Meet the Dong, the Vietnamese currency :
Dong Notes :
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.
I personally experience Saigon to be 10 to 20 % cheaper than Bangkok.
Here is a list of common prices in Saigon city in 2024 :
|In Dong||In U.S dollars,
|Big Mac meal at Mac Donald’s||100,000 Dong||4 $|
|Simple meal in a restaurant with drink||150,000 Dong||6 $|
|Natural orange juice, from street vendor||30,000 Dong||1 $|
|Coconut, from street vendor||40,000 Dong||2 $|
|Beer in a club||80,000 Dong||3 $|
|Beer (local) at supermarket||30,000 Dong||1 $|
|Cappuccino in Starbucks style café (small)||80,000 Dong||3 $|
|Breakfast at backpacker’s area (eggs, coffee…)||70,000 Dong||3 $|
|Individual room in a guest house in the backpacker’s area with air condition and bathroom||650,000 Dong||27 $|
|Bus in town||10,000 Dong||0.5 $|
|Taxi in town – typical ride with taxi-meter||60,000 Dong||2 $|
|One day organized trip out of Saigon (Cu Chi tunnels…)||130,000 Dong||6 $|
|Night train (sleeping coach) from Hanoi or Saigon to middle Vietnam (Danang)||700,000 Dong||30 $|
|T-Shirt at the market||200,000 Dong||9 $|
|Price of a Pre-paid Internet package in Vietnam + local SIM, see the page about the Internet.|
- 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).
From my experience, the foreign banks like HSBC and Citi, let you withdraw more cash in a single withdrawal, compared to the Vietnamese branches.
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 some cheap 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.
There are also kiosks of change money in some malls :
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.
- See a hidden pocket on Amazon
- How to Visit Vietnam ? – Transport, Best Time, Priorities…
- How to Reserve : Trains, Buses and Flights in Vietnam ?
- How much does it Cost to Visit Vietnam? Common Prices
- How to get a Visa for Vietnam ?
- Where to Stay, What to Visit, How to Arrive to :
- How is the Internet in Vietnam ?
- Is it Safe to visit Vietnam?
- What to Pack for the trip to Vietnam ?
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