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Vietnam forum

a money nightmare??

Posted by dazm26 on 23/1/2008 at 19:19

Hiya guys,

In 3 weeks i embark on a solo trip from Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand-Malaysia and finally Singapore.

I am taking some USD cash, travellers cheques, debit card and a credit card (for emergencies)

I am on the understanding that in both Vietnam and Cambodia US Dollars is the preferred currency and this has got me thinking...........Am i right in saying that in order to purhcase anything, id need to work out what the price is is say Dong (vietnam) the relevant US Dollars and i believe they usually give change in local currency so id need to work out what i should be getting back change wise..............this seems i far off the mark with this?? Any tips on what yo guys do would be greatly, drunk working currencys out is gonna be tough!

Thankyou guys


#1 dazm26 has been a member since 28/9/2007. Posts: 19

Posted by daawgon on 24/1/2008 at 03:02

I think all of us will have some difficulty adjusting to currency issues in SEA, but don't freak out! No, I think you are mistaken as far as US dollars are concerned. For Vietnam, the dollar is accepted (as long as it's in good condition), but you will get better prices if you use the Dong. Perhaps some of these countries use travelers checks, but I know that it's costly and not frequently used in Vietnam. I plan to take less than US$50. in small bills, and then to use my debit card at the many ATMs in country. I am warned that my Visa Plus debit will not work in all ATMs, but I have already checked at the Visa website for a list of locations that do accept it (hundreds, but mainly in the cities of some size.) I'm taking credit cards too, but will only use these for hotel bills over $75. or domestic travel/tours over $50.

I'm curious, how long will you be in each country? I'll be in Vietnam only for a total of 25 days.

#2 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,151
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Posted by exacto on 24/1/2008 at 05:18


If you haven't yet, read the "How to manage your money" article in the features section on the website.
The feature will likely answer most of the questions and concerns you have as well as give you lots of other tips on managing your cash while on holiday.

For those late night, already had a few beers situations, try keeping a good variety of local currency on hand and pay with exact change or as close to exact change as possible. For example, in Thailand, if the bill comes to 280 baht, I try to pay with three 100 baht notes instead of a 500 baht note. This greatly reduces the chance of a change-related problem occuring.

Have a fun trip. Cheers.

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by vuh on 25/1/2008 at 16:41

Hello dazm26,
After 6 months in South East Asia, I would recommend to have a credit card or better, you can have a card with a logo Plus (blue sign) because the drawing fees are lower.
Otherwise, there are ATM everywhere in these countries and except Cambodia, in all of those countries, it is better to have local bills but you don't need to buy them before getting into the country.
Of course, wiht a not of 100 USD, you can have a better rate. You can even have EURO which is even easier to change than USD. Swiss Franc is also well accepted.
In Cambodia, the sole country where you can paid both in USD and Riel. Every hotel required payments in USD as well as entrance fees for Angkor Temples.

Do not bring back local notes, try to estimate your expenses at your last days in the country.

You will see, you will get used to these currencies.


#4 vuh has been a member since 1/5/2007. Posts: 24

Posted by CatBa on 29/1/2008 at 07:25

Posted from within Vietnam.

Always check to see if departure taxes are included in your air tickets.

If not, you can use local currency to pay this off.

#5 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349

Posted by travworld on 30/1/2008 at 08:08

I was staying in Tamky or perhaps Tam Ky which is in Quang Nam Province . I had no problem with atms but some of the smaller banks are not linked to Intl banks , And they will charge you about 45 cents usd for with drawal , my bank stateside started xharging me a hefty intl fee , so check to make sure its not a problem . Also use vnd whenever possible as usd can be not needed . It can be a bit hard when you pay for say a dinner and it costs you like 20,000 vnd which is only about 1.40 usd . feels weird walking around with 1 million vnd in your pocket , but hay its only like 65.00 usd. I was in Tamky July 1 2007 till septmeber 2 2007

#6 travworld has been a member since 9/7/2007. Location: United States. Posts: 23
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Posted by celianz on 30/1/2008 at 14:28

Posted from within Vietnam.

Good to note that in Cambodia ATMs dispense in US$ but in Vietnam it dispenses in Dong; Thailand in Baht. This is good because although your bank will charge you for withdrawl you can top up your US$ from the ATM in Cambodia. We have travelled only with local currencies and US $ and bank cards and have been fine (always have had a spare stash too). I didn't pay for much at all in Malaysia in US$, always Ringgit. Thailand Baht everywhere, though we used a lot of small US$ in the markets (you can never bring enough US$ 1 & 5's)!

#7 celianz has been a member since 15/12/2007. Posts: 16

Posted by celianz on 12/2/2008 at 10:24

Oh, and don't forget to change all your dong before you leave, no one will exchange it. Did not see any exchange booths at the airport Hanoi either, which is what we were counting, we are stuck with quite a bit of dong and will hopefully find some travellers in Laos who might want to exchange with us!!

#8 celianz has been a member since 15/12/2007. Posts: 16

Posted by CatBa on 13/2/2008 at 23:10

Posted from within Vietnam.

There are money exchange desks at all airports - usually in arrivals.

ABOUT BEER / DRINKS. Some of the worst bars rip you off by charging you for drinks never delivered. PAY FOR EACH DRINK AS IT IS DELIVERED thereby avoiding hassles which occasionally end in assaults, etc.

#9 CatBa has been a member since 5/3/2007. Posts: 349

Posted by Ashe88 on 11/3/2008 at 18:16

I didn't study up too much before I left and it was all a lot easier than I anticipated. I took USD on an ATM card which spat out of ATMs as dong and my bro took USD cash. You can combine them however you like, after 3 days we felt like pros converting the costs in our head and bargaining!

#10 Ashe88 has been a member since 19/11/2007. Posts: 24

Posted by daawgon on 9/4/2008 at 01:41

I just returned from my trip, and am happy to report that currency is no biggie at all! I used Dong almost exclusively, and by doing so, I saved money. It is my belief that many merchants would prefer for you to use dollars because you will be overspending! Just insist on using the Dong and you will have no problem. For instance, the Vietnam Airlines bus from central Hanoi to the airport has a price of 25,000 VND or $2. (since the dollar is roughly 16,000 VND, this would mean you'd be paying 32,000 VND). Hanoi airport was indeed a problem for me when departing. I only remembered to change currency once I had passed through immigration, and there are no exchanges in that section. I was lucky to find a Duty Free merchant who was willing to make the exchange at no cost to me - thank you!

#11 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,151
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