Vietnam Currency Exchange Guide

Vietnam is a stunningly beautiful country that makes for an unforgettable tourist experience. From the emerald-green rice paddies of the western side to the cobalt blue waters of its eastern coastline, its endless cultural wonders admire and captivate visitors from all over the world. You can explore dramatic gorges and hidden caves in Phong Nha or tantalise your taste buds with Vietnam’s exotic delicacies. Regardless of if you are looking for adventure, relaxation or culinary exploration, Vietnam has something to offer every kind of traveller.

General Vietnam Currency Information

What is the currency of Vietnam?

The official currency of Vietnam is the Vietnamese dong (VND).

What do Vietnam notes & coins look like?

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Vietnam’s banknotes are quite distinct from many other currencies in that all of them feature the portrait of Ho Chi Minh on the front. The reverse side features a variety of images representative of Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. For example, the 200, 500, 1,000 and 2,000-dong notes depict the nation’s production of cotton fibre, the seaport of Haiphong, the coal mining industry and textile factories, respectively. On 10,000 dongs is an image honouring an offshore platform, while 20,000 dongs feature a covered bridge in Hội An.

There are also more opulent images featured on higher valued notes, such as the 50,000 dongs, which has an image of Huế. 100,000 dongs picture the Temple of Literature while 200,000 dongs show Hạ Long Bay, and 500,000 dongs portray Ho Chi Minh’s birthplace in Kim Liên. All these images reflect Vietnam’s pride in its history and culture, which makes the notes readily recognisable for both local people and international visitors travelling through their country.

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Current Vietnamese dong coins all feature the Vietnamese emblem on their obverse side, accompanied by the legend ‘STATE BANK OF VIETNAM’ and the denomination of the coin. For example, 5,000 dong coins have an image of the One Pillar Pagoda on their reverse side; 2,000 dong coins have a picture of the Communal House on Stilts; 1,000 dong coins have an image of the Đo Temple; 500 & 200 dong coins feature a traditional decorative pattern. While these coins remain in circulation, they are now quite rare and mainly out of circulation.

Economy

Vietnam’s economy is a unique combination of a socialist-orientated market economy. In 2020, it ranked 37th in the world by nominal GDP and 23rd by purchasing power parity (PPP). It has made significant strides in its globalization efforts, now participating as a member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Association of Southeast Asian Nations and World Trade Organization.

The agriculture sector has been essential for economic growth and food security. Apart from composing 14% of Vietnam’s GDP and 38% of employment, agriculture also generated an export revenue totalling US$48 billion despite ongoing COVID-19 challenges. Furthermore, it had an average annual growth rate of 2.5% to 3.5% over the past three decades.

Brief currency history

The Vietnamese dong entered the country in stages, beginning with an introduction to the North area in 1946. This replaced the piastra of French Indochina, followed by two revaluations in 1951 and 1958. In 1953, banknotes of both piastres and dongs were printed and used in South Vietnam.

After the fall of Saigon on 22nd September 1975, the currency was replaced by new dongs, and a full reunification occurred on 3rd May 1978. Unification brought about a change in conversion rates, equalling 1 dong of North Vietnam to 0.80 of South Vietnam.

The currency in Vietnam changed drastically between 1978 and 2006. The State Bank of Vietnam first issued notes in 1978 in denominations of 5 hao, 1 dong, 5 dongs, 10 dongs, 20 dongs, and 50 dongs. Followed by 30 dongs and 100 dongs in 1981 after the introduction of 2 dongs and 10 dongs a year before.

In 1985, economic uncertainty and inflation caused the currency to lose its worth rapidly. Consequently, these notes were withdrawn from circulation.

On 14th September 1985, this was again changed, with the dong being revalued at ten old dongs. This event caused an economic squeeze that lasted until the mid-90s.

In 1987, with persistent inflation, additional notes were issued in denominations of 200, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000. By 1990, notes with denominations of 10,000 and 50,000 had been released; and by 1991, the 20,000 VND note was made available.

In 1994 the 100,000 VND banknote followed suit, and the 500,000 VND note was introduced in 2003. The former series of notes often caused confusion due to their lack of consistent design and unified theme.

Because of these inconsistencies with the design, a series of notes were issued in 2003 with new cotton-polymer versions of the same denominations that are now distributed more commonly throughout the country. Currently, banknotes in denominations ranging from 100₫, 200₫, 500₫, 1,000₫, 2,000₫, 5,000₫, 10,000₫, 20,000₫, 50,000₫, 100,000₫, 200,000₫, and 500,000₫ are used for transactions in Vietnam.

Taking Travel Money to Vietnam

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What currency should I take to Vietnam?

If you’re travelling to Vietnam, you’ll need to exchange your Australian dollars (AUD) for Vietnamese dongs (VND) before you leave. Get more information on how you can exchange AUD to VND.

Is it better to convert currency in Australia or Vietnam?

Converting your Australian dollar (AUD) to Vietnamese currency (VND) in Australia before travelling is usually much more cost-effective than exchanging currency overseas. Plus, it’s a huge advantage for you to travel with pre-converted cash in hand, so you don’t have to worry about finding currency exchange services when you arrive.

How much can I take to Vietnam?

Travellers to Vietnam have to consider their cash allowance carefully. The country’s regulatory board has no upper limit on the amount of money allowed to be brought into the nation, but all sums that exceed 5,000 US dollars must be declared upon entry. This must all be accounted for before visitors initiate their trip and should not come as a surprise when they reach the Vietnamese borders. Therefore, travellers are advised to plan ahead to ensure that their trip goes smoothly.

Where to convert currency?

Crown Currency Exchange is a reliable, convenient and secure way to exchange currency in Australia. With more than 20 years in the business, we have a long-standing history of great customer service and satisfaction. Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, we offer competitive exchange rates with no hidden fees and commissions so you can get the best value for your money.

Is tipping customary in Vietnam? How much is expected?

In Vietnam, tipping is not ingrained as a common practice as in many western countries. However, tourists should be aware that leaving behind a tip will be greatly appreciated by locals. Here’s what you need to know about the etiquette of tipping in this amazing Southeast Asian country.

Tour Guide: If you’re taking a tour while visiting Vietnam, it’s polite to leave a tip of 10-15% of the cost of the tour. If there was an additional driver on your tour, consider giving them a similar amount or slightly less. If you went on a free walking tour, around $5 per person should be sufficient.

Restaurant: When dining out in Vietnam, leaving a 10% tip is customary if the service has been good. Some restaurants add an extra charge to the bill; however, none of this goes to the people serving you and doesn’t count as a tip. If the service has been good, it would be nice to leave an additional tip on top of that charge. 

Street Food: Street food vendors aren’t expecting tips for their services, so even a small amount will be massively appreciated by them! 10,000 VND – 20,000 VND (around 50% of your bill) is a great benchmark for street food tipping. However, because it’s an unusual practice here, the vendor might actually try to give you back your money—thinking that you mistakenly gave them too much! If they seem confused or offended by your tip, allow them to refuse your donation and just offer sincere thanks instead. 

Coffee Shops & Bars: Coffee shops and bars don’t have the same expectation for tips as other countries do. However, if you’ve received particularly good service or enjoyed yourself immensely while out and about in Vietnam, leaving behind a small gratuity would still be greatly appreciated by the staff and barista! 

Taxi Drivers: For taxi drivers, there’s no expectation of a tip, but if you have an especially long journey or excellent service, it’s always nice to leave something small between 10,000 VND and 50,000 VND (roughly $0.50 – $2 USD) 

Hotels: For hotel staff such as bellhops or porters, leaving a couple of dollars is usually enough. If you want to leave something for the room cleaner too, around $1 per night of your stay could be appropriate. Tipping reception staff is more up to your discretion; whatever you think is fair should do! 

Salons: Again, tipping salon staff isn’t common practice in Vietnam but can be appreciated if they provide good service. A good tip for hairdressers would be around 10% 

Can you bargain in Vietnam?

Shopping in Vietnam is a vibrant experience! Here, bartering is a way of life, and you’ll quickly find yourself engaged in the delightful art of haggling. It’s considered a form of courteous negotiation, and both merchants and customers are expected to decrease or increase prices for an agreeable deal.

Bargaining can be intimidating at first, but don’t worry; once you get the hang of it, you’ll be hooked. Shop down those delicious alleyways and start putting your bargaining skills to the test – from markets to convenience stores, nothing beats snagging that perfect souvenir.

What is ATM access like in Vietnam?

Access to ATMs in Vietnam is relatively convenient for international travellers. Most major airports offer ATM machines accepting international cards right outside the arrival gates. Additionally, you can find ATMs located around cities in Vietnam, allowing quick and easy access to your funds while you are travelling.

With over 20,000 ATMs nationwide that accept Visa cards and other international funds sources, navigating money matters during your stay in Vietnam should be a breeze.

What should you budget per day?

Budget

Visiting Vietnam on a budget is absolutely doable. With just 600,000-700,000 VND (AUD $37-44) per day, you can cover your accommodation at a hostel dorm, eat delicious street food for all of your meals (you must try the famous Pho and Bahn Mi!), use the public bus system, and check out free walking tours and one or two of those amazing attractions. You can even reduce this budget if the hostel offers free breakfast. Just factor in an additional 20,000-40,000 VND (AUD $1.25-2.5) to your daily budget if you plan on having a few drinks.

Moderate

If you’re looking to experience the culture of South Vietnam without keeping yourself on a tight purse string, a moderate budget of 1,000,000-1,500,000 VND (AUD $62-94) per day is the way to go. This amount lets you stay in a cheap and comfortable hotel, eat delicious street food as well as some meals at sit-down restaurants or cafes, have a few drinks with friends, take a taxi here and there for convenience, and explore many cultural activities like museums and water puppet shows. With this kind of budgeting, you can truly enjoy all that South Vietnam has to offer!

Luxury

With a luxurious budget of 2,460,000 VND per day, you’ll be living a high life with all the options in your hands. You’ll be able to stay at top-notch accommodations, sample restaurant menus from around the world, indulge in refreshing drinks and never worry about calling for taxis. Discovering Vietnam’s natural and cultural wonders won’t be a problem either—go on multi-day trips to Ha Long Bay or explore hidden gems such as Mai Chau. And that’s not even scratching the surface when it comes to enjoying yourself with luxury!

Currency details

Currency:

Vietnamese dong

Currency code:

VND

Currency symbol:

Central bank:

State Bank of Vietnam

Nickname:

None

Currency sub-unit:

Hào = 1/10 of a Dong | Xu = 1/100 of a Dong

Bank notes:

100₫, 200₫, 500₫, 1,000₫, 2,000₫, 5,000₫, 10,000₫, 20,000₫, 50,000₫, 100,000₫, 200,000₫, 500,000₫

Coins:

200₫, 500₫, 1,000₫, 2,000₫, 5,000₫

Must-do's while you are in Vietnam

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1. Explore Ha Long Bay

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Vietnam is Ha Long Bay, an incredible landscape of limestone karsts and islands that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend the day enjoying the stunning views as you cruise through emerald waters and explore hidden grottos, or take a kayaking tour around some of the thousands of islands that dot this area 

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2. Hike Through Rice Paddies

What could be more quintessentially Vietnamese than exploring miles of lush green rice paddies? This activity is perfect for nature lovers who want to experience the stunning countryside and get a glimpse into rural life in Vietnam. Join a guided tour or venture out on your own—either way, you’ll get to soak up some breathtaking views while learning about local farming traditions. 

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3. Sample Local Delicacies

Vietnamese cuisine is world-famous for its delicious flavours and healthy ingredients, so it’s worth taking the time to sample some local delicacies such as Pho (a noodle soup) and Banh Mi (a type of Vietnamese sandwich). Be sure to take advantage of street food vendors and restaurants alike—you’ll be amazed by just how tasty these dishes can be! 

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4. Take A Cruise Down The Mekong River

The mighty Mekong River winds throughout much of Vietnam, offering travellers yet another opportunity to explore this beautiful country. Book yourself onto one of the many cruises available along this historic waterway for a truly unique experience as you glide past traditional villages, lush jungle scenery and picturesque riverbanks 

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5. Climb Mount Fansipan

If you really want to challenge yourself during your visit, then why not tackle Mount Fansipan, the highest peak in all of Indochina at 3,147 meters above sea level? With its tropical rainforest terrain interspersed with beautiful waterfalls, it’s an adventurer’s paradise! Plus, once you reach the summit, you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views over Sapa Valley below.  

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