Cash in Luang Prabang and Siem Reap

Sep 1st, 2007, 04:23 PM
  #1  
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Cash in Luang Prabang and Siem Reap

Could someone explain the money situation in Cambodia and Laos? We were told that there are few if any ATM machines and that we should use American dollars. Does anyone have suggestions about denomination and amount? We will be in each place four days.

Thank you.
jlzcohen is offline  
Sep 1st, 2007, 06:55 PM
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There are now ATMs in Siem Reap that dispense US dollars. You do need small denominations. If you are from the US, bring a whole bunch of (new) US$1 bills for small purchases plus some larger bills to pay driver/guides. Typically, hotels take credit cards. The local currency is riel, but everyone prefers US$. You'll be given small change in riel. Spend it or give it away, as it is worthless outside Cambodia.

There are no cash machines in Laos. Take US dollars to exchange. When I was there, there were no banks in LP. but I've heard that there is now a bank. In any case, there are places to exchange money. The kip is the local currency, and is the preferred currency in LP. I kow that some recent travelers have been able to spend US dollar is some places in LP. You don't want to exchange more that US$20 at a time, because US$20 will buy you a block of kip the size of a brick. It was all my waist pack would hold. You'll use kip for tuk tuks and small purchases. Hotels take credit cards. Again, spend or give away your kip before leaving Laos as it is worthless outside of Laos.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2007, 02:39 AM
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Kathie,

Do you happen to know how that work? Do they access your account in the States and withdraw USD or do they convert it into Riel then convert it back into USD? If you don't have a USD account can you withdraw USD?

Sorry for the question but I'm most curious.
Hanuman is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2007, 10:38 AM
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Hanuman, I don't know the answer to your question. I was last in SR before the ATM appeared. I have some friends who were there within the last year, and they were able to get US dollars. They do have a US bank account, but I've heard from others (UK, Aus, Europe) who also were able to get money from the ATM in Siem Reap. I'm guessing there is some sort of foreign exchange that occurs, so the banks can make some money ;-)

I do know that people with non-US dollar accounts still received US dollars from the ATM.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2007, 04:53 PM
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Thank you for the information Kathie.
Hanuman is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 07:50 PM
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Hello

I dont know about Laos I have never been there. But right now I live in Cambodia and I have just come from Siem Reap.

There are several ATM's in SR, I have always gone to ANZ bank atm's and they work fine. You will need your bank card/credit card, it is the same as any other atm. Follow the directions because it will ask for the language. The cash is dispensed in American dollars.

If you need to exchange into riels which you probably will just go to a foreign exchange store and ask to exchange to riels, for example $20 american dollars right now is about 81000 riels.

They always accessed my american bank account charge me $2 atm fee and gave me a reciept showing the deductions.
joe88888 is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 05:38 AM
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Joe, let me ask the question that Hanuman asked earlier. Was the money changed to riels then to dollars on your bank statement? That is, did you have two foreign exchanges?
Kathie is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 07:21 PM
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I looked at my bank statement and it only shows it in US dollars. The atm gives out American dollars, then I my self went to a foreign exchange store and exchanged the dollars to riels.

So no there is not two foreign exchanges, really there is none. I just choose to exchange the american dollars, at a store.
joe88888 is offline  
Sep 5th, 2007, 09:08 PM
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Thanks for asking Kathie and thank you Joe for the information. That's quite a loophole in their foreign exchange control!
Hanuman is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 05:26 AM
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Thanks, Joe, that is prety interesting. It is a loophole in the foreign exchange.

WHat I don't understand, Joe, is why you would exchange dollars for riel, since Cambodians prefer the hard currency.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 6th, 2007, 11:04 PM
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Well Im living here in Cambodia, and it is easier for me to spend if I use riel. Yes the cambodian's like the $, but I am learning there language, and have gotten better at ordering food, etc, and it has just become customary for me to spend in riel.

But you are correct the bigger purchases are with $.
joe88888 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2007, 04:52 AM
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There is one ATM in Luang Prabang (added this year). I'm told it takes foreign cards now, but I didn't know that when I visited last month and had brought enough cash that I exchanged. If you do run out of money in Luang Prabang, there are quite a few merchants that will run your card and give you cash for that amount (plus a pretty hefty "fee"...which actually isn't much more than the fee they charge for just using your card anyway). If you're only there for four days, you should probably be OK with just carrying the amount of cash you'd want to spend in with you.

Like Joe said, Siem Reap has many ATMs. The ANZ ones charge a $2 fee for each transaction. As things add up pretty quickly in Siem Reap ($40 three-day pass to the temples, guides, all-day drivers, etc.), you'll probably use them there. When I needed smaller denominations on my visit there last week, I just went into a convenience store and bought a bottle of water (which I needed anyway) to get change...

As for the riel vs. the dollar...I found that in Siem Reap and Phonm Penh, people didn't really seem to care either way what I paid with. They could tell me the price in one currency and take the other no problem...

Jayna
travels at www.ususbaby.com
Jayna is offline  
Sep 7th, 2007, 05:33 AM
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Joe, yes, I can imagine that if you are living there, it makes sense to use riel, thanks for the answer.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 7th, 2007, 05:51 AM
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And Jayna, thanks for the new info on LP. Sigh, I'm sorry to see the boutiques invade LP.
Kathie is offline  
Sep 11th, 2007, 02:38 AM
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No worries, Kathie! And maybe it's better I didn't see Luang Prabang a few years ago...it may have made me sad that it was "losing" something?

However, while in Siem Reap (and before I got there), I learned that there are many outside investors building "luxury" hotels on the way to Angkor Wat...apparently they've all sprouted up in the past year and are catering to the Japanese and Chinese tourists...

Jayna
travels at www.ususbaby.com
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