What and Who Are on Cambodia's Banknotes?

Cambodias riel notes depict some iconic figures
Cambodia's riel notes depict some iconic figures | © Marissa Carruthers

Cambodia doesn’t deal in coins, with all currency coming in notes that range from 50 to 100,000 riel. Each note depicts different historical and cultural scenes, as well as iconic people. Here is a guide to what and who features on the country’s currency.

50 riel

It’s rare to come across a 50 riel note but when you do, the front features the 10th century Banteay Srei, the less-trodden temple that sits about 25km from Angkor Wat. On the reverse sits a roaring dam.

100 riel

A new orange 100 riel banknote was introduced in 2015 and depicts a naga–a serpent deity in Buddhist and Hindu mythology that features heavily throughout Angkor and other temples and structures–Buddha and the late King Father Sihanouk Norodom as a young monk. On the reverse, is the iconic Silver Pagoda that sits on Phnom Penh’s riverside and forms part of the Royal Palace.

The 100 riel note

500 riel

The latest 500 riel notes, which were released in 2014, feature a naga, the Cambodian arms and the portrait of King Norodom Sihamoni. On the reverse is a sketch of Nak Loeung and Kizuna bridges that cross the Mekong River.

1,000 riel

Released in 2017, the most recent 1,000 riel note depicts a naga head and a picture of the revered late King Father Norodom Sihanouk. On the reverse sits a picture of the Royal Palace throne room and a kinnari, a mythological creature that is half-human and half-bird.

2,000 riel

This green-yellow note has a picture of World Heritage site 11th century Preah Vihear temple, which was at the centre of a violent dispute over ownership between Cambodia and Thailand until recently. The other side shows the centre of national pride, Angkor Wat, and Cambodians carrying out work in the fields to highlight the importance of agriculture across the country.

5,000 riel

The latest 5,000 riel note entered circulation in 2017 and shows a naga head and King Father Sihanouk wearing a beret. The main picture on the other side is of Kampong Kdei bridge in Siem Reap province.

A naga in action

10,000 riel

King Father Sihanouk makes another appearance on the latest note, which was released in 2015. On the reverse is the ruins of a temple on Preah Khan Baray at Angkor Archaeological Park.

20,000 riel

Equalling $5 US dollars, this note features the current King Sihamoni on the front and Angkor Wat, and the four faces of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, which embodies the compassion of all Buddhas on the other side.

Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni features on several banknotes

50,000 riel

Another rare note on the streets is 50,000 riel, with the latest version released in 2014. Proving his popularity with the nation, King Father Sihanouk features again on the front, with korker ruins and a sculpture of a baby elephant on the back.

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