Some notes about Dongs
- The official currency in Vietnam is the Dong (abbreviated as the VND, or Vietnamese Dong) and it's illegal to list prices or ask for payment in any other currency in Vietnam.
- The notes come in thousands; 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 and 500,000.
- However they aren't as big as they sound. A 500,000 VND note in your wallet may make you feel flush, but it's only worth a little more than £21.
- To keep things simple, locals usually drop off the thousands when they refer to thousand dong notes too, so a 2,000 note is just a two, a ten thousand note just a 10 and so on.
- Be careful not to mix your 20,000 VND with 500,000 VND notes. They look very similar, so you'll be well advised to keep your 500,000 VND separate from the rest.
- Coins come in 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000 denominations, although locals may occasionally refuse to accept them as they prefer notes.
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Making the most of your money in Vietnam
As in everywhere across Asia, street markets are a cheap and interesting alternative to eating in restaurants. Street dishes cost as little as 3,000 or 4,000 VND, but portions are small so you might need more than one to fill you up.
If you need transport around a city a motorcycle taxi costs around 10,000 VND. You can hire a driver for a whole day, including waiting time, for around 100,000 to 150,000 VND - that's only about £5! The average car taxi ride is 20 to 30,000 VND.
Taking the bus
Buses are unsurprisingly very cheap, typically costing about 20,000 VND, to take you 50 km. However they also tend to be very uncomfortable and overcrowded, so you might prefer to take a first class bus or bus tour. You'll find all the bus and rail times and their current prices on the 12g.asia site.
Alternatively, if you prefer to drive yourself around, a bike is around 100,000 to 150,000 VND a day to hire in tourist towns.
Museums and national parks typically charge around 20,000 to 40,000 VND for admission. However if you use a guide inside a park you may have to pay another 100,000 to 200,000 VND and park transport can be expensive too.