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Colorful joss sticks are sold all over Vietnam.  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.de/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

Supermarket Hang Da
A 6-story building to house the market is currently under construction; all the kiosks are now located in the neighboring area, either on Phung Hung (second-hand clothing), Duong Thanh or Ly Nam De streets. They offer everything that one can think of, from pets,... more
in Hanoi
Market Cho Hom (the equivalent meaning in English would be Noon Market but the translation is not close)
They offer everything here. What it is famous for is the fabric market on the second floor. There are many kiosks selling different types of fabrics ranging from cheap, affordable to very good quality with a high price. However, please bear in mind that when sho... more
in Hanoi
 
General/Other Store Dong Xuan
Famous for being the market for wholesalers. They have from school supplies, stuffed animals to clothing. It is quite an experience to spend some time in the market observing the sellers and buyers.
in Hanoi
Market Night Market
Usually opens from 7PM, this unique market gathers on a walking street in the old quarter. Has anything from pirated DVD to traditional ornaments. Prices are negotiatable but watch out for the "foreigner pricing" which is fairly common.
in Hanoi
 
Flea Market Sunday Market
Bac Ha's market is frequented by roughly 10 of the local hill tribes so offers a large range of local produce and some tourist gifts.
in Bac Ha
Market Lung Phin Market
is roughly 12km from Bac Ha and takes place every Sunday.
in Bac Ha
 
Market Can Cau Market
is roughly 20km north of Bac Ha and takes place every Saturday.
in Bac Ha
Market Coc Ly market
is roughly 35km from Bac Ha and takes place every Tuesday.
in Bac Ha
 
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Healing the Wounded Heart Shop
A Humanitarian project of the Spiral Foundation. This unique shop sells eco-friendly handicrafts made by disabled artisans in Hue. Many of the products are made from recycled items, including recycled soda can frames, and recycled telephone wire baskets. All net... more
in Huế
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Hope Center
The Hope Center offers disabled and disadvantaged people a place to learn and work. Garment manufacturing is the mainstay. However, a range of handicraft items are also made. In particular the beautiful hand-woven cloth by A Luoi women is unique in its design an... more
in Huế
 
These are just 10 of 62 Shops & Stores in Vietnam. Show more.




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