MONEY & COST
CURRENCIES USED IN VIETNAM
Besides the local currency, Vietnamese dong (VND), USD is the second mostly used currency in Vietnam, especially in big cities and towns and in popular tourist places in the countryside. It’s always handy to have both VND and USD in your wallets while travelling in Vietnam.
Name: Vietnamese dong
Symbol: VND or dong or Ä‘
The banknotes come in denominations of 200; 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20,000; 50,000; 100,000; 200,000; and 500,000 dong. In small towns, it can be difficult to get changes for the last notes of 500,000 Ä‘, so keep a stack of smaller bills handy.
Coins are being reintroduced for use in Vietnam, partially to help stave off the number of counterfeit banknotes. There are coins to the value of 200; 500; 1,000; 2,000 and 5,000 dong.
There is now a reasonably extensive network of ATMs in cities and even small towns and this can be a convenient way to get your hands on money. There are four ways to exchange currency: at a bank, through authorised exchange bureaus, at hotel reception desks, and on the black market. The safest places are at banks where you will get real bank notes and correct amounts. The legal exchange bureaus are generally more conveniently located and have longer opening hours, but some places offer lower rates. The black market rates sometimes give better rates than banks or exchanged bureaus but be careful with counterfeits or shortage of money. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and JCB credit cards are accepted in big hotels (mostly 4* and 5* hotels), fancy restaurants and big shops in cities town popular with tourists. Traveller checks should be converted into cash at banks with an interest rate of between 2.5 – 4%.
Estimated Exchange rates from VND into some currencies: updated in May 2011
Travellers staying in budget twin sharing accommodation and eating in small cafes should be able to get by on around US$20.00 to US$25.00 per day, plus long-distance transport costs and sightseeing fees. Those wanting to stay in mid-range hotels, eat out at moderate restaurants, charter occasional taxis and enjoy the nightlife should budget on around US$60.00 to US$100.00 a day. Those wanting to stay in luxury hotels, eat out at fancy restaurants, charter private transport and enjoy the nightlife should budget on around US$150.00 to US$200.00 a day.
Some cost examples:
- 2* hotel tourist class room rates including breakfast: around US$ 25.00 to US$35.00 per double/single room per night
- 3* hotel tourist class room rates including breakfast: around US$ 35.00 to US$55.00 per double/single room per night
- 4* hotel tourist class room rates including breakfast: around US$ 55.00 to US$100.00 per double/single room per night
- 5* hotel tourist class room rates including breakfast: around US$ 100.00 to US$150.00 per double/single room per night
- There are hotels of similar classifications but of higher rates
- Most taxi meters starts from VND 12,000/km for the first 30km in towns. For big distances out of towns or airport transfers, most taxi drivers prefer to make a deal without using meters. Then you need to know how big is the distance you want to go.
- 1 hour’s trishaw ride in Hanoi or HCMC costs around USD 4 – 5 USD. Make sure you have made a deal before sitting on a trishaw. Some scams have happened that trishaw drivers ask for more money half way. In this case, try to be tough or ask for help from local Vietnamese people.
- 1 bowl of noodle soup or a plate of spring rolls at Pho 24 shops, Pho 2000, or moderate restaurants costs around USD 2.5
- 1 bowl of noodle soup or a plate of spring rolls at street shops costs around USD 1.5 – USD 2
- 1 drink of local beers or soft drinks at Pho 24 shops, Pho 2000 shops, or moderate restaurants costs around USD 1.5
- 1 drink of local beers or soft drinks at street shops costs around USD 1
- Printed T-shirts cost around USD 3/item; good knock-off T-shirt of famous brands costs around USD 5/item; good knock-off handbags of famous brands costs around USD 10 – USD 20; good knock-off wallets of famous brands costs around USD 10 – USD 20; good knock-off back bags of famous brands costs around USD 20 – USD 30; good knock-off suitcases of famous brands costs around USD 30 – USD 50; good knock-off watches of famous brands costs around USD 30 – USD 50;
Tipping is not expected in Vietnam, but it is enormously appreciated. For a person who earns US$50.00 per month, a US$1.00 tip is about half a day's wages. Upmarket hotels and some restaurants may levy a 5% service charge, but this may not make it to the staff. If you stay a couple of days in the same hotel, tip the staff who clean your room, if you can.
You should also consider tipping drivers and guides - after all, the time they spend on the road with you means time away from home and family. Typically, travellers on minibus tours will pool together to collect a communal tip to be split between the guide and driver. The amount per person depends on how big the group is. About US$3.00 – US$ 5 per day per tourist is standard.
It is considered proper to make a small donation at the end of a visit to a pagoda, a temple.