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Travel Guide > Asia > Cambodia

Cambodia Money & Shopping

  
 
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When shopping be sure to look for businesses that display the Heritage Friendly Business Logo. Heritage Watch has launched a campaign that aims to encourage support for Cambodia's arts, culture, heritage and development.

Businesses that are giving back to the community are certified as Heritage Friendly by the independent organization and permitted to display either a gold or silver Heritage Friendly logo. Look for the logo to ensure that you are supporting socially responsible corporate citizens!

Haggling

You can get away with pretty much haggling anything in Cambodia. Restaurants, outdoor food stalls, even rates for guesthouses. It doesn't even matter if you lose your temper as myths of "saving face" doesn't really translate to money. However, there are a few guidelines:

  • Many products, especially those not aimed at tourists, are fixed price, and while it is possible to get a minor discount if you ask, you cannot get things significantly cheaper than this. Many markets have the prices of goods painted on the walls (in Cambodian).
  • Try to stick to areas that aren't flooded with tourists may not work. In Cambodia where dining out isn't really common among local people, restaurants almost cater for foreigners and tend to be a little bit more expensive than neighbouring countries. However in Siem Reap, it is, sometimes if not always, possible to haggle with street food vendors over the portion of a dish, free side dish, and get 20-30% discount.
  • US dollar is widely used in Cambodia but no circulation of coins will end up giving you a lot of Cambodian Riels when the price you pay is not an integer. This gives a chance for shortchanging, which is particularly popular in several grocery stores in Siem Reap. For example, you give $1 for buying a bottle of water which is $0.6, the staff should return the amount of riels equivalent to $0.4, but they may keep some of them. The money cheated is usually minimal. Just be smart at mental arithmetic.
  • Haggle in groups. This is the key. Having two other friends will make it much easier to convince Cambodians to give a discount. One person can play bad cop, the other good cop.
  • Ask to speak with the manager/owner (this applies to guesthouse and restaurants). Usually if you try to haggle at a restaurant or guesthouse the employee will say that the boss needs to be there. If so, then just ask to speak with him or ask the employee to speak with him. You would be surprised at how easy it is to haggle down once you speak to the boss, many times he doesn't even want to be bothered and will give the discount to you.
  • Never pay the asking price for anything near the temples of Angkor. This includes books, souvenirs, paintings, water, and food. During the offseason, the foodstalls near the temples will have a separate menu, ask for it. You can even bargain on top of that too! Note that it's much harder to bargain at the foodstalls at Agnkor Wat and especially at the breakfast restaurants across the street from Angkor Wat.
  • Try not to haggle too harshly with the moto drivers and tuk tuks that work near where you stay. Most are honest, but they will look after your safety more if you are seen as a good customer. Some will decide they will get the money from you another way, and could take you to be mugged.

Siem Reap is the easiest place to bargain, Phnom Penh may be a little harder but still worth a shot (worked at a guesthouse in Phnom Penh). Just remember to be persistent.

Cash

The Cambodian riel is the official currency, but US dollars are universally accepted in Cambodia. While there are sufficient ATMs in the major tourist areas of Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh which dispense US$ it may be wise to bring your own supply of US$1, $5, $10 and $20 bills to avoid problems changing larger denominations of $50 or $100 notes. US dollar coins buy nothing but confused looks.

The exchange rate is generally around 4000 riel to the US$, and it's not uncommon to receive change in a mix of the two. Near the Thai border (especially Battambang, Koh Kong, and Poipet) Thai baht is also accepted; further east (including Siem Reap) baht can easily be exchanged, but cannot be spent - except at uncompetitive rates. Likewise Euro can easily be exchanged, but cannot be spent - except at uncompetitive rates. Banks give the best rates, avoid money changers at markets or on the street.

Torn foreign currency notes can be difficult to exchange. It's acceptable to check each note and ask to have them changed if you aren't happy with the quality, even in banks.

If you're planning on heading out off the beaten track, you need to take enough US dollars to get you back to a point where you can get more.

In many of the larger towns one or more of the local banks operate as Western Union Money Transfer agents.

Cards

ATMs can be found in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Sihanoukville and Kampot; both debit card withdrawls (Maestro, Cirrus, Plus, VISA) and cash advances on credit cards are possible. For the rest of the country it's best to stick to cash or traveller's checks (in US$).

VISA and JCB are the most widely accepted credit cards; MasterCard and American Express cards are slowly becoming more widely accepted.

Note that ATMs will dispense US$ in varying denominations. If you receive bills in poor condition(especially $50 or $100) from an ATM attached directly to a bank try to change it there immediately as it may be difficult to change later.

Please note that ATMs throughout most of Asia only accept a 4-digit PIN. If your PIN is more than 4 digits, best to take care of that at home before you need cash and find yourself out of luck.

Traveller's cheques

Traveller's cheques, like credit cards, are accepted in major business establishments, such as large hotels, some restaurants, travel agencies and some souvenir shops; American Express (in US$) are the most widely accepted flavour. However, competitive rates are only usually found in banks in Cambodia's larger cities (guesthouses in heavily touristed areas may offer similar services but at horrendous rates). The usual fee for cashing traveler's cheques is 2% and US$2 minimum.

Shops & Stores in Cambodia

Market Central Market
(in Cambodian called Psar Thmei - "New Market") is a 1930s Art Deco covered market near the Riverfront (Sisowath Quay) district. The market is well set out, and sells everything from flowers to video games. As of August 2009, two arms of the building ... more
in Phnom Penh
Shopping Mall Sorya
Mall, currently Phnom Penh's main Western-style mall, is nearby - less colorful than the traditional markets, but it is air-conditioned and contains a range of cheap fast-food outlets as well as a well-stocked supermarket named Lucky Supermarket. If looking ... more
in Phnom Penh
 
Shopping Mall City Mall
was opened in September 2009, making it the newest and biggest western-style mall in Phnom Penh. It can be found on Monireth Boulevard near the Olympic Stadium. The mall contains a large branch of Lucky Supermarket, as well as many fast-food outlets and modern s... more
in Phnom Penh
Market Russian Market
(Cambodian "Psar Toul Tom Poung" - it gained the "Russian Market" moniker following the Vietnamese occupation of the city in the 1980s, but many motodops are not familiar with the name) offers the opportunity to buy real designer clothes at a... more
in Phnom Penh
 
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Hidden Treasures
9 Street 148, has antiques, art and curios from Cambodia's past and nearby South-East Asian cultures.
in Phnom Penh
Bookstore Monument Books
Has the most extensive collection of new books in Phnom Penh, including fiction and non-fiction, children's books, non-English-language works (in French and Khmer, for instance), magazines and newspapers. There is a particularly good collection of books from... more
in Phnom Penh
 
Bookstore Bohr's Books
A small store offering a large, diverse collection of books - perhaps Phnom Penh's best. A second store now operates in Street 172, 400m from Wat Unalom
in Phnom Penh
Bookstore Boston Book Company
A secondhand bookstore that, as of October 2009, had just opened. Has a good collection of fiction and non-fiction works, including texts for teachers and students. Situated in an attractive building, it will eventually have a cafe.Directionsjust around the corn... more
in Phnom Penh
 
Bookstore D's Books
A cheerful chain of secondhand bookstores dealing mainly in mass market paperbacks.
in Phnom Penh
Bookstore International Book Center
A large bookshop concentrating mainly on textbooks and other educational works. Has a small classic literature collection. Also sells stationery, electronic devices, sporting goods and souvenirs.
in Phnom Penh
 
These are just 10 of 27 Shops & Stores in Cambodia. Show more.


Cambodia Money & Shopping Reviews

Sophon
Posted on
27-10-2011
by Sophon
Samato Blue lotus in Battambang is a unique place with wonderfull services.
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