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Tet 2020


Vietnam Currency For Tourists

Traveling to another country can sometimes require you to get to know and prepare a lot of things. One of the most common questions tourists usually ask when they come to Vietnam is related to the currency.

This article provides you with all the information regarding the Vietnam currency so that you can avoid first-time mistakes that may sour your experience of the local people and the country overall.

Vietnam's Currency for Tourists When coming to Vietnam!

So, what is it? What does it look like? And how do you get it? Well, hopefully, this post will help you to understand the money situation in Vietnam

Vietnam Currency For Tourists

1. What is Vietnam’s currency?


It is the Vietnamese Dong (VND), and it is the ONLY official currency in Vietnam.

2. What does it look like?


I suppose the good news is that there are no coins, so that’s one less thing to think about.

Vietnam Currency For Tourists 1
Photo: internet
The main bank notes are of a plastic polymer material, and they come in six different denominations; 10 000, 20 000, 50 000, 100 000, 200 000 and 500 000.

Vietnam Currency For Tourists 2
Photo: internet
There are also three paper notes, and they come in 1000, 2000 and 5000 denominations. While the paper notes are worth very little, they do add up, and they also come in handy for paying the small fee that you are often asked to pay to use certain toilets and restrooms you’ll see around the cities.

3. How to Exchange your currency to VND?  Where to Change Your Money?


Exchanging many of the world’s currencies in Vietnam, including US dollars, Euros, Pounds, and Australian dollars, is very easy.  It is also very cost effective, as there are usually no transaction fees.

It’s also worth noting that the exchange rate you will be offered in Vietnam is far better than the rate you receive at home, so it is strongly recommended that you hold off from buying Dong until you arrive in Vietnam.

So, where can you exchange currency in Vietnam?

There’s several options, including banks, foreign exchange stores, jewellery / gold shops (technically illegal, but you’ll find plenty of places that will happily do it), the many tour agents you’ll see dotted around the major towns and cities, hotels and airports.

While the rate fluctuates daily, along with different businesses also offering varying rates, you will usually find they are all in the ballpark of the official rate.

And yes, even at the airports.  Airports in Vietnam are a little different to airports in other countries, in that regard.

So, using banks may seem like the obvious one, but be aware that it will take a little more time as you’ll need to supply your passport, as well as fill out some forms.

The rest are pretty straight forward, in that you simply ask the rate being offered, and then, if you’re happy, exchange your own cash for the equivalent in Dong.

Ok, so how to go about swapping your own money?

First, make sure the notes that you are exchanging are in good condition. ie, they’re not torn, or have writing on them.  Having higher denomination notes is also a good idea.

Second, have an idea of what the official rate is before you enter whichever establishment you’ve chosen.

To do that, either download a currency conversion app to your phone, or simply check out a currency exchange website.

The rate that the app or website tells you won’t automatically be the rate that you will be offered, but it should be close.

If you’re not happy with what you’ve been offered, then simply move onto the next one.

If you are happy with what’s being offered, then go ahead and do the deal.  Make sure you are given a good mix of denominations; while a wallet or purse full of 500 000 Dong notes is less bulky to carry around, changing them on the street for low cost items like food, drinks, and even taxi fares, can be problematic.

You don’t really want any of the almost worthless paper notes, which you’re unlikely to receive anyway, but having a few 100 000 Dong notes, along with maybe a few 50 000 Dong notes, will make life that little bit easier.

Exchange now complete, there’s just one more thing you need to do before you head out to start spending.

And that is to count your newly acquired Dong in front of your exchange person before you leave the store.  It may help to solve any potential problems.

Oh, and one last thing on exchanging cash; only change what you need, when you need it.  Your own currency will take up far less real estate in your wallet or purse, than VND will.

Vietnam Currency For Tourists 3
Photo: internet

4. Is USD Widely Accepted in Viet nam?


A question that’s often asked: is USD widely accepted in Vietnam?

The simple answer is “yes”! Though the official currency of Vietnam is Dong (VND), many big shops and hotels of Vietnam accept US dollar as well.

When you travel to Vietnam, it’s handy if you bring some dollars. Especially if you plan to get a Vietnam visa on arrival, it will save you a lot of trouble - the visa stamping fee must be paid in USD (approx USD45 for a single-entry visa) or VND. But it’s also important keep a good supply of VND for small purchase and for use when you’re off the tourist beaten path because most places still prefer dong.

Vietnam Currency For Tourists 4
Photo: internet

5. ATMs


ATMs, which only dispense VND, are arguably the simplest and easiest option.  And don’t worry, you’ll find them everywhere the vast majority of tourists go, as well as most of the more ‘off the well trodden path’ places, too.

But before you add a debit / credit card or two to your packing list, there are some things you need to know.

First, find out from your bank what they are going to charge you each time you use your card in an ATM, or in an EFTPOS machine belonging to a business. The international fees some, read many, banks charge, may not seem overly expensive at first, but be aware that those charges quickly add up.  It’s not unusual for a bank to slug you $5 for each transaction.  You’ll also have ‘their’ exchange rate to contend with.

Second, ATMs in Vietnam have limits on how much you can withdraw each transaction, and that limit, on average, is usually only around 3 000 000 Dong. ($150, give or take)  While some machines have higher limits, they can sometimes be difficult to find.  There’s nothing stopping you from making several withdrawals one after the other, but remember that possible $5 transaction fee?  Yep, that’s going to start to hurt.

And third, ATM fees. Yes, there’s also a fee to use ATMs in Vietnam.  It varies from machine to machine, and can be anywhere from 20 000 – 60 000 Dong per transaction.  Again, not a huge cost, but accumulated over a number of transactions over several weeks, well, it’s just another holiday expense you need to deal with.

Vietnam Currency For Tourists 5
Photo: internet

6. Credit Cards


Credit cards can also be an option, but be aware that Vietnam is very much a cash society.

You won’t find too many street food vendors with eftpos facilities.

But certainly for things like paying accommodation bills, perhaps certain tours, or even a meal or two in upper end restaurants, using a credit card might be a good option.  It may save you from making multiple ATM withdrawals, thus avoiding potential expensive fees, as well as carrying around large bundles of cash.

Please note, however, that most merchants will add a 3% commission fee to the transaction total.

Depending on what your bank charges you in international transaction fees, that may or may not be too much of an issue.

7. Vietnam Currency Tips


Don't mistake one bill for another. As if the multiple zeroes aren't confusing enough, some VND denominations can look very similar to the untrained eye. Many tourists have overpaid with VND 100,000 bills, mistaking them for the similarly greenish VND 10,000.

Warning: polymer notes stick. The 2003-issue Vietnam dong are made of long-lasting polymer, not paper: and these plastic notes can stick together, presenting another risk you'll overpay for your goods. Flick or peel your notes carefully when paying for a purchase.

Avoid paying in high-denomination bills. Very few vendors will willingly change your VND 500,000, so make sure you're carrying smaller bills when going shopping.

Don’t change your currencies on the black market. The legal exchange rate beats black market rates any time; claims of better rates are probably just the lead-up to a scam.

Hopefully that’s made the whole ‘money thing in Vietnam’ a little clearer.  Especially the bit about what Vietnam’s official currency. If you have any questions about Vietnam currency or plan to come to Vietnam and need advice, please contact us. We are here to assist you on your journey in Vietnam. Email us: info@vietnamtypicaltours.com
Item Reviewed: Vietnam Currency For Tourists Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Nga Do
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