Getting ready for your Vietnam trip? Plan your travel budget and money first. One of the main reasons why many tourists are cheated in shopping and payment is that they are not familiar with the currency and prices of Vietnam. Let us help you know the currency and money to help you plan your budget.
What is the currency in Vietnam?
The Vietnamese Dong (VND; symbol: ₫) is the official currency of Vietnam. There seems to be a lot of denominations in Vietnam, and the most commonly used are：VND 1,000, VND 2,000, VND 5,000; VND 10,000, VND 20,000, VND 50,000; VND 100,000, VND 50,000, VND 200,000 and VND 500,000. Since polymer money was put into use starting in 2003, now only paper notes with a value of VND 1,000, VND 2,000 and VND 5,000 are still valid in Vietnam.
Vietnamese Dong or US Dollar, which is the best currency to use in Vietnam?
Most payments are made with Vietnamese Dong, but US dollars can be directly used for some hotels, restaurants, tours, or other services. You may see the prices for food, drinks, and souvenirs in Ho Chi Minh City's airport are all in US dollars. However, it is not recommended to pay with US dollars, because they will be converted at a lower exchange rate and you will end up paying more.
Where to change money in Vietnam?
Most major currencies can be changed in Vietnam. US Dollars can easily be changed in banks, hotels, airport money exchange stalls and jewelry shops. Other currencies including Euros, AUD and UK Pounds can be changed in banks.
Banks: You can change foreign currency and checks at the safest place - banks such as Eximbank, Vietcombank, Vietinbank, Agribank, etc, around the city. But it's a slow process and you'll be charged a commission rate of between 0.5% to 2%. And if your notes are dirty or damaged, you will be charged an additional 2% of the note's value.
Hotels: You can get a more competitive rate by changing your currency in large hotels, nearly equal to the bank. And small hotels may charge a service fee.
Airports: You will find some currency exchange stalls when arriving at the airport of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. However, the exchange rate is unfavorable here. Therefore, it's best to change a small sum to cover your taxi fare and head to town for a better rate.
Gold and Jewelry shops: You can go to the gold and jewellery stores, usually in red and gold colors, on every main street for better deals. With no fees, the exchange rate is considerably better than that in hotels, banks and airports.
You can check the rate and use currency converter tools online, and ask around to choose the best deal. In recent years, the exchange rate of Vietnam Dong to US Dollar is between VND 22,500 to 23,500. At the moment of writing this article, 1 US Dollar equals to VND 23,212.
Can I use cards in Vietnam?
Debit and credit cards like Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted in Vietnam, especially in hotels or shopping malls, but probably not suitable for a roadside stall or a noodle house. You may be charged a 3%–4% commission if paying with plastic.
How to withdraw cash at ATMs in Vietnam?
ATMs are available in major cities and tourist areas of Vietnam, but chip-and-pin ATMs are not easy to find. Therefore, it's best to bring a card with a magnetic stripe on the back. ATMs only dispense VDN. When you withdraw from ATMs, all foreign currencies will be automatically changed to VND based on the bank rate at that time.
ATMs have limits. Generally the maximum amount is from VND 2,000,000 to 5,000,000; VND 8,000,000 to 10,000,000 for a few global banks; or up to VND 2,000,000 in rural districts. Charging fees also vary from bank to bank. Most banks charge from VND 40,000 to 100,000 (USD 2–5) each time. ANZ or Citibank are recommended as they charge the lowest transaction fee.
It's best to use the ATM connected to the bank, and keep cautious about anything or anyone suspicious nearby. Always check the card slot before you insert your cards.
How much money do I need in Vietnam?
According to the law, amounts exceeding VND 15,000,000 must be declared on arrival and amount exceeding USD 5,000 or equivalent in other currencies must be declared as well.
Hotels: Usually, the price of budget hotels is USD 25–50 per night; If you choose to stay at more modest accommodations like a guesthouse, the price is around USD10–20 per night.
Transportation: Domestic airfare for round trips should be not more than USD 150 within the country if you book in advance. Train fares are USD 5–60 while bus fares are a little lower at USD 1.5–50 depending on the class and distance. The average price of a taxi is USD 0.4–0.48 per km.
Book a flight in advance
Food: You can have lunch or dinner at USD 8–15 per person and USD 3–4 for breakfast. For common Vietnamese dishes, the price may be as low as USD 1–5 per dish.
Tour Activities: Expect to pay USD 20–40 for a day trip in Vietnam, including a shuttle service. And the price is about USD 120–200 for a 2D1N Halong Bay Cruise.
Therefore, USD 40 per day or less is enough for backpackers. If you want to have a more comfortable holiday, you can prepare USD 50–100 per day. If you like to wake up in a luxury hotel, it's easy to find 5-star hotels to match a budget of more than USD 200 a day.
How to bargain in Vietnam?
Bargaining can be fun and is very common in Vietnam, just as in other Southeast Asian countries. When you buy souvenirs at Ben Thanh Market of Ho Chi Minh City, you will be overcharged because locals think that foreign tourists are all rich. So you can bargain hard, but you should be respectful and polite to the sellers. Discounts of 50% or more are possible. If you are not sure about the price, shop around to find the market price as many shops sell the same goods.
Is it customary to tip in Vietnam?
Tipping is not expected in Vietnam, but it's much appreciated.Hotels: You can give a small gratuity for cleaning staff and porter if you like. But 5%–10% service fee may have been added on your bill in large hotels.
Restaurants: Locals don't tip. A 5%–10% service fee may be charged on your bill.
Guides and Drivers: A tip of a few dollars per day is reasonable if you think they have really done a good job of making your trip memorable.
More tips for changing and using money in Vietnam
1. Don't change money on the black market as it is probably just the lead-up to a scam.
2. Don't change too much money at one time, or you will need a suitcase to carry your Vietnamese Dong around.
3. Don't accept any damaged notes from others, as it will be hard for you to use them again.
4. Check the polymer material, hidden image element and embossing to ensure you receive genuine notes.
5. The new polymer notes easily stick to each other, so count your money carefully and try not to pay more money than you need.
If you have any question about the currency or want to get some professional travel tips about Vietnam, feel free to contact our team to obtain more suggestions. You can also choose one of our tailor-made tours and travel around Vietnam with our local guides.