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According to Vietnamese laws, foreign currency can be easily changed into dong but not vice versa. Exchanging dong is quite a complicated procedure requiring some time and patience. In order to change dong into another currency one should show one's ticket as a confirmation of leaving Vietnam and one's ID. These documents will be photocopied by the bank employees. Then, one fills out a special form stating the sum, purpose of the exchange and destination country. Not all Vietnamese banks perform exchange of dong, but Vietcombank is one that does.

The national currency of Vietnam is the dong (đồng, VND), which is difficult to find or exchange outside Vietnam; change money on arrival and try to get rid of any leftovers before leaving the country. Continuing inflation and a series of devaluations continues to steadily push down the value of the dong, with US$1 dollar worth over 21,000 dong in April 2014. Bills are available in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000 dong. In 2003, coins were also introduced in denominations of 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 dong, although these are rarely seen.

Prices are widely advertised in U.S. dollars, namely because of the unstable currency valuation of the dong, but unlike neighboring Cambodia, for instance, payment is often expected in dong only, especially outside major tourist destinations. It is also easier to bargain with dong, especially since dollar prices are already rounded, and also because offering the price in dollars marks you as a "tourist" or "newcomer" - and as a potential target for scams/overcharging. Travel-related establishments (guesthouses, travel agencies, etc.) which quote their price in dollars, on the other side, may try to get from you slightly more if you wish to pay them in dong rather than dollars (e.g. calculating $1 as 21,000 or even 22,000 while the going rate was 20,800) - in this case it's actually cheaper to pay them in dollars.

Dollar bills in less than perfect condition may be rejected. US$2 bills (especially those printed in the 1970's) are considered lucky in Vietnam and are worth more than US$2. They make a good tip/gift, and many Vietnamese will keep them in their wallet for luck. US$50 and US$100 notes get a higher exchange rate than notes of lower denominations.

Most visitors opt to keep the bulk of their cash in U.S. dollars and exchange or withdraw dong as needed. There is often a considerable spread in dong buy/sell rates, and sometimes the same hotel has different rates for different services! In addition to banks and official exchange counters, you can exchange most hard currencies (Sterling, Yen, Swiss Francs, Euro etc.) at gold shops, often at slightly better than official rates. This is technically illegal, but enforcement is minimal. Hotels and travel agencies can also exchange money with differing exchange rates so look for the best rate.

For credit card payments, there is usually a 3% surcharge, so cash may be advantageous for large transactions.

Traveller cheques of well known companies are widely accepted, but usually a small fee is charged. Fees might also be the only thing that would keep you from getting cash advances on Visa- or Mastercard at most banks. Through both ways you can also get hold of U.S. dollars, though there will be even higher fees. There are mentions in some popular travel books about Vietcombank not charging any commission fees to cash AMEX travelers cheques. However, this is not true anymore.

ATMs are becoming more and more common and can be found in most bigger cities and every tourist destination. They will accept a selection of credit and bank-cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Maestro or Cirrus and several other systems. Typically withdrawals are limited to 2,000,000 dong per transaction, and will incur a 20,000 dong service fee.

  • EXIMBANK allows up to 2,000,000 dong per transaction with no charge. (Jan 2014)
  • ANZ Bank allows up to 4,000,000 - 10,000,000 dong per transaction (15,000,000 dong per day) with a 40,000 dong charge.
  • Vietcombank allows up to 2,000,000 dong per transaction with a 20,000 dong charge.
  • Techcombank allows up to 2,000,000 per transaction with a 30,000 dong charge (Dec 2013).
  • BIDV Bank allows up to 3,000,000 dong per transaction with a 60,000 dong charge that is not disclosed until after the transaction is completed. (May 2014).
  • Agribank allows up to 3,000,000 dong per transaction (25,000,000 dong per day) with a 20,000 dong charge. (Dec 2013)
  • SeABank allows up to 2,000,000 dong per transaction with no carge.
  • Citi Bank allows up to 8,000,000 dong per transaction with a 60,000 dong charge (Feb 2014).
  • MIlitary Bank (MB) up to 5,000,000 dong per transaction with no charge.

There are branches of money transfer companies like Western Union, but this is always one of the more expensive ways to get money.

Note for travellers departing from Hanoi airport: There are no money exchange establishments once you finish your immigration, so exchange your dong before you enter the departure hall unless you plan to shop.

 

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Vietnam, Currency, Exchange, Rate,
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Giấy chứng nhận đăng ký kinh doanh số: 0104731205 do Sở kế hoạch và đầu tư TP Hà Nội cấp ngày 03/06/2010
Giấy phép lữ hành Quốc Tế số: 01-687/2014/TCDL-GP LHQT

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