Vietnamese currency

The official Vietnamese currency is the Vietnam Dong (abbreviated “VND” or just“₫”). Here, we use both coins and paper notes.

Vietnamese coins include VND 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500 and 200.

Recently, using of coins becomes less and less popular, and as of June 2013, metal currency almost disappears in the market. I think the reasons may be:

  • There’s no automatic selling machine to use coins, so what they’re useful for?
  • Aged-looking or rusted appearance of coins make them naturally unattractive;
  • Price hikes make it hard for people to keep and use small-value coins in trading;
  • Metal values have paper note equivalences and people prefer to use note because of the latter’s convenience. 

Despite the unpopularity of coin uses, I believe you can still get some at banks for your money collection hobby.

Vietnamese paper notes include denominations: VND 500,000; 200,000; 100,000; 50,000; 20,000; 10,000 (in polymer). These are colorful, durable, and difficult to counterfeit.

All of polymer notes are waterproof, which means you no longer have to worry that you forgot a 100,000 note in your board-shorts and went for a ride, or put them in washing machine…

Notes of smaller values as VND 5,000; 2,000; 1,000; 500; and 200 are all in the old normal paper notes. In fact, currently I rarely see 500 and 200 notes. Perhaps, small changes now are only for donation or origami folding purposes.

Take a look at below picture of our paper notes, you can see that all have photo of the late president Ho Chi Minh.

Foreigners, especially those from developed countries (with high value currencies) may get surprised at big denomination of Vietnam bank notes. You might wonder why there’re so many zeroes on every note. 

Value of Vietnamese notes is relatively low compared to that of strong currencies. To give an illustration, an USD equal to nearly VND20,000. That means, I need about VND100,000, says one hundred thousand, to buy a KFC meal. To us Vietnamese, a few thousands or even millions of money unit is quite normal, not a big deal at all. 

That’s only matter of number; in fact the cost of living in Vietnam is pretty cheap. For instance, a conventional budget traveler can live it up from US$25 to US$35 a day. For only US$1USD you can buy a bow of noodle (pho) on a street stall, OR 2 bottles of fresh water, OR 4 coconut cookies, OR a sandwich, OR 2 cups of sugarcane juice. Isn’t it so cheap? Yeah, I believe.

Exchanging cash 

Visitors can exchange traveler’s checks, US Dollars, and Euro for Vietnamese Dong in banks, exchange bureaus, hotels, and jewelry shops. 

It’s a little interesting that American dollars and Euros (EUR) are welcome at almost all urban places. 

When leaving the country, your remaining Vietnamese currency can be reconverted into US dollars or other currencies at an exchange bureau at international airports.

Cash and cards 

Credit cards (American Express, Visa, Mastercard) have become more and more popular in Vietnam, especially in big cities like Hochiminh and Hanoi. 

Major hotels, high class shops and restaurants accept credit cards. Yet, most shops and supermarkets still prefer cash. 

Before you travel to Vietnam, you should inform your credit card company in advance of your plans to travel overseas. 

Ten years ago there were only a few places to access your cash via an ATM, now they are almost ubiquitous.

You can use the ATM locators below to find ATM machines in Vietnam.

You can also find easily ATM of some of big foreign banks (click the links to open in a new window):

Converter for Vietnamese Currency 

To help you have a glimpse of how much is exchange rate among Vietnamese Dong and other popular currencies; I show the below table the round-up rates, as of June 9, 2013.

You can see updated current rate at website of Vietcombank  (Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam).


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