As most of you already know, Cambodia has a dual currency; Their own Cambodia Riel and the second, widely accepted, US dollar.
During your adventures throughout Cambodia you may come across restaurants, shops, hotels and even markets apologising and not accepting your US dollar note. Now yes, that note is still legal tender outside of Cambodia, no problem. However here there are a few reasons as to why accepting these notes can cause a little frustration.
US dollar notes are always inspected carefully by cashiers and any ripped, torn, faded or stained notes may well be rejected (However Cambodia is not as critical as Myanmar (Burma) where only pristine notes are accepted). A fold, for example, is not a problem in Cambodia, but fading along the fold is. Cashiers can be more critical if the note is of a larger denomination.
Old notes can sometimes cause some problems as well, the most common of these will be any US Dollar noted printed before 1995.
So why are these notes not accepted?
Well in Cambodia they are not counted as legal tender, it’s as simple as that. Any torn or faded notes will cost that business a bank transferal fee when deposited. For example, an exchange on a torn ten dollar note is three dollars leaving the owner of that note out of pocket. For notes printed before 1995, it is completely unrecognised in Cambodia and cannot be exchanged or used within the Kingdom.
It’s up to all of us, tourists and business owners alike to always check the money we are given. If you have a banknote you are stuck with, you can try bargaining at the money exchangers at local markets, they are sometimes willing to take the risk of taking over a torn note for a fee as we mentioned before, however this fee increases with the value of and the damage to the note.
During your amazing adventures in the incredible Kingdom always remember that if you get stuck with a note that no one will take from you, it is not the end of the world. You will still be able to use and exchange it outside of Cambodia extremely easily.