Vietnam is the go-to for many travellers who consider themselves a little too cool for the Khao San road, the Full Moon Party or the tubing rivers of Vang Vieng.* It’s got the gritty narrow streets and sprawling Soviet squares of Ho Chi Minh City, the European quaintness of Hội An and the chaotic old quarter of Hanoi, all entirely different and all still coming to terms with the country’s recent past.
It’s this diversity (and an occasional, somewhat justified aversion to foreigners) that makes Vietnam a little tricky when it comes to managing your money. But again, fear not, as we’ve put together the guide below to help you out.
*(If you’re still looking for a Southern-Thailandesque party, however, we would recommend Nha Trang).
|Currency in Vietnam||Vietnamese Dong (VND)|
|Budget Accommodation||£4-8 per night for hostel/guesthouse|
|Bottle of Water||£0.25|
* Prices based on Ho Chi Minh City
Dong Banknote Denominations: 200, 500 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, 100000, 200000, 500000.
Coins: 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000. The use of coins has decreased to the point where many places will not accept them.
The Vietnamese Dong comes in paper and polymer notes. The lower denominations being paper with the higher valued notes in polymer.
Cash or Card?
Cash still rules Vietnam but many places will accept your debit or credit card. The larger hotels and restaurants, especially in tourist areas, should take Mastercard, Visa, and Amex although there will be a 3-4% charge. If you are likely to be eating street food, shopping in markets, and drinking in smaller bars then cash will be your only option. Withdraw enough to make the ATM fees worth it and keep your cards as a backup.
Vietnam is home to a large number of ATMs, with MasterCard, Maestro, Cirrus, Visa (all the big ones) all accepted. Unfortunately, their ATMs like to charge foreigners a fee. You’re talking 25,000d to 50,000d a pop. It’s only a couple of quid but it all adds up over the course of a long trip. Whilst these fees are unavoidable you can save yourself a lot of money by remember to say no to DCC charges. Practice with our quiz before you go and you will be an ATM Pro in no time.
Here’s a list for you of the main ATMs in Vietnam and where to locate their ATMs:
- Despite Vietnam’s somewhat frosty relationship with the United States (especially in the north, for obvious reasons) the dollar still holds a lot of sway here. A lot of tourist attractions and accommodation options will charge in dollars, so good to have some on hand.
- Keep an eye out for ATMs that do smaller denominations, as the larger notes can be pretty tough to break down. A local beer can cost as little as 30,000d and the notes go up to 500,000d. This will often result with you not getting your beer or running from shop to shop trying to break up your half-a-million. Which isn’t a great look.
- Also, make sure those little dongs or dollars are new and fresh. Any damaged or dirty notes tend to be charged an additional 2% on top of their face value when exchanged.
- Pick a travel card that gives you free ATM withdrawals and good currency conversion rates. Compare and pick which is best for you.