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FAQ about traveling in Vietnam

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I have read a few questions asked by mongers. I felt like starting with complex facts but I realize that the travelers' worries are pretty down to earth and that the answers are all pretty basic. Before answering a few questions, I would give just an advise : remember how you felt the first time you went to the LOS. Did you really feel comfortable ? How did you react when you first saw Thai alphasyllabary  characters ? 

You needn't feel more stressed than that. Maybe some people imagine a country with rice fields and tropical forests destroyed by war battles. Just think about it : the last battle too place in 1975, 30 years after the end of WWII. Do you think that Europe was still suffering from war in 1990 ? 

Whatever your worries maybe, just that you're going to a second Thailand. Little by little, you will find differences and depending on the country you come from, you will feel more or less comfortable. You will adapt to differences and hopefully find advantages. 


Here is the first question I found :


I am off to Vietnam in the next couple of months , this will be the first time I have been and just had a quick question about changing money for those that are in the know. 
I am coming from the UK and had planned on taking some GBP sterling and an ATM card or two (as I have when I have been to Thailand) and changing GBP into Dong (no jokes please! ) once I am out there, however my question is should I also take some USD as well? I plan on getting some tailoring done and most reviews online look like people have paid USD. 
I would rather not double change if you know what I mean (GBP to USD to spend in Vietnam ) but don't wish to get caught out either so willing to take both USD and GBP if it makes my life easier. 

First, you had a positive reflex keeping your habit to take some of your home money since it remains an easy currency to change. I also agree with the idea of traveling with an ATM card or two. I actually found a solution to get 2 credit cards for free and I bring some euros in my bagage. (Euros are well kept in bagage safe and I keep them for my safety). You will ATMs in most of the cities you will visit. So you needn't bring USD with you and you'd loose money in double change. 

Regarding ATMs, you have to take into account an important difference with Thailand. In many ATMs the maximum amount you can withdraw is 2 million VND (write VND and no one will laugh about it). 2 million VND is not much : less than 90 US$, 70 £ or 80 €. When I discovered that during my first trip, I took the habit of with drawing 2 million VND each time I would find an ATM operated by a different bank. Guess what. After searching, I found banks ATMs with  maximum withdrawal increased to 3 or even 4 or 5 million VND. What I usually do is to keep an amount of about 10 million VND till my last week, then I spend my remaining money. I found ATMs with higher maximum withdrawal in SGN airport (HCMC). They are easy to find in international airports, you'll find them just after the bagage claim.

Just a personal point of view. I know that some people prefer to travel with a lot of cash in their bagage. I don't. I know that banks bill fees, but bank services cost money and they bring safety. I see these guys as bank cheap charlies. I prefer to save on bar fines and keep my money safe. 

Another point you mentioned is about US$. I seldom saw prices given in US$ in Vietnam. It happened once in Hanoi in a travel agency when purchasing a trip to Ha Long bay and one more time in the south when purchasing a train ticket to HCMC. I got so much used in asking prices in VND that I don't find US$ natural. I usually reply "in euro please !" but Vietnamese people are not really used to Euros. I don't know why some business give prices in US$. Maybe their Russian customers feel they are important businessmen using dollars. I'm also suspicious. I wonder if they don't use US$ to give figures you will find low compared with VNDs and prices that you can't compare with their competitors. If you feel embarrassed with big numbers, start thinking in Kdong, not in VND. 1 K = 1,000 VND . It's much more easier to handle money. 

If you want to exchange currency, please be advised I had found an excellent rate at Techcombank Pasteur in HCMC. I didn't want to withdraw 2 MVND and I feared fixed rate fees. So I took a 50 € bill and changed it. 
I kept 500 K VND when coming back. VND is no longer a monkey money. More than one year ago, I counted that 1 € worthed 27 KVND. 2 months ago, that was 25 K VND. 



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  • 1 year later...

Just want to remind you guys that in order to see a reply box to post you need to first join this excellent club.  On my laptop there is a JOIN CLUB underneath the Vietnamese lady on the right. This will vary according to your device and browser. It might be in the middle on some phones.

I'd suggest that you take a few seconds and click the Join Club button now.

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