Money Matters: Understand the Currencies in Asia

Unlike Europe, Asia doesn’t have a common currency which you could use in various countries. Thus, it is important to understand the currencies of the countries you want to visit in Asia. As of this writing, I’ve already been to Cambodia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Each of these countries has their own local currency. If you want to learn more, then read on!

Cambodia

The local currency in Cambodia is riel (KHR) but US dollar is widely used as well because of its history of being colonized by Americans. This is amazing because you don’t have to exchange your money if you are using USD. I’m from the Philippines and I always exchange my Philippine peso into US dollar whenever I travel. Then, I exchange my US dollars to the local currency of the country I’m visiting. It is easy to exchange money in Cambodia because there are enough foreign exchange stores around.

If you will be travelling the Indochina route (Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam), I suggest you put Cambodia in the middle of your trip. And oh, don’t exchange all your money into the countries’ local currencies at once before you leave your home country. Only exchange when you are already in the country. By doing so, you could avoid having more or less money than you actually need. In Cambodia, you could freely use USD. If you become short of cash, just withdraw money from the ATMs. They dispense US dollars!

USD 1 = PHP 51.87

PHP 1 = KHR 78.35

USD 1 = KHR 4,064

Indonesia

The official currency in Indonesia is Indonesian rupee (IDR). Knowing that Indonesia doesn’t have enough public transport, I decided to exchange my money at the airport. I stayed in Kuta and there are a lot of foreign exchange stores. However, most of those stores require a minimum amount for exchange. This means you can’t just exchange your USD 1 or USD 5. Although the exchange rate of PHP 1 is IDR 274.20, the lowest coin in Indonesia is IDR 500. Just like Vietnam, money here has large denominations.

PHP 1 = IDR 274.20

USD 1 = IDR 14,222

Taiwan

The official currency in Taiwan is the New Taiwan Dollar (NTD). Most blogs would warn you not to exchange money at the airport due to poor rates. However, this is not the case in Taiwan. Almost all of the bloggers reassured me that the foreign exchange stores at the airport offer competitive rates. Thus, I exchanged mine at Taoyuan International Airport.

PHP 1 = NTD 0.61

USD 1 = NTD 31.37

Thailand

The official currency in Thailand is baht (THB). There are a lot of foreign exchange stores in this country especially in Bangkok. When I travelled to Indochina, I budgeted and allotted specific amount of US dollars in each country. My money was enough for the whole duration of my trip in Bangkok.

During my last day, I decided to spend more and deduct from my budget in my next country. However, I had trouble exchanging money because I wanted to breakdown my USD 100 into lower bills and only exchange USD 10. Every store told me that it is illegal to breakdown USD into smaller bills. Crazy, right? So I ended up not replenishing my budget and just squeezed my THB 45 cash on hand before heading to Cambodia.

PHP 1 = THB 0.60

USD 1 = THB 31.24

Vietnam

The official currency in Vietnam is Vietnamese dong (VND). Based from experience, there are only few foreign exchange stores in Ho Chi Minh City. When I visited, it took me a while to find a bank to exchange my money. Although the exchange rate of PHP 1 is VND 447.90, the lowest bill in Vietnam is VND 500. It is also important to note that even if money in Vietnam is in large denominations, the cheapest product you could buy amounts to VND 5,000. As much as possible, I buy the cheapest stuff and the cheapest I found was a small piece of bread amounting to VND 5,000 from a convenience store.

PHP 1 = VND 447.90

USD 1 = VND 23,233

Philippines

And of course, Philippines! How can I forget my home country? If you’re planning to visit the Pearl of the Orient because of its wonderful beaches and 7,000+ islands, know that it won’t cost you a fortune.

USD 1 = PHP 51.87

EUR 1 = PHP 58.83

Other Currencies

In this section, I will provide the other Asian countries which I haven’t visited yet and their corresponding currencies. I will also update this post and explain more about the country and its currency once I travel there. ūüėČ

Country Currency ISO-4217  PHP 1   USD 1 
Afghanistan Afghan afghani AFN  1.529   79.320 
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan manat AZN  0.033   1.703 
Bahrain Bahraini dinar BHD  0.007   0.377 
Bangladesh Bangladeshi taka BDT  1.630   84.530 
Bhutan Bhutanese ngultrum BTN  1.339   69.450 
Brunei Brunei dollar BND  0.026   1.351 
China Chinese Yuan Renminbi CNY  0.133   6.910 
Cyprus European euro EUR  0.017   0.882 
Georgia Georgian lari GEL  0.053   2.730 
Hong Kong (China) Hong Kong dollar HKD  0.151   7.843 
India Indian rupee INR  1.338   69.390 
Iran Iranian rial IRR  823.600   42,720.00 
Iraq Iraqi dinar IQD  22.940   1,190.00 
Israel Israeli new shekel ILS  0.069   3.576 
Japan Japanese yen JPY  2.086   108.200 
Jordan Jordanian dinar JOD  0.014   0.709 
Kazakhstan Kazakhstani tenge KZT  7.386   383.100 
Kuwait Kuwaiti dinar KWD  0.006   0.304 
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstani som KGS  1.324   68.680 
Laos Lao kip LAK  166.800   8,650.00 
Lebanon Lebanese pound LBP  29.140   1,511.00 
Macau (China) Macanese pataca MOP  0.156   8.074 
Malaysia Malaysian ringgit MYR  0.080   4.148 
Maldives Maldivian rufiyaa MVR  0.298   15.450 
Mongolia Mongolian tugrik MNT  47.300   2,454.00  
Myanmar (formerly Burma) Myanmar kyat MMK  29.360   1,523.00  
Nepal Nepalese rupee NPR  2.142   111.100 
North Korea North Korean won KPW  17.329   899.744 
Oman Omani rial OMR  0.007   0.385 
Pakistan Pakistani rupee PKR  2.883   149.500 
Palestine Israeli new shekel ILS  0.069   3.576 
Qatar Qatari riyal QAR  0.070   3.641 
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabian riyal SAR  0.072   3.750 
Singapore Singapore dollar SGD  0.026   1.362 
South Korea South Korean won KRW  22.790   1,182.00 
Sri Lanka Sri Lankan rupee LKR  3.402   176.500 
Syria Syrian pound SYP  9.928   515.00 
Tajikistan Tajikistani somoni TJS  0.182   9.427 
Timor-Leste United States dollar USD  0.019   1.00 
Turkmenistan Turkmen manat TMT  329.600   17,095.00 
United Arab Emirates UAE dirham AED  0.071   3.673 
Uzbekistan Uzbekistani som UZS  164.100   8,510.00 
Yemen Yemeni rial YER  4.827   250.400 

Take note that foreign exchange rates vary from time to time. The value of your money today might be less or more than yesterday. The rates are just guides for you to have a better understanding of the currencies in Asia. Also, if you are looking for countries found both in Asia and Europe (like Russia) and they’re not on this list, you may find them here.

Did I help you understand the currencies in Asia better? What are your suggestions for this post? Let me know by commenting down below!

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17 thoughts on “Money Matters: Understand the Currencies in Asia

  1. I usually prefer to exchange the money before I travel because I do not know how easy it would be to find an exchange in the country I am travelling to – especially when I am going to an Asian country. Thanks for this detailed guide; I have often noticed that if you carry US Dollars with you, it is not very difficult to exchange them into the local currency once you’re in the country (specifically valid for Asia).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I see that you have a different preference than me, Medha. ūüôā Well, I agree that with USD, you can easily exchange it to any local currency. And it gives you better rates compared with directly converting the local Asian currency to another Asian currency.

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  2. I wish we had known that about Cambodia before we went. We got there and exchanged currency, just to find out everyone accepted US dollars!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice one, Bree! We are planning to have our first ever trip abroad around the SEA region. Your currency guide will be helpful. Although we have a credit card, we do prefer paying in cash. Yeah, old school. Hehehe!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is really important to understand the currencies of different countries in Southeast Asia, especially when the currency value is low, it gets really difficult to carry so much of cash and spend around. I remember when I was in Vietnam I was finding it too difficult to understand the value change between US dollars and Vietnamese dong.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally agree with you. Understanding the currencies in Asia is helpful and will save us from costly bank charges or foreign exchange fees. We should know when and where we can find good rates as well so we can have more money to spend. ūüėČ

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  5. I found all this information on Asian currencies extremely useful. I’m heading to Asia for the first time next year and will be visiting Thailand, Singapore, and Cambodia. I have a lot to learn before I go, so I found this quite helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Can we really use USD in Cambodia? it’s a surprise for me:). I also didn’t know we might find some dificulties trying to exchage money in Indonesia or Thailand due to minimum amount of money to exchange or problems to break 100$ into smaller bills. Thanks for sharing those information – very useful. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Magda! Yes, I paid for everything in USD in Cambodia. Even the small vendors in the streets accept and give you your change in USD! ūüôā I think we should really understand the currencies in Asia so we can avoid such problems in the countries we want to visit. ūüôā

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  7. Great information for travel to Asia! I hope to visit Cambodia soon and wasn’t aware they accept USD as well there! Thanks for the tip!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is super helpful as I am planning a trip to southeast Asia in the near future! Are there any places you can get by on credit card alone?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Shane, thanks for dropping by! Yes, there are. In Thailand, Vietnam, and Taiwan, I’m pretty sure you can use credit cards in most establishments, especially in the city. Indonesia as well. When it comes to Cambodia, I believe you can’t unless it’s a high-end establishment. Cambodia is still highly dependent on cash. I personally think that in any place that accepts CC, you should still bring cash. At least minimal. For small vendors and establishments are still present everywhere. ūüôā Hope that helps!

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