Vietnam Money Matters and Business

Currency

The official currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND). Although a handful of places will accept payment in US dollars most people would much prefer to be paid in Dong, so it is important to keep a good supply of local currency while traveling in Vietnam.

Vietnamese use both coins and paper notes. But as Vietnam is currently changing its money system, there exists parallel two different money systems (old and new) which can cause confusion.

Coins include VND 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500 and 200. These values have paper note equivalences.

The following values: VND 500,000; 200,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000; 10,000. exist both in the new polymer form and the old normal paper notes. Cheques with value as Vietnamese dong include: VND 1,000,000 and 500,000.

Method of payment

Direct payment of cash is most popular in Vietnam. Small shops, restaurants and markets usually do not accept any other payment.

Major credit cards (such as Visa, Master Charge and to some extent American Express) are increasingly being used, especially in big cities and tourist places, but only in restaurants, hotels or big shopping malls with a transactional fee (3%-5%).

ATMs & Travelers Cheques

Many travelers are concerned by the safety of their money when traveling, and travelers cheques are a popular option for those who do not like carrying around cash or cards. Sadly, it can be quite difficult to cash travelers cheques in Vietnam and many major hotels will only exchange currency for current residents – so unless you are staying in five star hotels throughout your trip this may be difficult.

Thankfully Vietnam’s ATM network is expanding rapidly, and it is rare to visit a town that does not have an ATM facility of some kind. Most ATMs will accept Visa and Mastercard debit or credit cards – but be wary of high charges from your bank if you make a withdrawal on a credit card. The Plus network is also widely supported but there are a couple of banks that do not accept Plus cards so you may need to shop around.

Most banks will only allow you to withdraw a maximum of 2,000,000 VND, or just over $100, but ANZ and HSBC machines will allow you to withdraw up to 4,000,000 VND, which should reduce your trips to the cashpoint and cut down on fees at home. It is common practice for ATMs in Vietnam to charge for withdrawals from non-customers which will be in addition to your own bank’s fees – this is generally around 20,000 Dong or roughly $1 per transaction, though a couple of banks charge 30,000. HSBC has a charge of 1% which can be up to 40,000 VND on a withdrawal of 4 million dong.

If you are worried about having your own bank cards stolen an increasingly popular option is to arrange a pre-paid credit card before you leave home. Many provider issue special cards for travellers, with favourable exchange rates and insurance against theft or loss, offering a convenient and safe way to carry your money in Vietnam

Banking hours

The hours may differ from bank to bank. Generally banks open from Monday to Friday: 8:00 – 11:30 and 1:00 to 4:00. Some large banks also open through lunch or on Saturday mornings. Banks are closed on public holidays.

Two tier pricing system

In many places in Vietnam, foreigners and visitors still have to pay a much higher fee for entrance or services. However this system is slowly changing as prices are being standardized.