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Vietnam Currency: Vietnamese Dong Exchange, Using ATMs in Vietnam

April 05, 2024

Vietnam, a country known for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, is also home to a unique currency system that reflects its economic journey over the years. Understanding the intricacies of Vietnam’s currency is essential for travelers looking to make the most of their visit to this beautiful Southeast Asian nation. In this detailed guide, we will delve into the history of Vietnam currency, explore the Vietnamese Dong, discuss where to exchange money in Vietnam, provide insights on using ATMs and international debit/credit cards, offer useful tips for payment and currency exchange, and conclude with key takeaways for a seamless financial experience in Vietnam.

Vietnam currency denomination

Vietnam currency denomination

The History of Vietnam Currency

Colonial Influences on Vietnamese Currency

The history of Vietnam’s currency is a fascinating tale that intertwines with the country’s colonial past and struggle for independence. Before delving into the modern Vietnamese Dong, it is crucial to understand the historical context that shaped the evolution of currency in Vietnam.

French Indochinese Piastre Era (1885-1952): During the period of French colonization, Vietnam was part of French Indochina, along with Laos and Cambodia. The French introduced the Indochinese Piastre as the official currency, which was used across the region. The Piastre was subdivided into cents, with various denominations in circulation.

Japanese Occupation and Vietnamese Revolutionary Currencies: Following the Japanese occupation during World War II, Vietnam witnessed the emergence of revolutionary currencies issued by different factions fighting for independence. These currencies reflected the turbulent political landscape of the time and highlighted the struggle for self-determination.

Establishment of the Vietnamese Dong: After gaining independence from colonial rule, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam introduced the first Vietnamese Dong in 1946. Over the years, the Dong underwent several reforms and adjustments to stabilize the economy and facilitate trade within the country and internationally.

Modernization and Stability of the Vietnamese Dong

In the contemporary era, the Vietnamese Dong (VND) remains the official currency of Vietnam, symbolizing the country’s economic progress and stability. The State Bank of Vietnam regulates the issuance and circulation of the Dong, ensuring monetary policy alignment with national economic goals.

Denominations of Vietnamese Dong: The Vietnamese Dong is available in various denominations. Common banknote denominations range from small values like 1,000 VND to higher values such as 500,000 VND, each featuring distinct designs and security features to prevent counterfeiting.

Exchange Rates and International Recognition: While the Vietnamese Dong is primarily used within the country, its exchange rates against major foreign currencies, such as the US Dollar and Euro, fluctuate based on market conditions. Foreign exchange services are widely available in Vietnam, enabling travelers to convert their currency with ease.

Economic Impact and Future Prospects: The value of the Vietnamese Dong plays a crucial role in shaping Vietnam’s economic landscape, influencing factors such as inflation, trade competitiveness, and foreign investment. As Vietnam continues to attract global attention for its growing economy, the stability of the Dong remains vital for sustained growth and development.

Where To Exchange Money in Vietnam

Currency Exchange Services

When traveling to Vietnam, one of the primary concerns for visitors is exchanging their currency for Vietnamese Dong. Several options are available for currency exchange, ranging from banks and authorized exchange counters to hotels and airports.

Authorized Banks and Exchange Counters: Banks and licensed exchange counters are reliable places to exchange currency in Vietnam, offering competitive rates and secure transactions. It is advisable to compare rates across different institutions to ensure favorable exchanges without excessive fees.

Airport and Hotel Exchanges: Airports and hotels in major cities across Vietnam provide currency exchange services for the convenience of travelers. While these options offer accessibility, they may have slightly higher exchange rates or service fees compared to banks or independent exchange offices.

Online Currency Exchange Platforms

In the digital age, online currency exchange platforms have gained popularity among travelers seeking convenient and cost-effective ways to convert their money. These platforms allow users to exchange currency at competitive rates and often offer delivery services for added convenience.

Benefits of Online Currency Exchange: Online currency exchange platforms offer benefits such as competitive exchange rates, transparency in fees, and the flexibility to exchange currency anytime, anywhere. Additionally, some platforms provide real-time rate updates and secure payment options for peace of mind.

Considerations for Online Exchanges: Before using an online currency exchange platform, travelers should research reputable providers, verify security measures for data protection, and review customer feedback to ensure a reliable and trustworthy service. It is essential to exercise caution when sharing personal and financial information online.

Local Markets and Street Vendors

In addition to formal exchange services, travelers in Vietnam may encounter local markets and street vendors offering currency exchange services. While these informal options may seem convenient, it is important to exercise caution and verify the authenticity of transactions to avoid potential scams or counterfeit currency.

Tips for Exchanging Money Locally: When considering local markets or street vendors for currency exchange, travelers should be vigilant and confirm exchange rates in advance. It is advisable to exchange money in well-established locations with a reputation for honest and fair dealings to minimize risks of fraud or financial loss.

Using ATMs in Vietnam

Accessibility and Convenience of ATMs

ATMs are widely available throughout Vietnam, especially in urban centers and popular tourist destinations, offering convenient access to cash withdrawals for travelers. Understanding how to use ATMs in Vietnam can enhance the overall financial experience and provide flexibility during your stay.

Major ATM Networks in Vietnam: Vietnam hosts several prominent ATM networks, including Vietcombank, Techcombank, and VietinBank, among others, which operate ATMs across the country. These networks support international card transactions and provide instructions in multiple languages for user convenience.

Transaction Fees and Withdrawal Limits: When using ATMs in Vietnam, travelers should be aware of transaction fees charged by both the local bank and their home bank for withdrawals. Additionally, ATM withdrawal limits may vary depending on the bank and card type, so it is advisable to check these details beforehand to avoid any surprises.

Security Measures and Precautions

While ATMs offer a convenient way to access cash, it is essential to prioritize security when using these machines in unfamiliar locations. By following recommended safety precautions and being vigilant during transactions, travelers can safeguard their financial information and minimize risks of fraud.

Tips for Secure ATM Usage: To ensure a safe ATM experience in Vietnam, travelers should choose ATMs located in well-lit and populated areas, shield their PIN while entering it, and refrain from accepting assistance from strangers. Regularly monitoring bank statements for unauthorized transactions is also recommended to detect any suspicious activity promptly.

Emergency Assistance and Lost Cards: In the event of a lost or stolen card while using ATMs in Vietnam, travelers should contact their bank immediately to report the incident and request card cancellation or replacement. Most banks offer 24/7 customer support services to assist customers facing card-related emergencies.

Using International Debit/Credit Cards in Vietnam

Acceptance of Debit/Credit Cards

The widespread acceptance of international debit and credit cards in Vietnam has made electronic payments increasingly common, providing travelers with a convenient alternative to cash transactions. Understanding the usage of cards in different establishments can streamline payment processes and enhance financial efficiency.

Card Usage in Hotels and Restaurants: Hotels, restaurants, and upscale establishments in Vietnam typically accept international debit and credit cards for payments, offering convenience to travelers seeking cashless transactions. However, it is advisable to inquire about card acceptance policies before making purchases to avoid any unexpected issues.

Retail Stores and Shopping Centers: Retail stores, shopping centers, and supermarkets in urban areas of Vietnam often welcome debit and credit card payments, allowing shoppers to make purchases without the need for physical cash. Contactless payment options and secure card terminals contribute to a seamless shopping experience for customers.

Currency Conversion and Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)

When using international debit or credit cards in Vietnam, travelers may encounter currency conversion options at point-of-sale terminals, including Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). Understanding the implications of currency conversion choices can help individuals make informed decisions during transactions.

DCC Considerations: Dynamic Currency Conversion allows cardholders to pay in their home currency instead of the local currency, potentially offering greater transparency in exchange rates. However, DCC may involve additional fees or less favorable conversion rates, leading to higher transaction costs for consumers.

Opting for Local Currency: Opting to pay in the local currency (Vietnamese Dong) rather than choosing Dynamic Currency Conversion can help travelers avoid extra charges and ensure competitive exchange rates. By selecting local currency, individuals can benefit from more cost-effective transactions and greater control over their spending.

Useful Tips for Payment and Exchanging Currency in Vietnam

Cultural Etiquette and Tipping Practices

When engaging in financial transactions in Vietnam, it is essential to be mindful of cultural etiquette and tipping practices to show respect and appreciation. Tipping customs vary across different settings, with guidelines suggesting modest gratuities for services rendered.

  • Tipping Guidelines: In restaurants, a tip of 5-10% of the total bill is customary if a service charge is not included. For other services like tour guides or drivers, tipping amounts may vary based on the quality of service provided.
  • Respecting Local Customs: Understanding local customs and traditions can enhance interactions with vendors, service providers, and residents, fostering positive experiences and cultural exchange during your visit.

Budgeting and Financial Planning

Creating a comprehensive budget and financial plan before traveling to Vietnam can help visitors manage expenses effectively and make informed decisions regarding currency exchange, payments, and purchases. By setting realistic financial goals and monitoring expenditures, travelers can optimize their financial resources throughout their trip.

  • Budget Allocation: Allocate funds for accommodation, transportation, meals, activities, and souvenirs to ensure a balanced expenditure distribution and avoid overspending in specific areas.
  • Emergency Funds: Set aside emergency funds in both local currency and a reserve of foreign currency or traveler’s checks to address unforeseen circumstances or financial emergencies during your travels.

Communication and Language Support

Effective communication plays a crucial role in navigating financial transactions and currency exchange processes in Vietnam. Familiarizing yourself with basic Vietnamese phrases related to money, numbers, and transactions can facilitate interactions with locals and service providers, enhancing overall convenience and clarity.

  • Essential Phrases: Learn key phrases such as “How much does this cost?” (“Bao nhiêu tiền?”), “Can I pay with a card?” (“Tôi có thể thanh toán bằng thẻ không?”), and “Where is the nearest ATM?” (“Máy rút tiền gần nhất ở đâu?”) to communicate effectively during financial transactions.


Navigating the realm of currency exchange and financial transactions in Vietnam requires a blend of preparation, awareness, and adaptability. From exploring the historical roots of the Vietnamese Dong to leveraging modern banking facilities and payment methods, travelers can enhance their financial experiences and make the most of their visits to this captivating country. By understanding the nuances of Vietnam’s currency system, embracing diverse payment options, and following practical tips for currency exchange and transactions, visitors can embark on a seamless journey filled with cultural discoveries, culinary delights, and unforgettable memories in Vietnam. Whether strolling through bustling markets, savoring local delicacies, or immersing in the country’s rich heritage, a well-informed approach to managing finances adds a layer of convenience and confidence to every adventure in Vietnam.