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.
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”.