and Thai Baht are also in use.

Read more: A glance into the types of real estate in Cambodia

Currently, only Dollar notes are in use. If the change is tantamount to USD coin values, then it is returned in Riels.

Marred riel is acceptable, but the tiniest tear in a large US note, especially a $20, $50, or $100 note, renders it all but useless in Cambodia.

Want to know more about Cambodia? We can give you property market insights and even the best areas to invest for maximum property returns!

Drop us your details below and our agents will assist you in all things real estate.

Send us an enquiry