Although Cambodia's official currency is the Riel, the US Dollar is used in most transactions, so we recommend taking a supply of US Dollars in cash, including some small denomination notes.
Armed with enough cash, you will not need to visit a bank at all because it is possible to change small amounts of dollars for riel at hotels, restaurants and markets.
Get US Dollars from your home country
While it is obviously easy for U.S. citizens to get US Dollars, you should compare and shop around if you are buying US Dollars from the U.K., Australia or Canada as the exchange rates on offer vary considerably.
One of the most convenient ways to get a decent exchange rate is to order your currency in advance, and then collect it from the provider's outlet, or arrange delivery.
You can check the best rates available, and suitable providers, on price comparison websites such as moneysavingexpert.com or travelsupermarket.com.
As a rule, avoid exchanging money at the airport unless you have pre-ordered to secure a favorable rate.
The Post Office's pre-ordering service is usually competitive and convenient for collection. It is worth requesting some small denomination notes when you order.
Your US Dollars will be rejected if they are ripped, torn, or otherwise overly abused. Old-style US bills are also not welcome, so make sure that the cash you bring is fairly new. It is also worth scrutinizing the change you are given to make sure you do not receive bad bills.
If for any reasons, you could not bring any US Dollars for your trip to Cambodia, do not worry, there are still solutions.
Exchange other foreign currencies
Cash in other major currencies such as Pounds, Australian dollars and Canadian dollars can be changed at banks or markets in major cities. However, most banks tend to offer a poor rate for any non-dollar transaction so it can be better to use moneychangers, which are found in and around every major market.
As it is often the case, larger bills are exchanged at slightly higher rates than smaller bills.
Also note that most banks are closed on weekends and holidays, as well as being closed for a week every April during the Khmer New year.
We do not recommend you exchange money on the streets or through tuk-tuk drivers. This is a great way to get scammed, particularly in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.
As a last resort, Western Union and MoneyGram are both represented in Cambodia for fast, if more expensive, money transfers. Western Union is represented by Acleda Bank, and MoneyGram by Canadia Bank.
When you leave the country, do not forget to exchange your remaining riel before you take off since you will struggle to get rid of them outside Cambodia.