How to pay for things in Vietnam (Cash!)

pay for things

  • I’d say the best way for travellers to pay for things in Vietnam is cash right now
  • While credit card is accepted in many places in major cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, you will still have a lot of trouble getting around without enough cash in hand
  • Mobile payment apps are also becoming more popular, but as travellers you won’t be able to use them without a Vietnamese bank account
  • How to get cash:

  • Vietnamese currency is Dong (VND). 1 USD = 23,000 VND
  • The best way to get cash in Vietnam is to bring USD or Euros and go to a gold shop to exchange money (gold shops are literally shops that sell gold jewellery but most of them offer exchange services at the best rates in the country)
  • You can also exchange money at banks and money exchangers in airports. The rates you get at airports are not bad at all, comparable to banks in the city and only slightly worse than gold shops
  • If you run out of cash, you can always use ATMs to get more. This will be expensive as ATMs typically charge you 30,000 – 50,000 VND per withdrawal, and maximum 2-3 million VND per withdrawal
  • How much cash to bring:

  • This will heavily depend on your travel style
  • Aside from the cost of flight and hotel, you can travel in Vietnam for a little as $10USD (250,000 VND)per day if you’re tight with your budget. I’d say most people should budget $25-$35USD (600,000VND – 850,000 VND) in cash per day in spending money, and bring a Visa or MasterCard as well to pay for any unexpected large expenses or occasional splurges
  • Where you can use credit cards:

  • As I said above, if you’re in major cities like Hanoi and HCMC, or major tourist towns like Ha Long Bay and Da Nang, you will actually find many places that accept credit cards
  • The most commonly accepted cards are Visa, MasterCard, and JCB
  • The types of places that accept cards are:

  • Hotel chains and airlines
  • Tour agencies
  • Pre-booked local transportation and private transfers
  • Grab taxi
  • Mid to upper scale restaurants
  • Upscale supermarkets
  • Stores in shopping malls
  • Modern movie theaters
  • Other than these places, you will hardly anyone else accepting credit card for payment. If you want to get an in-depth experience of Vietnam, make use of public transportation, go to markets, and so on, you will need to pay for all of them with cash
  • Mobile payment:

  • Mobile payment is growing more popular these days, but it’s still nowhere near being a dominant method of payment
  • Most people I know still don’t use mobile payments on a daily basis
  • Momo is I think the most popular payment app in Vietnam, but as foreigners you won’t be able to use it because you need to have a Vietnamese bank account