How much does it cost to Visit Vietnam ?

Meet the Dong, the Vietnamese currency :

Dong Notes :

note vietnam 500,000 Dong
note vietnam 200,000 Dong
note vietnam 100,000 Dong
note vietnam 50,000 Dong
note vietnam 20,000 Dong
note vietnam 10,000 Dong
note vietnam 5,000 Dong
note vietnam 2,000 Dong
note vietnam 1,000 Dong
note vietnam 500 Dong

Note 1: There are no Vietnamese Coins, only notes. that’s cool, the wallet doesn’t weight much.
Note 2 : The U.S dollar is a common currency in Vietnam. At the hotel, the price is usually stated in U.S dollars and the default is to pay in U.S dollars.
If you will choose to pay in Dongs, you will loose a little bit because the hotels use un unfavorable exchange rate for the client.

How much does it cost to Visit Vietnam ?

Vietnam is relatively, a cheap tourist destination. All South East Asia
countries give a very good value for your money. Saigon and Hanoi are big cities and accommodation is usually a little bit more expensive than other places in Vietnam. According to Numbeo, in 2017, Vietnam is in position 85 on a worldwide classification of cost of living, which is similar to countries like : Thailand, Peru,
Russia, Turkey. I personally experience Saigon to be 10 to 20 % cheaper than Bangkok.
Here is a list of common prices in Saigon city in 2018 :

in Dong
year 2018
In U.S dollars,
(Approximately) year 2018
Big Mac meal at Mac Donald’s 90,000 Dong $
Simple meal in a restaurant with drink 110,000 Dong $
Natural orange juice, from street vendor 10,000 Dong 0.5 $
Coconut, from street vendor 20,000 Dong  1  $
Beer in a club 70,000 Dong $
Beer (local) at supermarket 15,000 Dong 0.7  $
Cappucino in Starbucks style café (small) 70,000 Dong $
Breakfast at backpacker’s area (eggs, coffee…) 50,000 Dong 2.2  $
Individual room in a guest house in the backpacker’s area with air condition and bathroom 650,000 Dong 28 $
Bus in town 7,000 Dong 0.3  $
Taxi in town – typical ride with taxi-meter 40,000 Dong 1.8  $
One day organized trip out of Saigon (Cu Chi tunnels…) 130,000 Dong $
Night train (sleeping coach) from Hanoi or Saigon to middle Vietnam (Danang) 700,000 Dong 30 $
T-Shirt at the market 130,000 Dong 6 $
  • You can use XE Currency Converter to get the prices in your local currency.
  • You can use Numbeo to compare the cost of living between many cities in the world (from the menu “cost of living”, choose : “cost of living comparison”).

ATM in Saigon and Hanoi

There are a lot of them in town. Go to a big mall (like Vincom in Saigon) and you will feel safe to withdraw the cash (but also in the streets, it’s OK). With an international credit card you can get Dongs from these machines.
The banks involved in the transactions (hopefully, just 2) will take
commissions in the process : The Vietnamese bank takes around 40,000 Dong commission.
Your bank in your own country will probably charge a fixed commission for each withdrawal and an exchange rate commission depending on the amount you withdraw.
I once calculated that for a typical withdrawal, I was losing almost 7 % of my money on commissions, but maybe it is just my bank, maybe yours is better (I doubt it, they all take a lot of commissions, because they can).
atm saigon

Currency Exchange in Saigon and Hanoi

The most common way to exchange currency is inside a branch of a bank.
They don’t use to take a fix commission. At the airport, there are, of course, “change money” stands. They don’t take (fixed) commissions.
Note that you will need your passport in order to exchange money, and in Vietnam the hotels like to keep your passport at the reception (unless you pay everything in advance), so ask for your passport before you go to change money.
atm saigon
There are also kiosks of change money in some malls :
atm saigon

Use ATM or bring cash to Vietnam ?

You need to find an equilibrium between these two.
The ATMs are very safe and convenient but the banks charge commissions for each withdrawal. Bringing Dollars in cash (or other currencies) will leave you more of your money, but it is unsafe because of the risk of theft and loss.
Anyway, you need to bring some cash with you, as a backup, for any case.
Try to stay in hotels that have a safe box in the room or at the
When you withdraw money from the ATM, do it for a medium or large sum because each withdrawal has a fixed commission.

How to carry the cash during the trip

I recommend this type of Hidden Pocket. You hang it vertically on your belt (yes, you need a belt) and inside your trousers. Nobody sees it and it is very comfortable because one side is made with a soft tissue.
There are 2 strong loops, so it is very safe. I have two of these because sometimes I travel for a long period and it gets thick, so I
divide the cash and put one pocket on each side. You can buy this hidden pocket on Amazon, they ship it worldwide.

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star See Important Products for the Trip Hidden pocket to carry cash, padlock,  Universal plug adaptor…

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