Economic

Currency

The offcial currency of Vietnam is the Dong and it fuctuates around VND22,300 to the US Dollar. The notes are quite colourful and notes made after 2003 are made out of plastic polymer. The denominations are 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000. As with most modern banknotes, there are safeguards in place against counterfeiting. To check if you have an authentic note, check the transparent window to see the hidden image. Also, most counterfeit notes do not have the same feel as the plastic polymer. Local insight: The VND20,000 and VND500,000 are so similar in colour. Remember that the VND500,000 note is just a bit larger.

ATMS

Most major foreign-issued credit and debit cards are accepted at ATMs in HCMC. Travellers can access Plus and Cirrus networks via HSBC, Vietcombank and ANZ ATM machines and many others. The standard withdrawal limit may be very low but you should be able to withdraw several times up to your home maximum. Use common sense when withdrawing money. Key in your PIN inconspicuously and keep to well-lit, frequented cash terminals. These ATMs are
commonly found inside major banks, western-style grocery stores and hotels, or on busy streets. More often than not, ATMs will issue notes in VND500,000 denominations, which can be frustrating if you intend to pay for a motorcycle taxi ride or a road-side bowl of noodles.
Local insight: To get around the large denominations issued, request a non VND500,000 compatible cash withdrawal.

Debit & Credit Cards

Increasingly more and more businesses in Vietnam are now accepting credit cards, it is advisable to carry cash, especially at places where payment policy is unknown or vague. It is always good practice to make enquiries before assuming that your credit card will be accepted, as neither side wants to lose face at payment time. It is pretty much guaranteed that most luxury hotels in the major cities will accept credit cards. Some establishments add a 3% charge for credit card use and charge a higher user fee for holders of an American Express card.
Local insight: To avoid unnessary embarrassment make sure to contact your bank to let them know that you are travelling in the region, or your card may be blocked for “suspicious activity”.
 

Currency Exchange

US dollars are welcome in places frequented by tourists but you will most likely be offered a less than favourable rate. Most hotels offer the same rate as banks but may charge an extra fee. Though there are currency exchange shops in the tourist areas, head to a bank to get an offcial rate. Don’t exchange too much at one time as you will get a less than favourable rate when selling back your Dong. Generally larger bills like US $100 give a better rate than smaller notes like US $10 or US $5.
Ho Chi Minh City
Mai Van
1A Nguyen An Ninh, D1 08 3823 1836
Mon-Sat 8:30am-8:00pm & Sun 8:30am-12:00pm
Xuan Hung
161 Dong Khoi, D1 08 3827 6311
Ban Thu Doi Ngoai Te 59
135 Dong Khoi, D1 08 3823 1316
7:00am-10:00pm
Saigon Tourist
Saigon Tourist 45 Le Thanh Ton, D1 08 3827 9279
7:30am-6:30pm
Local insight: Make sure your foreign bank notes are clean and crisp with no tears or writing. They will not be accepted otherwise.
 

VAT

International travellers are entitled to obtain a refund that accounts for 85% of the 10% Value-Added Tax (VAT) on eligible goods that were purchased from a registered VAT refund shop, thanks to a pilot scheme that was introduced in 2012 and has been fne-tuned several times since.
In other words, this is the perfect opportunity for international travellers to get back some of that hardearned cash by buying goods at shops that offer VAT refunds. Whilst the procedure may only be worth it for large purchases, if you are planning to buy expensive items, it is a substantial saving.
According to the Ministry of Finance, VAT refunded goods must meet these four requirements:
  • Purchased goods must be subject to VAT, unused and allowed on aircraft Purchased goods must not appear on the list of export prohibitions or restrictions.
  • Purchased goods must have invoices and VAT refund declarations issued within 30 days of departure.
  • Purchased goods must be bought from a single shop on a single day and must have a value of at least VND2 million.
To get the VAT refund, follow this procedure:
When purchasing the goods, submit your passport to the retailer so they can create the VAT refund declaration form. They will issue you with the original copy but make sure to check that all your information is correct.
Once you are at the Tan Son Nhat airport, go to the VAT refund customs inspection offce where you will need to present the goods you have purchased, your passport, the invoices and the VAT declaration forms.
Once you’ve taken care of the paperwork to get your declaration form, you will need to submit a boarding pass from an international fight and invoices along with your VAT declaration form to the VAT refund counter.
This is where you will receive your refund. It will be in Vietnamese Dong so you will then have to go to a currency exchange. You will fnd BIDV and VietinBank exchanges in Tan Son Nhat.
VAT refunds are applicable only to goods brought along by tourists when they exit. For seaports, refund is only available if the ships go abroad directly from the ports. Keep in mind these ship voyages only occur thrice a year.

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Vietnam Visas

Most foreigners wishing to visit Vietnam need to apply for an entry visa in advance. The only exception is if your country has a bilateral consular agreement for visa exemptions. You can check on your government’s website to find if yours is one of the few that apply for this program. A recent change in policy has allowed international tourists a 30-day visa exemption if they enter Phu Quoc island by sea or through the international transit lounge at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City. ...

The code of conduct for tourists to Ho Chi Minh City

Welcome to Ho Chi Minh City, The code of conduct for tourists to Ho Chi Minh City

Things to be aware of when travelling

Everything Vietnamese food is delicious and you will want to try it all. Go ahead and buy a kilo of that strange looking
purple fruit, but be aware of hygiene when you’re eating street food. To be cautious, opt for vendors who already have customers. See also “Health” on page XIV...

Ho Chi Minh City Fact Sheet

Geographic coordinates: 10 11N 106 107E
Total area: 2,095.6km2
Coastline: 15km
Time: UTC/GMT + 7 hours
Climate: Rainy season from May to November
Dry season from December to April

Airline Listings in Ho Chi Minh City

You can find out all available airlines in Ho Chi Minh City here