If you have been to any of these countries, you know how much they value and appreciate the almighty U.S. dollar.
Back in 1980, the Vietnamese dong was trading at 2.05 to the US dollar. Fast-forward to November 2021 and the rate of exchange has nose-dived to 22,946.6 dong to the dollar. The Vietnamese government has devalued the currency many times since the 1980s in order to boost exports, which has helped the country to become an increasingly attractive alternative to China on the global manufacturing stage. However, Vietnam’s national currency remains one of the weakest in the world. This can in part be attributed to its relative newness compared to long-established currencies, which leads investors to view the money as a riskier investment.
The dong can only be exchanged within Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos, and its coinage is no longer minted due to its incredibly low value. Denominations of the Vietnamese banknotes start at 1,000 and go up to 500,000. Confidence in the currency is so low that US dollars are widely used and largely preferred as a means to pay for goods and services, particularly by wealthier Vietnamese citizens and foreign tourists.
I know I have some 500,000 bank notes somewhere. They love Americans and the US dollar. Very few people remember the war, most likely because they were not alive at the time!!!
When Laos declared its independence from France in 1952, it officially replaced the French Indochinese piastre with its own currency: the Royal kip. This was then replaced by the Pathet Lao kip following the communist takeover in 1975, which itself was then swapped for the new Lao PDR kip just three years later.
Unlike other currencies deemed almost worthless, the kip didn’t suffer extortionate inflation rates, but was actually issued with a very low rate compared to the US dollar. However, inflation has affected the currency since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, which has helped to push down the value of the kip. Thai baht and US dollars are also commonly accepted in Laos due to the kip’s instability, and at the time of writing $1 is equivalent to 10,922.9 Laotian kip.
I recall that we used Thai baht and dollars when we visited Laos. Of course, the US bombed the crap out of Laos, denying that we did anything to endanger innocent people there.
During the rule of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, commonly known as the Khmer Rouge, in the 1970s, Cambodia became the first country to abolish money. The Cambodian riel was then introduced in 1980 after the regime was toppled, but the country has since struggled to establish a solid and stable economy.
As part of a peacekeeping mission in 1992, $1.7 billion flowed into Cambodia courtesy of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia and foreign investment in the country has been on the up and up ever since. The riel rode on the back of the dollar’s strength, to the extent that American money has since become Cambodia’s de facto currency.
However, more than four decades after its introduction, the government is pushing for the riel to become the predominant currency once again. In 2015 the National Bank of Cambodia unveiled a new strategy to encourage citizens to use riel and the country is currently going through a de-dollarization process that involves phasing out small denominations of US bills. Cambodia also launched its “Bakong” digital currency in October 2020, and it is one of only two central bank digital currencies in the world. As it stands, $1 is currently equivalent to 4,076.52 Cambodian riel.
Our dear friends in Cambodia love us, maybe because we bring US dollars when we visit. I have visited Cambodia three times, and Angkor Wat is one of my favorite places in the world! I will probably go again.
Can you imagine having to carry your cash around in a laundry bag or wheelbarrow, just to have enough money to buy a loaf of bread? Plagued by serious devaluation, this is the reality in some nations as their currencies are not worth the paper they’re printed on. From the collapsing Venezuelan Bolívar to the ailing Iranian rial, read on as we reveal the world’s most worthless money. All conversions are based on Xe currency charts and are accurate as of 10 December 2021.
Consider yourselves fortunate to be an American when traveling to some of these places. I am sure you can picture me with “millions” of dongs, kip, and riel in my pockets. Forget using a wallet to hold it. A thick rubber band is best!!!
Euros, U.S. dollars and British pounds are much more manageable.