MONEY IN VIETNAM: currency exchange, bills, ATMs, banks, cards & tips to avoid scams.

March 20, 2019

MONEY IN VIETNAM: currency exchange, bills, ATMs, banks, cards & tips to avoid scams.


Tourists visiting Vietnam love to joke about walking away from the money changers as “instant millionaires”. The Vietnamese Dong (VND) comes in polymerized notes with multiple zeros, which denominated in bills of between 1000 and 500.000 dong.

By the way, here are some tips that you must scan to avoid mistakes in using Vietnam money:

  • Don’t mistake one bill to another

As if the multiple zeroes are not confusing enough, some Vietnamese Dong can look very similar with the untrained eyes. Many tourists have over paid with VND 100.000 bills mistaking them for the similarly greenish VND 10.000. Therefore, a tip to this is that when making purchases, do not just rely on the color of the bills. Instead, you had better double check on the number of zero (0) on them.

  • Polymer notes stick

The Vietnamese banknotes are made of long-lasting polymer, not paper and these plastic notes can stick together, presenting another risk you’ll overpay for your goods. Flick or peel your notes carefully when paying for a purchase.

  • Avoid paying high-denomination bills

Very few vendors will willingly change your VND 500,000, so make sure you’re carrying smaller bills when going shopping.


Yes, it is widely accepted by many hotels, shops and restaurants, but not all. It is advisable for you to keep the Dong currency in cash which it is more convenient to make purchases at the local markets and street vendors.


The Vietnamese Dong is highly recommended. Because while many shops or restaurants accept your payment in USD, the downside to this is that the prices will be converted from Dong currency at the vendors’ chosen exchange rate, which maybe not nearest to the official one and always to their advantage, so the cost is more expensive than paying in the Vietnamese Dong.


First of all, keep in mind that you will get a better exchange rate when you change your own money in Vietnam rather than in your country. In Vietnam, some currencies easily converted are US dollars, Pounds, Euros, Australian dollars and so on.

Here are some places that have good services of money exchange in Vietnam:

At the banks – They include Vietcombank, Agribank, VID Public Bank, Vietnam Eximbank, etc. Among the banks, the government – run Vietcombank is the first popular commercial bank in Vietnam dealing with foreign currencies with best exchange rate offer; moreover, it has many branches in Vietnam:

  • In Hanoi:

Headquarter: 78 Nguyen Du, Hoan Kiem Dist, Ha Noi

  • In Ho Chi Minh:

Address: 29 Ben Chuong Duong, Dist.1, HCM city

  • In Da Nang:

Address: 140 – 142 Le Loi, Hai Chau Dist, Da Nang

Vietcombank can exchange the Dong currency for US dollars, Euros, British Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht and Singapore dollars. You will be charged a commission rate of 0.5 – 2% for the latter.

When making trades at the banks, it’s really important to point out that:

  • A passport and immigration visa is required
  • You need to go during business hours which are from 8:00 to 11:30 and from 13:00 to 16:00 through Monday to Friday
  • Avoid lunch hours of 11:30 to 13:00
  • Notes should not be damaged or written on as you will be extra charged 2% of the note’s face value

At the gold and jewelry shops – Converting money at gold shops, while it’s illegal, is much simpler than at the banks. No forms to fill out. No passport required. The exchange rates can be surprisingly fair with no fees. It’s a straight swap. Gold and jewelry shops in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, especially Hang Bo and Ha Trung streets, and in Ho Chi Minh City’s Nguyen An Ninh St (near Ben Thanh Market) offer great deals for money exchange.

At the hotels – Most hotels will change money with their guests at the hotel’s reception. Your mileage may depend on which kind of hotel: larger hotels can offer more competitive rates with banks than the smaller.

At the airport – Currency exchange booths can be easily found at the airports. At Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN), you can make trades at both the arrival and departure hall. However, the airport exchange rate may be competitive when compared with the rates at stores and gold shops around the cities. For more information, you can check our post ARRIVAL TIPS AT TAN SON NHAT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (HO CHI MINH CITY)  


  • You should know what the current exchange rate of money you tend to convert. Try to download some currency apps found on your smart phone or even check the exchange rate in Vietnam on websites of banks which have been mentioned above. At least, the information will make you aware of what you are offered should be reasonably close to it.
  • Keep in mind that torn and tatty money is not accepted in Vietnam when exchanging. Make sure that your banknotes are clean, undamaged and not written on.
  • Make sure the notes you receive are also in good condition or even no small problems on them. If you are given damaged banknotes, you can go to a bank and exchange them for new ones with a nominal fee.
  • Spend all your Vietnamese Dong or exchange them into your home currency before leaving the city. It’s illegal to take Dong currency out of Vietnam.
  • It’s better for you not to change much money in one transaction. Because the Dong notes will take up more space in your wallet than your own currency. Here are some living costs in Vietnam, which may help you estimate the price you’ll have to pay for goods. Firstly, cost of accommodation usually between 100,000 VND to 400,000 VND for a basic room and higher price for higher standard. Secondly, about food and drink, you can easily find a rice dish with reasonable price between 20,000 VND to 35,000 VND in most of local restaurants. By the way, a liter of water is less than 20,000 VND and can be bought in any convenient stores. Moreover, with 20,000 VND, you can buy other favorite Vietnamese drinks.

If you are confusing how much you should bring along, check out our post HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU NEED FOR VIETNAM TRIP?

  • Do not change your money on the black market. They offer you better rates but easily beat by the official rates from banks, so you should avoid from being a victim of a scam when trading in the black market. If you want to know more common scams in Vietnam, read our blog TAXI, XICH LO, BUS, BIKE, MOTOBIKE TOUR – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW TO AVOID SCAM


  • Where to find ATMs – In the present, ATMs located everywhere in big cities like Saigon, Da Nang, Hanoi, especially around tourist zones. ATMs in Vietnam open 24/7 and make all transaction in Dong – Vietnam currency. Google Maps will be your best tool to find the nearest ATMs to you. The other way is to look up the aforementioned banks on Google and you will be able to locate their ATMs.
  • Withdrawal fee and limited of each banks – ATMs commonly but fees will be applied and maximum withdrawal rates are very low. Some ATMs do not tell you the fee charged when withdrawing cash, you will simply see a message saying: “Fees will be applied”. If you have the option, avoid these and look for a bank that is transparent about their charges.


In Vietnam, credit/debit cards are widely accepted in tourist site, hotel, restaurants, shopping mall, etc. Sometime taxis also have a credit card machine. However, for some services, you should check and make sure there is a sign of cards acceptance or ask the staff in advance. Keep in mind, sidewalk stalls won’t accept cards so you must carry some cash.

  • Make a notice to your card provider. Having credits card for emergencies is absolutely a smart backup plan. Make sure to inform to your card provider about your plan to go oversea as you don’t want your card to be suspended or locked due to unusual payments. Remember to note down your card provider’s contact so that you can make a call if there is a problem.
  • A surcharge may be applied. Being aware of an unstable charge may be added as a commission, which establishment has to return to the banks receivables. The charge is usually about 3% – 4% (or 1 – 3 dollars


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