I am backpacking through all of these countries in August and want to know if people would advise taking US dollars for the whole trip or taking a bit of each currency to get me through the first 1-2 days in each country and then change/withdraw more money into that currency??
Really looking to know what is the best for ease and getting more for your money.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Check out the FAQ sections for Laos and Cambodia under "money madness" to get some good information and suggestions on managing your cash in those countries. (Somtam, is there an FAQ section for Vietnam yet or not?)
The last few times I was in Laos, I was hearing prices quoted in Thai Baht more than anything else, although the hotels still seemed to quoting prices in US dollars. I'd try to take a mix of Thai Baht and US Dollars with me if possible to pay for larger purchases, and exchange a little bit into Lao Kip when you arrive to pay for smaller stuff like simple meals, fruit, tips and internet cafes. A few previous threads on this same topic have noted that nobody will buy your Lao Kip when you leave, so only exchange a bit at a time so you aren't stuck holding too much of that. There aren't ATMs in Laos, so it is important to pay attention to your cash on hand and make sure your money is stretching out as planned. I'd also want to have a few US dollar-denominated travellers checks and at least one credit card in case of the unexpected.
The last time I was in Cambodia, the US dollar was the standard currency for anything but the smallest of purchases, although that is starting to be awhile ago now. You'll typically pay for things in US dollars, so take lots of $1's and $5's with you if you can. Change is typically given in Cambodian Riel, which works out real fine most of the time, since you'll want a supply for small purchases, tips, etc. Like in Laos, I'd take the same mixture of cash with travellers check and credit card back up.
I've never been to Vietnam, so can't suggest anything there.
I hope this helps. Cheers.
Welcome to Travelfish!
There was a similar question about money management here, which you may want to check, and also the FAQ as mentioned by exacto -- who gives some pretty good advice...
Exacto -- Vietnam FAQ... hmmm, on the way -- I know it is on a to-do-list in this place somewhere ;-)
#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,652
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I always travel with US$ on me. I have found that prices and exchange rates are some times better when you pull out the US$. Just make sure you have new notes as some places wont accept old ones. there are ATM's in most places also. having a little of the local currency before you cross a border also helps when you are paying for visas or on going travel etc. have fun.