After three aeroplane breakfasts we finally landed in Cambodia. Not our longest flight, but we changed planes twice, so through security a total of 3 times. Bangkok, Malaysia (yes we landed in Malaysia, our next destination!) and finally Phnom Penh. No problems at all.
One of the first things we do when we land is get some local currency from an ATM in the airport. I tried the first one available, just before Phnom Penh customs. US dollars only… strange. I then tried a few more after 2 full hand prints were taken by customs. All US dollars!
We asked around and every ATM in Cambodia will only give you dollars, you can only get riel by exchanging it. Not too much of a problem, we still have dollars left over from the Trans-Mongolian so got a tuk-tuk to the place we had booked – Eighty8 Backpackers.
After a little more research in the local shops and on the internet we started to understand the crazy currency system they have here:
- $1 = 4000 riel when paying for stuff (regardless of the actual exchange range)
- $1 = 4060 when exchanging dollars to riel
- No coins are used in Cambodia. They don’t use cents, instead they use smaller amounts of riel, so $0.25 change would be 1000R
We exchanged some dollars (for more riel than they’re actually worth! We profited exactly $0.75 because their rate is wrong – yay!) to use to pay for smaller items (water, food, etc.). Every shop here accepts both US dollars and riel at the same 4000 exchange rate apart from the more up market supermarkets that have a slightly worse rate in which case you’re better off using dollars. It can all get quite confusing when you’re handed a few dollars backed by a bunch of riel as change.
To see in Phnom Penh:
- The Killing Fields
- Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21)
- Wat Phnom (pictured)
- Central market
- City Mall