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Top 5 Countries Where You’ll Need to Take Some Cash

We’ve rounded up the top 5 cash-based holiday destinations where you’ll need to delete your Apple Pay, and take some cash instead!

1. Indonesia

1. Indonesia

The Republic of Indonesia is known for its stunning islands, laid back locals, and popularity as a prime beach getaway destination. The Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) is the dominant form of payment here. Whilst cards are slowly becoming more popular, they still aren’t accepted as the preferred form of payment.

So why is cash still so popular? To start, service charges for topping up prepaid credit cards often cost more than products themselves, and on the street cash remains an efficient alternative1. What’s more, many of Indonesia's beautiful islands don’t have steady internet connections and often rely on generators for electricity, making card payments all the more difficult.

Cash-Only Indonesian Experiences:

Outside large malls, big restaurants, and major hotels, you’d be smart to carry Rupiah. Attractions like temples, boat rides, other forms of public transport, street food vendors, and small restaurants are mainly cash only. Travelling to Indonesia? Browse our Indonesia Travel Guide for more tips before you fly.


2. Vietnam

A range of factors ensure that Dong remains popular in Vietnam. These include large surcharges when paying by bank card, providers not accepting cashless payments, insufficient infrastructure, high fees, and the fear of fraud when paying by card.3

Cash-Only Vietnamese Experiences:

As Vietnam is a cash-based society, you’ll find that markets, street food, and small restaurants may not have card payment facilities. If you’re planning on a quintessential Vietnamese motorbike trip, mechanics, and petrol stations are usually cash only. Make sure you also have Vietnam Dong prepared to pay for entrance fees to museums and galleries. For more information on what to do in Vietnam, check out our Vietnam Travel Guide.


2. Vietnam
3. South Africa

3. South Africa

Located in the Southernmost tip of Africa, a holiday to South Africa means wineries, safaris, stunning nature, beaches, and cosmopolitan cities. A recent report found that more than half of all consumer transactions are paid in cash in South Africa4, despite the growing popularity of mobile payment options.

The country has seen a rapid increase in infrastructure that supports electronic-based payments, however day-to-day purchases are still generally made in cash. Another major reason cited for the prevalence of cash usage is fear of fraud, with the Boston Consulting Group finding that 33% of South Africans have a fear of falling victim to fraud when opting to use ATMs or mobile banking5.

Cash-Only South African Experiences:

Cash is essential in South Africa if you plan on buying anything from traditional African street markets, visiting rural townships, and tipping. Further to this, power outages and cuts are becoming increasingly common in South Africa6. These outages prevent POS payment systems from being used, making cash a must-have. For some ideas on what to see and do on your trip to South Africa, check out our Cape Town Travel Guide!.


4. Cambodia

Cambodia is synonymous with jungles, temples, islands, and buzzing nightlife. Like other South-East Asian countries, the majority of Cambodians are paid in cash. Subsequently, the majority of businesses operate as cash only.7

Conveniently, USD is the un-official second currency of Cambodia whichmeans USD is widely accepted in most places.

Cash-Only Cambodian Experiences:

Again, carrying cash in Cambodia (either USD or Riels) is recommended. With the exception of large hotels and high-end restaurants, most experiences may require a cash payment. This includes at markets, when buying street food, shopping at small shops, tipping, and the entry payment to the famous Angkor Wat temples. To get more of an idea of what everyday items may cost in Cambodia, check out our Indochina Travel Guide.


4. Cambodia
5. Japan

5. Japan

Sumo, sushi, sashimi, sakura, skiing - Japan has become one of the most popular holiday destinations for Australians, and for good reason. It may however, come as a surprise to find out that it is still very much a cash-driven economy. There are many reasons for this. They range from a trust in cash, limited acceptance of bank card payment, and the general sense of safety when carrying large amounts of Yen.10

Some foreign cards may not be accepted by Japanese ATMs. In addition to this, when withdrawing money from Japanese ATMs, you may be charged a small fee. Many ATMs also close in the evenings in Japan (11). Your best bet is to head to a 7/11 and withdraw there, or ensure you have sufficient cash on you.

Cash-Only Japanese Experiences:

Cash-only experiences in Japan include small shops and restaurants, temple entrances, and entrance to other museums and attractions. For more ideas on what you may be missing out on in Japan if you don’t have enough Yen on you, check out this handy article on cash-only Japanese experiences.




This information is compiled from external sources and is offered as a guide only. It is recommended you check before deciding whether to travel to a destination.