Folded Money In Unstable Countries
“No, not rich. I am a poor man with money, which is not the same thing.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I knew that when I went to Myanmar a few years ago that their bank only accepts foreign currency that is new, crisp, not torn and not folded and preferably in hundred-dollar bill denominations. I knew it and I forgot it. I went to the bank and got the sparkling new hundred-dollar bills. When I was packing, I promptly folded my crisp new hundred-dollar bills in half and put them in my passport case. This resulted in a black market money exchange, up a four flight betel nut stained stairway (which looks like dried blood), to an apartment of someone who my non-English speaking driver knew.
I was not prepared in that way for Cambodia or new military controlled Thailand.
You can pay everything in dollars in Cambodia. But not if they are a bit torn or folded. Everyone examines your money the way an art dealer looks for a forgery. A barely visible ink dot, a half-millimeter tear, even a crease that has weakened the fibers, is enough to get your bill rejected. Many are rejected. Smaller bills like ones and fives could not be marked but did not have to be wrinkle free. Euros don’t seem to show the wear and tear that dollars do so you might consider using them.
In Thailand, they turned down a one dollar bill that I had just gotten as change in Cambodia. “It is too old, “ they said. Some countries wont accept any money minted before 2006.
The best thing when traveling to third world countries with unstable governments is to go to the bank and get crisp new bills before you go and don’t fold them.
Apparently, the more unstable and corrupt the government, the newer and cleaner, your dollars need to be. You wont have any problem with changing your rumpled money in Europe.