Money and Costs
Budget: Less than US$40
- Glass of bia hoi (draught beer): from US$0.30
- One hour on a local bus: US$1–1.50
- Cheap hotel: US$9–16 a night, dorms less
- Simple noodle dish: US$1.50–2.50
- Comfortable double room: US$25–50
- Meal in a restaurant: from US$8
- One-hour massage: US$7–20
- Ten-minute taxi ride: US$2.50–5
Top end: More than US$100
- Luxury hotel room: from US$80
- Gourmet dinner: from US$20
- Internal flight: US$30–100
ATMs are found throughout the country, even in small towns. Cash is king but debit and credit cards can be used in many hotels.
The Vietnamese currency is the dong (d), which has been pretty stable against hard currencies for many years. Most establishments quote prices in dong, with some (mainly luxury hotels) giving US dollar rates.
There’s no real black market in Vietnam.
ATMs are very widespread. You shouldn’t have any problems getting cash with a regular Maestro/Cirrus debit card, or with a Visa or MasterCard debit or credit card. Watch for stiff withdrawal charges (typically 25,000d to 50,000d) and limits: most are around 2,000,000d; Agribank allows up to 6,000,000d and Commonwealth Bank up to 10,000,000d.
US dollars can be exchanged and used widely. Other major currencies can be exchanged at banks including Vietcombank and HSBC.
Most land border crossings now have some sort of official currency exchange.
Visa and MasterCard are accepted in major cities and many tourist centres, but don’t expect noodle bars to take plastic. Commission charges (around 3%) sometimes apply.
If you wish to obtain a cash advance, this is possible at Vietcombank branches in most cities. Banks generally charge at least a 3% commission for this service.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
- Hotels Not expected. Leave a small gratuity for cleaning staff if you like.
- Restaurants Not expected; 5% to 10% in smart restaurants or if you're very satisfied. Locals don't tip.
- Guides A few dollars on day trips is sufficient, more for longer trips if the service is good.
- Taxis Not necessary, but a little extra is appreciated, especially at night.
- Bars Never expected.
Bargaining is essential in Vietnam, but not for everything and it should be good-natured – don’t shout or get angry. Discounts of 60% or more may be possible; in other places it may only be 10% – or prices may be fixed. Haggle hard in marketplaces and most souvenir stores, and for cyclos and xe om (motorbike taxis). Many hotels offer a discount; restaurant prices are fixed.