The Cambodian riel is the national currency of Cambodia and is used exclusively in this country as a means of payment. The Riel – also known as Khmer Riel in the local language – is officially abbreviated to KHR in accordance with ISO 4217, but the unofficial abbreviation CR is also used.
History of the Cambodian riel
The riel has been the official currency in Cambodia since 1956 and can therefore look back on over half a century of existence. Only in the years 1975 to 1980 was the Riel discontinued during the reign of terror of the “Khmer Rouge”. The reintroduction of the currency was associated with a massive loss of confidence, which continues to this day.
But since trust in a currency is the basis for economic development and progress, Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world today. A characteristic feature is always high inflation, which in June 2013 was 1.45 percent within one month alone. The value of a riel, which is only a fraction of a euro cent, is correspondingly low.
For one euro, the traveler received 5,361 Riels in July 2013 with an almost daily increase.
Citizens of countries with a poorly functioning currency system often use a foreign reserve currency. This is also the case in Cambodia: the US dollar is popular in this country and is the only secure means of payment. At the moment, it is still relatively inflation-proof and can be used reliably across the country and is becoming increasingly popular.
Despite the advantages of the dollar also in terms of willingness to invest by foreign industrial companies, work is currently being carried out on a certain “de-dollarization”. Accordingly, the Cambodian riel should receive a steady boost and the dollar should be pushed back.
The current government’s argument against the dollar is the link between it and terrorism, money laundering and drug trafficking.
A traveler should therefore urgently inform himself about the current political dealings with the US dollar before entering Cambodia.
There could be the possibility of severe restrictions on payment or, in extreme cases, a complete ban on the import of dollar bills.
Exchange into Cambodian riel
As in most currency-weak countries in the world, exchanging within the country is cheaper in Cambodia than abroad, because the timely exchange also protects against currency risks such as the aforementioned inflation. Those who stay up to date on the currency of their travel destination in this way also protect themselves with their knowledge from dubious money changers on site.