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Colorful joss sticks are sold all over Vietnam.  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Vietnam

Vietnam Money & Shopping

  
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Currency

The national currency is the dong, which has stabilized in the past few years but is difficult to find or exchange outside Vietnam. 

US dollars

U.S. dollars are widely accepted, the standard exchange rate for small quantities being 19000 dong to US$1; this is some 5% below the bank rate, so it's usually better to pay in dong. Inflation in Vietnam has been skyrocketing as a result of the world financial crisis, so expect the rate of dong-dollar rate of 19500 in gold/jewelry shops in late 2010. Also note that dollar bills in less than perfect condition may be rejected.

US $2 bills (especially those printed in the 1970's) are considered lucky in Vietnam and are worth more than $2.They make a good tip/gift, and many Vietnamese will keep them in their wallet for luck.

US$50 and US$100 notes get a higher exchange rate than notes of lower denominations. Note that all gold shops will exchange the majority of hard currencies (Sterling, Yen, Swiss Francs, Euro etc.) at reasonable rates. Be advised that travel agencies (like StaTravel in Saigon) will rip you off offering you a very low rate.

ATMs

ATMs are getting more and more common and can be found in most bigger cities and every tourist destination. They will accept a selection of credit and bank-cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Maestro or Cirrus and several other systems. Not every machine will like your particular card, but "Vietcombank ATMs" are known for the broadest variety. The amount of your withdrawal may not exceed 2,000,000 dong in one transaction with typically an additional 20,000 dong charge.

There are branches of money transfer companies like Western Union, but this is always one of the more expensive ways to get money.

On most land borders connecting to Cambodia, China, and Laos there are freelance moneychangers to take care of your financial leftovers, but be assured they'll get the better of you if you don't know the going rate.

Hassle and Bargain

Overcharging has long been an issue in Vietnam tourism. It can happen anywhere on anything from an hotel room, a ride on taxi, coffee, meal, clothing, basic grocery stuff. Your coffee suddenly becomes 100% more expensive and a restaurant may present you an English menu with inflated prices. A friendly local who spent 30 minutes talking with you may also feel like overcharging you on anything.

Vietnamese hold a diverse view on this issue but in general it is more common in Vietnam than other neighbouring countries to see it socially acceptable to overcharge foreigners. They may argue inflated prices are still cheap and they may blame on the cheap cost of living which attracts a lot of backpackers with barebone budgets. According to this school of thoughts, if tourists complain about it, it's because they're stingy. Rich tourists from developed countries should not have a problem being overcharged.

The good news is that standard price is much more common than early 90s. You will absolutely spoil your travel if you assume that everyone is cheating you, just try to be smart. In a restaurant, learn some common dish names in Vietnamese, insist that you need to read Vietnamese menu, and compare it. If owners argue that the portion of dishes in the English menu is different, it's definitely a scam and move to other places. Learn some Vietnamese numbers and try to see how much a local pays a vendor. Also try basic bargaining tactics: Think how much it is back home, ask for big discount and walk away, pretending that the price isn't right. Many products tend to be standardized and compare more.

Beware

Be wary of watch shops selling fakes. Other fake watches are available but not as cheap as other surrounding countries. Pirated software is oddly, very hard to find and not sold openly. However Movie DVD's of indifferent quality are widely available from $1, although not all may have English on them. The local post office will strictly not allow them to be posted abroad.

Costs

Costs for a month's stay can start from a backpacking US$250-500
Using basic rooms, local food and open bus transportation can keep it very close to the US$250 per month

Tipping is not expected in Vietnam, with the exception of bellhops in high end hotels. In any case, the price quoted to you is often many times what locals will pay, so tipping can be considered unnecessary in most circumstances.

Shops & Stores in Vietnam

Fashion Store Bosua Local Street Wear
in Ho Chi Minh City
Souvenir Store Ginkgo T-Shirts
Ginkgo makes original and quality souvenir t-shirts with creative designs inspired by Asian and Vietnamese cultures. Other store within District 1 is located at 56, Bui Vien. VND 210,000.
in Ho Chi Minh City
 
Market Ben Thanh Market
Ben Thanh is recognizable from its clock tower on the large traffic circle. The largest old-style market in the central district, with several hundred small stalls stuffed with goods on almost impassably narrow aisles. Due to its popularity with tourists, the ma... more
in Ho Chi Minh City
Market Saigon Square
It is a twin of Ben Thanh but with air-con. Haggling your way through this place is the rule of thumb. Local middle-class Vietnamese shop here on the weekends too. Consider planning your shopping here during the day and go to Ben Thanh for the night market. The ... more
in Ho Chi Minh City
 
Market Cho Binh Tay
It is the more underrated twin of Ben Thanh, selling everything from spices, Chinese medicines, silk to obscure varieties of fermented fish, dried seafood and jerky. If you are searching for a variety of Vietnam silks and velvets, skip the tourist trap Ben Thanh... more
in Ho Chi Minh City
Market Night Market
Here you can enjoy many kinds of different food and drink, and go round to do your shopping as well.
in Ho Chi Minh City
 
Market War Surplus Market
Sometimes called the American Market or "Cho Cu" or "Khu Dan Sinh" in corner of Yersin and Nguyen Cong Tru, District 1. Hidden behind rows of hardware and electric supplies shops, just brace yourself and enter. Dense warrens of stal... more
in Ho Chi Minh City
Supermarket Tax Department Store
Formerly the Russian Market, this is now a rather sterile department store of sorts filled with stalls selling touristy kitsch, although the selections get better as you ascend the levels. There's a good supermarket on level 2. If you are traveling her... more
in Ho Chi Minh City
 
Supermarket Small Western-Style Supermarkets
It can be found on the top floor of the Parkson department store one block northeast of the Opera House, and in Diamond Plaza, behind the Cathedral, on the top floor of the department store.
in Ho Chi Minh City
Supermarket Co-Op Mart Supermarkets
Frequented by throngs of the Saigon middle-class and backpackers alike, can be found everywhere around HCMC. In District 1 they can be found at the corner of Nam Ky Khoi Nghia and Nguyen Dinh Chieu, about 1km from the center OR in Cong Quynh, walking distance aw... more
in Ho Chi Minh City
 
These are just 10 of 62 Shops & Stores in Vietnam. Show more.




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