ATMs and foreign currency exchange banks can be found in the major cities in Vietnam, like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. The local currency is the Vietnam dong. The US dollar is widely accepted in malls, hotels and restaurants in the cities, but it useful to carry dongs everywhere, especially in the more remote areas. Use local bills in paying for transportation, especially in riding buses and taxis.
Although, US dollars can easily be exchanged for dongs in many areas, only major banks will convert other foreign currencies. Check on-line currency converters for equivalents. The conversion usually goes:
- 1 US dollar = 21,879 dong
- 1 British Pound = 29,466 dong
- 1 Euro dollar = 22,042 dong
- 1 Australian dollar = 12,786 dong
Trains are a comfortable, less expensive alternative to domestic airlines when it comes to travelling long distances. Beware of overcharging. Many foreigners fall prey to doubled up prices, especially in buses, taxis and local markets. Eating is a satisfying, inexpensive affair – street food can cost between $0.50 to $1, while fine dining and wine can come at $50. Similarly, backpacker rooms can cost $5 while five-star accommodations can easily be had at $100. At some budget hostels, you can negotiate over the price if you are travelling during an off-peak season where there are few occupants at the place. Be prepared to do the same at flea markets – there, haggling is the norm. Tipping workers at restaurants and hotels, as well as tour guides and bus drivers, is greatly appreciated.