Cambodia is one of the cheapest countries in the world to travel, and so the pound stretches a great deal further than it would at home!
The currency here is the Cambodian Riel,however the US Dollar is more widely used across the country, and you get a flat conversion of 4000 Riel to the dollar.
Strangely,there are no coins in circulation in Cambodia,so any change less than a dollar comes back to you in Riel. As the primary currency in use here is the dollar,they are very particular about the condition of the notes that you pay with. Torn and dog eared notes will not be exchanged by the banks here, as obviously it isn’t a currency that they can ‘make more of’ to replace aging currencies. Should you visit Cambodia, this is definitely a nugget of information notes you should remember, we currently have a twenty dollar bill that no one will accept because of a tiny tear in the top corner.
Another top tip regarding currency,look out for two dollar bills! If,like me, you have never seen a two dollar bill you would be easily mistaken into thinking that it was a fake, however these are actually genuine US notes! For some reason people in the States believed that they are scarce,and so many people hold onto them thinking that they are going to increase in value….they won’t, and it seems that Cambodians aren’t keen on them either,banks will only give a value of $1.50 in return for a $2 bill here. So when you’re getting change,it’s quite acceptable and common practice to check the notes that you are given,and ask for any old or two dollar notes to be exchanged.
As far as getting your money, Canadia Bank offers free cash withdrawals from their cash machines, which is absolutely fantastic considering that at one cash machine (before I was more up to speed) I got charged $8 for a cash withdrawal!!! EIGHT DOLLARS!!!!!
When you do take cash out, also worth noting that if you withdraw $100 dollars they will give you a $100 dollar bill, which is a right nuisance! Take advantage of the free cash machine and take out $90 at a time instead. (Also worth noting that I have a N&P building society account which doesn’t charge anything for overseas transactions).
I think that’s it for money…..now onto
The food in Cambodia is delicious. As you might expect, most, if not all, of the traditional dishes are rice or noodle based, with most dishes having the option of being made with vegetables, seafood, chicken, beef or pork.
Something that surprised me, especially given the cuisine of the neighbouring countries, is that the food in Cambodia is not necessarily as spicy as you would expect. Instead dishes are delicately balanced, and quite often served with chilli’s that you can add according to your own taste. A condiment that you often find on the table is a jar of garlic cloves that are coated in chili-absolutely immense!!
The traditional dishes are:
Bai sach chrouk: Pork & rice
Fish Amok: Fish with fresh coconut milk
Khmer red curry
Lap Khmer: Lime marinated Khmer beef salad
Nom banh chok: Khmer noodles
Kdam chaa: Fried crab
Ang dtray-meuk: Grilled Squid
Fried fish on the fire lake: deep fried fish finished on a hotplate in a coconut curry… Made on special occasions and parties.
Regionally there are two famous Cambodian delicacies, Kampot Pepper and Kep Crab-further details about them can be found in my post from Kampot & Kep.
As a tourist you often fall into the trap of eating at restaurants, made even more accessible given the favourable prices-it’s rare that you see any Khmer dish on a Cambodian menu that’s more than $8. However you will often find that the best food is found in the street stalls and local eateries. You do have to reassess your expectations on food hygiene-but it’s well worth it! Often you will pay little more than $1.50 for something that tastes as good, if not better, than what you get in the restaurants.
To wash it all down with you have a choice of the local beers Angkor, Anchor & Cambodia, as well as a gorgeous selection of fresh fruit juices, milkshakes and smoothies. Beer is often the cheapest option, with draught lager regularly being priced at $0.50!