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Currency and Shopping

Currency and Shopping

For anyone who likes handicrafts and a bargain, Vietnam is nirvana. Wooden water puppets, with ingenious mechanisms, silk, lacquerware, ceramics, colourful hill-tribe bags, clothing and hand-painted silk greetings cards are all a must-buy. Clothes are particularly good value and tailors can make up clothes within 24 hours in many places, particularly Hoi An. Those who plan to bring back souvenirs are therefore advised to travel light.


Dong (VND; symbol ₫) is the name of national currency. Notes are in denominations of ₫500,000, 200,000, 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500. Coins are in denominations of ₫5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500. State bank revoke coins for some reasons.

Credit cards: An increasing number of tourist spots accept MasterCard and Visa or even Amex. However, outside main towns and cities, it is wise to carry cash.

ATM: There are plenty of ATMs in major towns, but they can be scarce in rural areas. ATMs issue Dông, and the single withdrawal limit varies, depending on the bank, ranging from ₫2,000,000 to 10,000,000 (around 100 to 500 USD depend on banks)

Travellers' cheques: Travellers' cheques are accepted in banks and some hotels although most travellers now use debit cards because of the increased number of ATMs. It is best to take US Dollar travellers' cheques to avoid additional exchange rate charges and expect to pay a high commission.

Banking hours: Varies from bank to bank but generally Mon-Fri 0830-1600; some may close for lunch. Many banks are also open on Saturday morning (0830 -1100); all banks are closed on Sunday.

Currency exchange: The US Dollar is the most favoured foreign currency. Australian, British, Japanese, Singaporean and Thai currency, as well as the Euro, can usually be changed in the larger cities; great difficulty may be encountered in trying to exchange any other currencies. There is a different rate for big notes and small notes.

Tipping: Tipping is now quite customary, especially in tourist areas, and is much appreciated in a country where salaries are still low. Upscale restaurants and hotels may add a 5-10% service charge to the bill.


Each town and city has one or more markets and these are always worth visiting as much for the experience as for the shopping. Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have seen the arrival of upmarket shopping malls selling leading international and domestic brands.

In small shops and markets have a go at bargaining for any items that catch your eye because bargaining is a fact of life in Vietnam, but remember to keep it good-natured. Many of the souvenir shops in major towns and cities don't budge much on prices and some are even fixed price.

Things to buy in Vietnam

Ao Dai: Ao Dai, a tight-fitting silk tunic worn over pants, is a traditional national dress for Vietnamese which now most commonly worn by women. If you couldn’t find a fit one, customize one. This can be done in Hoi An, which is famous for its express tailor – made .

Conical Hat: One of the symbols of Vietnam. That’s pretty eye-catching if you wear this hat with a poem in Vietnamese on it in your country. Hue City produces this product, which costs only a couple of dollar.

Lacquer Products & Silk Lanterns: Vietnamese artists have an unrivaled reputation in Asia for producing high-quality lacquer products with reasonable price. Beautiful Vietnamese silk lanterns are a wonderful way to decorate a home.

Art Paintings: Oil and lacquer paintings are beautiful and cost only a fraction of what you are going to pay for the same quality art painting in any other countries. Local galleries in tourist cities usually have inexpensive and delicate master painting in display and for sale.

Other souvenirs recommended to buy are home decorative items, jewelry, and stylish silk garments. Please turn to our responsible Vietnam tour guide before you shop, who will offer useful travel tips and possibly escort you when you are shopping.

Read more:

Things you should buy when travelling in Vietnam (Part 1)

Things we should buy when travelling in Vietnam (Part 2)


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