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Cambodian riel

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Cambodian riel
រៀលកម្ពុជា or រៀលខ្មែរ (Khmer)
ISO 4217
CodeKHR (numeric: 116)
110kak (កាក់ kăk) (no longer used)
1100sen (សេន sén) (no longer used)
 Freq. used100៛, 200៛, 500៛, 1,000៛, 2,000៛, 5,000៛, 10,000៛, 20,000៛, 50,000៛
 Rarely used50៛ (no longer printed but still legal tender); 15,000៛ (commemorative); 30,000៛ (commemorative); 100,000៛
 Rarely used50៛, 100៛, 200៛, 500៛
ReplacedFrench Indochinese piastre
User(s) Cambodia
Central bankNational Bank of Cambodia
 SourceThe World Factbook, 2015 est.
Pegged withU.S. dollar at 1 USD ≈ 4,100 KHR
Cambodian riel
Khmer name
UNGEGN: Riĕl Kâmpŭchéa
ALA-LC: Rial Kambujā
IPA: [riəl kampuciə]
UNGEGN: Riĕl Khmêr
ALA-LC: Rial Khmaer
IPA: [riəl kʰmae]

The riel (/riˈɛl/; Khmer: រៀល, romanizedriĕl [riəl]; sign: ៛; code: KHR) is the currency of Cambodia. There have been two distinct riel, the first issued between 1953 and May 1975. Between 1975 and 1980, the country had no monetary system. A second currency, also named "riel", has been issued since 20 March 1980. Since the late 1990s, the riel has had an unofficial fixed exchange rate of 4,100:1 with United States dollar, Cambodia's second de facto currency for commercial transactions.[1]

Popular belief suggests that the name of the currency comes from the Mekong river fish riĕl ("small fish" in Khmer). It is more likely that it derives from the high-silver content Spanish-American dollar, whose value is eight reales, a coin widely used for international trade in Asia and the Americas from the 16th to 19th centuries.[2]

Concurrent use with foreign currencies[edit]

In rural areas the riel is used for virtually all purchases, large and small.[citation needed] However, the United States dollar is also used, particularly in urban Cambodia and tourist areas.[citation needed] In areas near the Thai border, the Thai baht is also accepted.[citation needed]

Dollarization started in the 1980s and continued to the early 90s when the United Nations contributed humanitarian aid,[3] refugees began sending remittances home, and inflation as high as 177% per year eroded confidence in the riel.[citation needed] From 1991–1993, the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia stationed 22,000 personnel throughout Cambodia, whose spending represented a large part of the Cambodian economy.[citation needed]

While the riel remains in common use in the provinces, the major cities and tourist areas heavily use the U.S. dollar. The latter is dispensed in ATMs, accepted in virtually all purchases, and USD quotations are required to price hotel rooms, airline tickets and significant financial transactions. Everyone knows the exchange rate of 4,000 KHR/US$ for retail trade, with riel paid out for change in fractions of a dollar.[1]

In June 2020, the National Bank of Cambodia announced the phaseout from wide circulation of small U.S. dollar banknotes of $1, $2 and $5.[4] This is aimed at reducing the cost of keeping the smaller US notes in circulation, as well as increasing the use of the riel in lieu of these notes.[4] No fees were to be charged to collect these small notes before 31 August 2020, but after that date banks were expected to incur costs of transporting these notes.[4]

Current KHR exchange rates


Cambodian tical[edit]

Prior to the year 1875, the tical was the currency of Cambodia as well as Siam and Laos. However, as a result of French intervention in the region, the tical in Cambodia was replaced in 1875 by the Cambodian franc.

Cambodian franc[edit]

The franc was the currency of Cambodia between 1875 and 1885. It was equal to the French franc and was similarly subdivided into 100 centimes. It replaced the tical and was replaced by the piastre.

French Indochinese piastre[edit]

The piastre was introduced in French Indochina in 1885 at par with the Spanish-American silver dollar, and was in use until 1952.

First riel (1953–1975)[edit]

In 1953, the Cambodia branch of the Institut d'Émission des États du Cambodge, du Laos et du Viet-nam issued notes dual denominated in piastre and riel with the riel being at par with the piastre.[5] At the same time, the two other branches of the Institut had similar arrangements with the đồng in South Vietnam and the kip in Laos. The piastre itself was derived from Spanish pieces of eight (pesos).

The riel was at first subdivided into 100 centimes (abbreviated to cent. on the coins) but this changed in 1959 to 100 sen (សេន). For the first few years, the riel and piastre circulated alongside each other. The first riel banknotes were also denominated in piastres.

  • First issue, 1955–56: 1 riel, 5 riels, 10 riels, 50 riels.
  • Second issue, 1956: 1 riel, 20 riels, 50 riels, 100 riels, 500 riels.
  • Third issue, 1956: 100 riels, 500 riels.
  • Fourth issue, 1963: 5 riels, 10 riels, 100 riels.
  • Fifth issue, 1972: 100 riels*, 500 riels, 1,000 riels*, 5,000 riels*.[6] (* Unissued.)

Coins: The 10, 20 and 50 centimes of 1953 and sen coins were minted in aluminum and were the same size as the corresponding att and xu (su) coins of Laos and South Vietnam (though without the holes in the Lao coins). A 1 riel coin about the size of a U.S. nickel was to be issued in 1970, as part of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization's coin program, but was not released, perhaps due to the overthrow of the government of Norodom Sihanouk by Lon Nol.[7]

Khmer Rouge (1975–1980, 1993–1999)[edit]

Although the Khmer Rouge printed banknotes, they were not issued as money was abolished after the Khmer Rouge took control of the country.

  • Sixth issue, 1975: 0.1 riel (1 kak), 0.5 riels (5 kaks), 1 riel, 5 riels, 10 riels, 50 riels, 100 riels.[6]

In 1993, they printed a series of coloured banknotes for limited use on territories controlled by them.

  • Regional issue, 1993: 5 riels, 10 riels, 20 riels, 50 riels, 100 riels

Second riel (1980–present)[edit]

After the Vietnamese attacked Khmer Rouge in 1978, the riel was re-established as Cambodia's national currency on 20 March 1980, initially at a value of 4 riels = 1 U.S. dollar. It is subdivided into 10 kaks or 100 sens. Because there was no money for it to replace and a severely disrupted economy, the central government gave away the new money to the populace in order to encourage its use. Near the same time, the United Nations gave humanitarian aid to Cambodia in U.S. dollars, and placed people in Cambodia to get it started, and the populace prefer the more stable U.S. dollar. As the supply of riels grew rapidly during the early 1990s, the riel devalued from 4 riels to 1 dollar in 1980 to a rate of around 4000 KHR/USD in the 2000s and around 4100 KHR/USD in the 2020s, where it has remained stable ever since.

  • Seventh issue, 1979: 0.1 riel (1 kak), 0.2 riels (2 kaks), 0.5 riels (5 kaks), 1 riel, 5 riels, 10 riels, 20 riels, 50 riels.
  • Eighth issue, 1987: 5 riels, 10 riels.
  • Ninth issue, 1990–92: 50 riels, 100 riels, 500 riels.
  • Tenth issue, 1992–93: 200 riels, 1,000 riels*, 2,000 riels*. (* Unissued.)
  • Eleventh issue, 1995: 1,000 riels, 2,000 riels, 5,000 riels, 10,000 riels, 20,000 riels, 50,000 riels, 100,000 riels.
  • Twelfth issue, 1995–99: 100 riels, 200 riels, 500 riels, 1,000 riels.
  • Thirteenth issue, 2001–07: 50 riels, 100 riels, 500 riels, 1,000 riels, 2,000 riels, 5,000 riels, 10,000 riels, 50,000 riels.
  • Fourteenth issue; 2008–15: 100 riels, 500 riels, 1,000 riels, 2,000 riels, 5,000 riels, 10,000 riels, 20,000 riels, 50,000 riels, 100,000 riels.
  • Fiftheeth issue; 2016–19: 1,000 riels, 15,000 riels, 20,000 riels.
  • Sixteenth issue; 2021: 30,000 riels.
  • Seventeenth issue; 2022: 200, 2,000 riels.


  • 100 riels (2001-08-09 and 2015-01-14)
  • 200 riels (1995 and 2022-11-14)
  • 500 riels (2002-04-04 and 2014-01-14)
  • 1,000 riels (2006-01-06 and 2017-10-25)
  • 2,000 riels (2008-01-03, 2013-11-09 and 2022-11-14)
  • 5,000 riels (2001-04-06 and 2017-10-25)
  • 10,000 riels (2001-04-06 and 2015-05-07)
  • 15,000 riels (2019)
  • 20,000 riels (2008-05-12 and 2018)
  • 30,000 riels (2021-10-18)
  • 50,000 riels (2001-04-06 and 2014-05-06)
  • 100,000 riels (1995 and 2013-05-14)[6]
Image Value Dimensions Main Colour Description Date of
Obverse Reverse Obverse Reverse printing issue withdrawal lapse
50 riels 130 × 60 mm Dark brown and tan Banteay Srei Dam 2002 29 August 2002 current
100 riels 130 × 60 mm Purple, brown and green Independence Monument School 2001 9 August 2001 current
100 riels 138 × 64 mm Orange and brown Naga (mythical snake) head, Buddha, King Father Norodom Sihanouk as a young monk Khmer statue, Wat Preah Keo (Silver pagoda), Buddha 2014 14 January 2015 current
200 riels 138 × 64 mm Gray, green and orange Royal arms of Cambodia, Naga (mythical snake) head, King Norodom Sihamoni as a young man Preah Thineang Chan Chhaya (Moonlight Pavilion) of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Paul Ducuing’s statue of King Sisowath at the National Museum of Cambodia 2022 14 November 2022 current
500 riels 138 × 64 mm Red and purple Angkor Wat Kizuna bridge over the Mekong 2002
4 April 2003 current
500 riels 138 × 64 mm Red, pink and gray Naga (mythical snake) head, arms, king Norodom Sihamoni Neak Loeung Bridge, Kizuna bridge over the Mekong River, monument, frieze 2014 14 January 2014 current
1,000 riels 138 × 64 mm Brown and lilac Southern gate at Bayon Autonomous Port of Kampong Saom (Sihanoukville) 2005
6 January 2006 current
1,000 riels 148 × 68 mm Lilac and dark-blue Naga (mythical snake) head, Royal Arms of Cambodia, King Norodom Sihanouk (1922–2012) Royal Palace throne room, swan-shaped float carrying Sihanouk's body 2012 30 January 2013
1,000 riels 146 × 68 mm Purple and blue Naga (mythical snake) head, arms, King Norodom Sihanouk Royal palace throne room, Kinnari (half-human, half-bird) 2016 25 October 2017 current
2,000 riels 146 × 68 mm Green, black and yellow Prasat Preah Vihear Angkor Wat and rice field Worker 2007
3 January 2008 current
2,000 riels 146 × 68 mm Green Naga (mythical snake) head, Royal Arms of Cambodia, King Norodom Sihanouk (1922–2012) King Norodom Sihanouk alongside two soldiers crossing a river (December 1953); Independence Monument (Phnom Penh) 2013 8 November 2013
2,000 riels 146 × 68 mm Green, orange, black, brown, and yellow Royal arms of Cambodia, naga (mythical snake) head, King Norodom Sihamoni Ancient stone artifact; Prasat Tao (King Lion Temple) at Sambo Prei Kuk Kampong Tom Province; chinthe (King Lion) 2022 14 November 2022 current
5,000 riels 146 × 68 mm Green and gray King Norodom Sihanouk (1922–2012) Bridge of Kampong Kdei (Siem Reap Province) 2001
6 April 2001 current
5,000 riels 146 × 68 mm Violet and brown Naga (mythical snake) head, vessel, King Norodom Sihanouk wearing beret Naga (mythical snake) head, Kampong Kdei bridge (Siemreap Province), freezes, chariot 2015 25 October 2017 current
10,000 riels 146 × 68 mm Violet, brown and blue King Norodom Sihanouk (1922–2012) Sisowath Quay 2001
6 April 2001 current
10,000 riels 155 × 72 mm Blue Naga (mythical snake); King Norodom Sihamoni Neak Pean (entwined serpents) archeological ruins of Buddhist temple on circular island in Preah Khan Baray, Angkor; stone statue of horse, Balaha 2015 15 May 2015 current
15,000 riels 170 x 75 mm Purple King Norodom Sihamoni, seven-headed naga Coronation of Norodom Sihamoni, Win-Win Memorial, three-headed elephant carrying a garuda bearing a swan 2019 7 October 2019[8] current
20,000 riels 155 × 72 mm Violet and purple King Norodom Sihamoni Angkor Wat, Four faces of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara 2008 5 December 2008 current
20,000 riels 155 x 72 mm Light and dark pink and gray Naga (mythical snake), king Norodom Sihamoni Banteay Srei Temple in Siem Reap province 2017 current
30,000 riels 170 x 75 mm Green, brown and purple Naga (mythical snake), king Norodom Sihanouk King Norodom Sihanouk and Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Royal Palace, Eiffel Tower and Independence Monument 2021 18 October 2021[9] current
50,000 riels 150 × 70 mm Violet, brown and blue Norodom Sihanouk Angkor Wat, three-headed elephant 2001 6 April 2001 current
50,000 riels 155 × 72 mm Brown Naga (mythical snake), King Norodom Sihanouk Bakong Temple and sculpture of elephant at Koh Ker temple 2013 6 May 2014 current
100,000 riels 170 × 77 mm Green Royal Arms of Cambodia, King Father Norodom Sihanouk, Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, Naga (mythical snake) head King Father Norodom Sihanouk, Queen Mother Norodom Monineath and King Norodom Sihamoni, stone sculpture 2012 14 May 2013
These images are to scale at 0.7 pixel per millimetre. For table standards, see the banknote specification table.


The first coins were 5 sen pieces, minted in 1979 and made of aluminum. No more coins were minted until 1994, when denominations of 50, 100, 200 and 500 riels were introduced. However, these are rarely found in circulation.[10]

Coins of the Cambodian riel
Image Value Diameter Mass Composition Edge Obverse Reverse Year of
Obverse Reverse first minting withdrawal
50 riels 15.9 mm 1.6 g Steel Plain/Smooth Denomination, year of minting in Buddhist and Gregorian calendar Independence Monument in Phnom Penh 1994
100 riels 17.9 mm 2 g Steel Plain/Smooth Denomination, year of minting in Buddhist and Gregorian calendar Angkor Wat 1994
200 riels 20 mm 2.4 g Steel Plain/Smooth Denomination, year of minting in Buddhist and Gregorian calendar 2 Ceremonial bowls (one above the other) Above this is symbol Om (in Khmer language) from which rays of light emitting 1994
500 riels 25.8 mm 6.5 g Bi-Metallic; steel in center, brass in ring Segmented (Plain and Reeded edges) Denomination, year of minting in Buddhist and Gregorian calendar Royal arms of Cambodia (Lesser version) 1994

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Cambodia's riel survives alongside the dollar – BBC News". BBC News. 30 March 2011.
  2. ^ Filippi, Jean-Michel. "The strange adventure of the Cambodian currency". Phenom Penh Post. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  3. ^ de Zamaroczy, Mario (2003). "Economic Policy in a Highly Dollarized Economy". IMF (219): 3.
  4. ^ a b c "Central Bank Moves to Remove Small U.S. Dollar Bills out of Circulation".
  5. ^ "A Brief History of Cambodian Currency". Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Cambodian Currency Collection Cambodian Currency Collection Archived 2009-07-20 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Cambodian FAO 1 riel coin on catalog". Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  8. ^ "New note to mark King's coronation". The Phnom Penh Post. 8 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Cambodia to release new 30,000 Riel bill into circulation". Khmer Times. 18 October 2021.
  10. ^ De Launey, Guy (30 March 2011). "Cambodia's riel survives alongside the dollar". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 18 March 2013.

External links[edit]

First riel
Preceded by:
French Indochinese piastre
Location: French Indochina
Reason: independence
Ratio: at par
Note: piastre not used in self-declared North Vietnam since 1946
Currency of Cambodia
1953 – 1970
Note: transitional notes dual denominated in piastre and riel were used until 1955
Currency of Khmer Republic
1970 – 1975
Succeeded by:
Location: Kampuchea
Reason: The Khmer Rouge attempted to implement the Marxist vision of a money-less society
Note: The Khmer Rouge did print a series of riel. Some sources say they were never issued. Some say they were issued one month before they were abolished.
Second riel
Preceded by:
Vietnamese đồng
Reason: reintroduction of a national currency
Ratio: 1 riel = 3 đồng = 0.25 U.S. dollar = 1 kg rice
Currency of Cambodia
1980 –
Succeeded by: