Vietnamese official currency is the Dong (VND). But other foreign currencies, preferably US dollar are well accepted in the nation wide, especially in big cities and major tourist’s destinations. Unless you pay by cards, paying with your home currency in cash is a more expensive way, as the exchange rate will be converted with the vendor’s own rate. When you are agreeing with prices in shops or restaurants, always use VND to avoid trouble about the exchange rate that may happen. Some places use the official exchange rate but some try to use their own. So make sure you have some Vietnam dongs with you. And no need to change all your monies into VND and take them along with you. ATMs machines and exchange bureaus are everywhere.
Vietnam money and how not to get confused
At time of writing 1 USD trades approximately 22,400 dongs. I know that the heck of many zeros! And I’m afraid you have to get used to it well during your time in Vietnam. But look! You’ll become a millionaire instantly right when you change some money into Vietnam money. Make sure you include that in postcards sent home. This is the table of how much approximately popular currencies convert into dongs. (June 2016)
To check out how much is the exchange rate of the day you can visit the official website of Vietcombank here. Or use apps in your smart phones- which are now really popular.
If you are going to change some of your home currency into VND at banks, please make sure those notes are clean, undamaged and not too badly creasy with NO writing of all type on them. And the most important is, if the banks can spot out some fake money, they will evict it under all circumstances.
Visa and Master cards are well accepted in almost all hotels, boats, restaurants, shopping malls in every big cities of Vietnam. They usually ask for a surcharge of 3% for Visa and Master cards, and 4% for American Express. When using your cards to pay, make sure you witness the whole process and not letting the cards out of your sights. I’ve got clients who visited Vietnam coming back home to know that they’ve got their money stolen from their cards. Also make sure you inform your banks that you are traveling to Vietnam. So they won’t block your cards when abnormal usage of cards is suspected.
And NEVER ever fall for offer to change your money to Vietnam money by some “really good exchange rate” people on the street. There is a big chance of scams like fake money or even snatching it from you and run. Always do it at banks, official exchange bureaus or your hotels.
Also try not to change or withdraw too much money at a time. Depends on the type of your cards you can withdraw maximum 20 millions dongs a day. And at one process you can withdraw maximum 2 million dongs. The largest value of one note is 500,000 dongs being roughly about 23 USD or 20EUR. And here is the list of notes and how much value in some popular currencies. You can print this out and consult it quickly when in need.
And there are also 5,000- 2,000- 1,000- 500 dong notes but they are too small to mention. Just forget about it. Wait, they can become handy when you go to public toilets. Public toilets will charge you 2,000/time/person. Better keep those small notes.
All those above notes come in all colors and sizes. And some of them look quite familiar with only a careless glance. Like the 200,000 note looks like the 50,000 note. Take a good look when you receive Vietnam money change from vendors.
There are also coins of 5,000- 2,000-1,000-500-200 but they are no longer in use. If you happen to have some Vietnam coins then take them home as souvenir. No vendors will accept them anymore.
When you are finishing your Vietnam trip make sure you spend up all the Vietnam money you have. As when out of Vietnam the VND will not be accepted, except some very few places in Cambodia and Laos. And it is next to impossible to convert dongs into dollars or any other currencies. Some places like travel agencies could do it for you but not with the rate you expect. So better calculate the Vietnam money you need and only change/withdraw some at a time. Again do not change all your cash into Vietnam money at once.
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By Pham Tuyen