Travelers need to know the specific currency used in their destination. While local currency is the best to use in any country, it can be challenging to use a currency that depreciates quickly in value.
Most businesses in developing countries will also be hesitant to accept cards. Here is all you need to know about the currencies you can use in Vietnam:
Vietnam has used the Dong as its official currency since 1978, and it is distributed by the State Bank of Vietnam.
The country favored notes instead of coins when it introduced the currency, mostly for practical reasons. Vietnam also has the highest denominated bill in the world, that is the 500,000 bill.
Travelers to this country constantly joke about becoming millionaires because of the exchange rate. One million Vietnamese Dong is valued at around 42 USD. The first time you exchange money, therefore, you will be handed many notes with multiple zeros.
Do not get excited, however, as you will soon realize that you will spend it quickly. Most banks will exchange most foreign currencies for the Dong, including the Australian Dollar, Taiwanese Dollar, British Pound, Singaporean Dollar, and the Euro.
The country stopped using coins in 2011. The paper family includes low denominated notes. Paper commonly translates to “poor” in Vietnam because the notes have a low value.
The denominations 200, 500, and 1000 are worth very little, and you should not even use them to tip for service. The 5,000 bill has a pleasant blue color, and you can buy several items with it, including a bottle of water.
The next money category is the Polymer Family, commonly associated with the middle and upper classes. The 10,000 note will get you enough street food, including the Vietnamese iced coffee. Be careful when using the 20,000 and the 500,000 notes as they are quite similar.
If you are backpacking across Vietnam, a dorm room will cost about 80,000, which you can pay with the green 100,000 note. A 200,000 banknote will give you better accommodation in the form of a double-bedroom and a private bathroom.
The 500,000 note is about 20 USD, and you can travel comfortably when using 500,000 Dong a day.
You can get the Vietnamese Dollar in places like:
- Banks- Most travelers know that banks are the most trustworthy hubs to change money. The Vietcombank will change many foreign currencies, like British Pounds, Thai Baht, USD Dollars, and Singaporean Dollar. Other banks to consider include Asia Commercial Bank, Exim Bank, and Techcombank. The banks will also consider traveler’s checks and charge a commission rate between 0.5% to 2%.
- Jewelry Shops- Gold and jewelry shops are also popular as money exchange shops in Vietnam. These shops are mostly situated in Hanoi’s old quarter and the Nguyen An Ninh Street in Ho Chi Minh City.
- Hotels- You can get fair rates in bigger hotels, although smaller facilities will typically include an extra fee.
- Airports- Currency exchange stalls are available in the airports of Ho Chin Minh City and Hanoi. The exchange rate is, however, expensive in these places, and it is advisable to change enough money to pay the taxi to the city.
It is a good idea to walk around and look for the best exchange rate. You can also check for real-time rates on your phone to get an idea of what the rate should be.
Ensure that you check the notes you have received before you leave the stall to avoid getting scammed. Do not change too much money in case you end up with too many notes and nowhere to keep them safe.
When changing currencies, ask for a range of VND notes, including a handful in the lower denominations. If you have only the 500,000 note, check into convenience stores to “break” it into multiple bills.
The first thing to do with the Dong notes it to familiarize yourself with them. The multiple zeros can be confusing, and it is common for tourists to overpay for services.
Using USD in Vietnam
USD can be used in Vietnam, just in large shops and hotels. The Dong is tied to the USD, and you can pay for a visa on arrival with US Dollars. Prices in shops will, however, be given in the local currency, and they can use higher exchange rates if you use USD.
Establishments that are off the beaten path will also not take US Dollars. Other foreign currencies are not used in the country.
When exploring local attractions, ensure you have VND instead of US Dollars. The Vietnamese currency will make it easy to enjoy street food and buy items in the local markets.
It helps to bargain when shopping around since most sellers will charge you tourist rates on the assumption that you are rich.
ATMs in Vietnam
Most cities are served by a network of ATMs, which only give out the Vietnamese Dong. Different ATMs will offer varying limits, mostly between two to 10 million VND. Withdrawal fees generally range between 20,000 to 50,000 per transaction.
Most ATMs will accept most cards, including Visa, Master Card, and JCB. Check the ATM signs to avoid having your card held. It is a good idea to use the ATMs linked to a bank and look around for any suspicious activity. Withdraw money during the bank’s operating hours to get any help if need be.
Using Debit and Credit Cards in Vietnam
Some large establishments accept cards, although this may not be the case in some restaurants and supermarkets. Some facilities will, however, include a 3% Surcharge in the final price.
If you also consider the foreign transaction fees that the credit card company will charge you, the use of cards may not be ideal. You can use a company that does not charge foreign transaction fees.
You can also use traveler’s checks, although you can only use them at authorized foreign-exchange banks.
As tourism increases in Vietnam, so does the money options for travelers. There are many ATMs in major cities, and some in the rural areas and more establishments are accepting cards and US Dollars.
The most convenient currency to use in the country is the Vietnamese Dong, which goes up to 500,000 notes. You can exchange money at banks, hotels, airports, and jewelry shops.