You’d think that a currency exchange would be easy to do in Vietnam. Yet, I’ve made some silly mistakes in my time!
So in this blog post… I’ll share 5 top tips BEFORE you do a Vietnam currency exchange, to save you a headache or heartache!
Paul and I were staying in the My An region of Da Nang at the time. After reading about gold shops being top places to get the best rates, there were none around us. I couldn’t even find a little shop or travel agent that would exchange money!
So I did a search on Google Maps of banks around the area. Near us there were 2 banks that I was looking at going to… One was Vietcombank and the other was DongA Bank.
I knew roughly how much Vietnamese Dong I should get, which leads me onto my first tip for you…
TIP 1: Use Money Exchange Sites As A Guide
To give me an idea of what I should expect to get from changing my Australian dollars to VND… I checked on www.xe.com
Use this site as a guide. You’ll never get the rate that it says on xe.com, but it’s good to know before you go. I also downloaded the app onto my iPhone so I can easily check anywhere.
Now, at the time the money exchange rate was for $1 Australian to VND… it was 16,100 Vietnamese Dong.
As a guide, I checked the Vietcombank website for their exchange rates in Da Nang. It was showing that for AUD $1… I would get 15,876 VND.
Here’s the link to where I found this information… https://www.vietcombank.com.vn/ExchangeRates/?lang=en
Then I had a look at the DongA Bank website, which was showing a general rate of 16,010 VND. Therefore, this had the best money exchange rate.
Here’s the link to where I found this information… http://www.dongabank.com.vn/en/exchange
Not a big difference in rates between the two banks. Plus, they don’t charge any commission fees either. I’ve found that most places in Vietnam don’t charge these fees.
I ended up going to the DongA Bank branch at Bắc Mỹ Phú, Ngũ Hành Sơn… as this was closer to where we were anyway.
NOTE: If you want ATMs, they’re outside and behind the bank. The entrance is on Đỗ Bá street.
TIP 2: Check The Banking Hours BEFORE You Go
I found the banking hours different to back at home in Australia. For example, at some banks in Australia they open on a Saturday. One day I got caught out when we were in Nha Trang! Thankfully the owner of where we were staying helped us out to exchange money. Silly rookie mistake!
Now, this DongA Bank opens early at 7:30am. When I went in the morning about 8:30am it was quiet. Most people were at work by this stage.
The entire bank closes at 11:30am for a one and a half hour lunch break.
It then re-opens at 1:00pm, and closes for the day at 5:00pm. Yet, it seems different bank branches have different opening and closing times! So remember to check the times before you head out to exchange money.
TIP 3: Bring More Notes Than You Need
Now, after I walked into this DongA Bank, a staff member waved me over to their section of the counter.
After telling them I wanted to exchange money I had to hand over my passport. I didn’t ask them the rate because there was a big board behind the staff showing the current rates.
She then asked for the money. She counted the amount of money in front of me. It was a strict process in that they checked every bill carefully. She looked at both sides carefully, and arranged the money so that each note was facing the same direction.
So, why do I recommend you bring more money than you need to exchange?
Previously I’ve run into issues exchanging money in Vietnam…
1. Some of the notes had someone’s hand written scribble on it. The staff member REJECTED those notes. So make sure there are no markings on your notes, not even a scribble!
2. One of my Australian dollar notes had the tiniest tear in the corner. The staff member REJECTED my note! So make sure that the notes do not have any imperfections. Even a slight tear and they won’t accept the money.
So, the best thing to do is bring a few extra notes as back up. And make sure the bills are in pristine condition!
TIP 4: Count Your Money In Front Of The Staff
Now, after handing over my hard earned cash… the staff member wrote on a piece of paper in front of me the current exchange rate. She also wrote down the amount of money I gave her, and the total amount I would get.
After I agreed, she told me to wait 5 minutes.
A few minutes later there were several bits of paper she was preparing. And then I had to sign my name 5 times! Crazy, right? I had no idea what I was signing as it was all in Vietnamese. Yet, I didn’t think I was signing my life away though!
Then she was preparing all the Vietnamese dong for me. She manually counted the money first. Then, in front of me she showed me the money as it’s being counted. With the larger notes these are counted via a machine.
Then with that she gave me my Vietnamese Dong. But… it amazes me that so many people don’t count their money after it’s been given to them! Machines and humans can make mistakes.
After you receive your money, don’t walk off and count your money. Stay at the counter in front of the staff member, and count it in front of them. So, if there is a discrepancy they’ve seen it before their eyes.
TIP 5: Ask For Smaller Denominations
Most of the time the staff will give you the big 500,000 dong notes. So you’ll be a millionaire… in Vietnam! LOL.
Be aware though, that some places may not have change for a 500,0000 VND bill… especially if you’re buying something for 20,000 Vietnamese dong at a Mom and Pop store.
So ask the staff for smaller notes.
There you go!
As a recap, my 5 top tips before you do a Vietnam currency exchange:
TIP 1: Use money exchange sites like xe.com as a guide… So then you know roughly what you could get, and not feel ripped off.
TIP 2: Check the banking hours BEFORE you get your money changed… because you don’t want to be left stranded, begging! Bank and money change places are varied, even if it’s the same company. And the hours change too.
TIP 3: Bring more notes than you need to change… and make sure the notes are in “perfect” condition.
TIP 4: Count your money in front of the staff where they can see it, so as to reduce any discrepancies in what you get.
TIP 5: Ask for smaller denominations, because don’t assume that all places will have the correct change for you.
So go out there and have fun times on your travels!
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