Vietnam Country Guide


Vietnamese Currency
The national currency is the dong (VND), which is difficult to find or exchange outside Vietnam - change for the dong 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 USD1 dollar fetching over 21,000 dong in February 2012. 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.

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Exchanging Dong
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. Easiest is to spend all your dongs before leaving Vietnam.

Shoe shop in Hanoi by Northboer

Most visitors opt to keep the bulk of their cash in U.S. dollars and exchange or withdraw dong as needed. USD50 and USD100 notes usually get a higher exchange rate than notes of lower denominations. There is often a considerable spread in the 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 besides U.S. dollars such as Sterling, Yen, Swiss Francs and Euro 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.

Diamond Plaza in Ho Chi Minh City by WiNG

Leaving Vietnam
On m
ost land borders connecting to Cambodia, China and Laos, there are freelance moneychangers to take care of your leftover dongs, but be assured they'll get the better of you if you don't know the going rate. Travellers departing from Hanoi airport, there are no money exchange establishments once you pass immigration. So exchange your dong before you enter the departure hall unless you plan to shop.

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