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Old Jun 10, 08, 6:24 am   #1
 
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Exclamation Vietnam Warning! VND to USD Currency Exchange Issues

I am in Vietnam right now and wanted to warn anyone who is visting soon to not change too much of their USD to VND. Currently, the official rate is ~16,500 VND for $1USD. However, when you try to change your VND back to USD before leaving the country, the rate is currently ~17,800 to 18,100 to get your $1 back!
Now I have been frantically trying to find a bank that will honor the official rate and I was told today that a foreigner can get back up to $500 USD at the official rate, but I have not had luck so far.
A lot of places are saying, sorry, we dont have USD to sell, or they type down the black market rate on their calculator despite what is listed. VERY frustrating, as this is not technically legal I believe.
So, if you go to Vietnam dont change your USD at an official place. If you know someone local maybe they can get you higher than 16,500 for your $1. Also, dont change more than you need to save the hassle.
Also, stay somewhere with prices in VND not in USD if possible. You can get more for your money if you plan right.

Lastly, if you are coming soon, I have several thousand in VND that I need to change before I leave in two weeks. I can offer 17,000 for your $1 USD.

Hope this helps, feel free to ask any questions.

Travel to Vietnam might become cheaper even if the value of the VND continues to fall. At least one place in the world will still be affordable to us Americans!
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Old Jun 10, 08, 6:27 am   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkdash421 View Post
I am in Vietnam right now and wanted to warn anyone who is visting soon to not change too much of their USD to VND. Currently, the official rate is ~16,500 VND for $1USD. However, when you try to change your VND back to USD before leaving the country, the rate is currently ~17,800 to 18,100 to get your $1 back!
Now I have been frantically trying to find a bank that will honor the official rate and I was told today that a foreigner can get back up to $500 USD at the official rate, but I have not had luck so far.
A lot of places are saying, sorry, we dont have USD to sell, or they type down the black market rate on their calculator despite what is listed. VERY frustrating, as this is not technically legal I believe.
So, if you go to Vietnam dont change your USD at an official place. If you know someone local maybe they can get you higher than 16,500 for your $1. Also, dont change more than you need to save the hassle.
Also, stay somewhere with prices in VND not in USD if possible. You can get more for your money if you plan right.

Lastly, if you are coming soon, I have several thousand in VND that I need to change before I leave in two weeks. I can offer 17,000 for your $1 USD.

Hope this helps, feel free to ask any questions.

Travel to Vietnam might become cheaper even if the value of the VND continues to fall. At least one place in the world will still be affordable to us Americans!
And make sure that you change any extra currency back to USD before you leave, because outside Vietnam the currency is worthless.
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Old Jun 10, 08, 6:37 am   #3
 
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Yeah, I am wondering right now if anyone at HKG can tell me if I can exchange at the Travelex at the airport, and what the rate there is?
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Old Jun 10, 08, 7:10 am   #4
 
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When I travel internationally these days, I use bank ATMs which give the official exchange rate. This has always worked, but I carry cash just in case. I have not been to Vietnam before, but I am wondering, are there banks with ATMs in Vietnam?
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Old Jun 10, 08, 8:35 am   #5
 
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Originally Posted by tkdash421 View Post
So, if you go to Vietnam dont change your USD at an official place.
Sorry, beg to differ. As a visitor using unofficial places you leave yourself open to receiving fake VN notes, or simply the wrong number of notes having been confused by the large denominations.

As you say, best not to change more then you need to or enlist a local to help you if you're unsure.

I've used the Eximbank agent on Le Loi (roughly opposite the Louis Vitton, half way between the theatre and the Rex roundabout) for years without trouble - sometimes changing the equivalent of a few thousand USD, both ways. (Not used them for 6 months - I trust they are still there.)

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Originally Posted by happytravelling View Post
I have not been to Vietnam before, but I am wondering, are there banks with ATMs in Vietnam?
Yes there are plenty in the main cities. I've generally used HSBC and Vietcombank. My own UK bank charges nothing for using foreign ATMs (ie no charge, and no skew on the currency rate.. I know up to 3% is common for many banks including UK ones). The VN ATMs (inc HSBC) seem to charge a flat fee per transaction which is on the machine or on the screen. Works out OK unless you withdraw small amounts. If you've got a card that's free to use overseas, then I think this is the way to go.

Last edited by jimbo99; Jun 10, 08 at 8:40 am.
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Old Jun 10, 08, 8:41 am   #6
 
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There's effectively a run on the Vietnamese dong at the moment, with the stock market in freefall and 12 month forwards contracts pricing it at >22,000 to the dollar:

http://www.viettimes.net/node/420

So it's no wonder you're having problems buying dollars...
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Old Jun 10, 08, 9:13 am   #7
 
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Originally Posted by jpatokal View Post
There's effectively a run on the Vietnamese dong at the moment, with the stock market in freefall and 12 month forwards contracts pricing it at >22,000 to the dollar:

http://www.viettimes.net/node/420

So it's no wonder you're having problems buying dollars...
Its a pity, the dong has been relatively stable over the last 10 years. Inflation is getting a bit crazy - I hope what ever adjustment happens things settle down.

Just a few weeks ago it was the other way around - there was a shortage of dong and people were having trouble changing their dollars INTO dong.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/...iness/dong.php
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Old Jun 10, 08, 9:40 am   #8
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Originally Posted by happytravelling View Post
I have not been to Vietnam before, but I am wondering, are there banks with ATMs in Vietnam?
There are Citibanks in Vietnam
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Old Jun 10, 08, 9:46 am   #9
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Originally Posted by tkdash421 View Post
Travel to Vietnam might become cheaper even if the value of the VND continues to fall.
With the local inflation at 25% and "tourist" inflation at 50%, I dont think so.

Airport taxi fares in Hanoi went up twice by almost 50% within 6 months ....
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Old Jun 10, 08, 12:36 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by jimbo99 View Post
Sorry, beg to differ. As a visitor using unofficial places you leave yourself open to receiving fake VN notes, or simply the wrong number of notes having been confused by the large denominations.

As you say, best not to change more then you need to or enlist a local to help you if you're unsure.

I've used the Eximbank agent on Le Loi (roughly opposite the Louis Vitton, half way between the theatre and the Rex roundabout) for years without trouble - sometimes changing the equivalent of a few thousand USD, both ways. (Not used them for 6 months - I trust they are still there.)

You are entitled to your opinion, and I agree with you. If someone is reading this that is coming to Vietnam for the first time and/or does not have a local friend, please use the official rate. If you have been to Vietnam before and/or have a connection, you are simply robbing yourself by accepting the official rate of 16.200VND when you could get 17,000VND or more.

When the rate hits 20,000 black market to the official rate of 16,200, I would hope that someone would contact me or anyone in Vietnam that they know instead of simply giving a large percentage of their money to the exchange.

I am attempting to change my money tomorrow at a recommended bank and I will be sure to update the post with my success or failure. The Vietnam government is trying their best to have the banks honor the official rate, but so far I have seen them "running out of" USD.
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Old Jun 10, 08, 12:42 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by mario33 View Post
With the local inflation at 25% and "tourist" inflation at 50%, I dont think so.

Airport taxi fares in Hanoi went up twice by almost 50% within 6 months ....
I have been living here as a tourist for 9 months. I have not seen 50% "tourist" inflation. I completely believe the news that inflation has hit 25% but it has not been reflected in the prices I pay. Pho24 has gone up about 10%, as has Highlands Coffee. The prices at Skewers went up about 15%, the prices for drinks, etc. at the convience stores have stayed mostly the same. Pacaran tapas have not gone up in prices, and their pitcher of sangria is still $6 at happy hour. I can still get a decent hotel room in Da Lat for $7 a night and the taxi prices in Ho Chi Minh (even to/from the airport) have stayed the same or have gone up less than 15% ( the 15 minute ride from the airport to my house is still under 50,000VND, same as it was 8 months ago.)
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Old Jun 10, 08, 3:32 pm   #12
 
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Originally Posted by tkdash421 View Post
I have been living here as a tourist for 9 months. I have not seen 50% "tourist" inflation. I completely believe the news that inflation has hit 25% but it has not been reflected in the prices I pay. Pho24 has gone up about 10%, as has Highlands Coffee. The prices at Skewers went up about 15%, the prices for drinks, etc. at the convience stores have stayed mostly the same. Pacaran tapas have not gone up in prices, and their pitcher of sangria is still $6 at happy hour. I can still get a decent hotel room in Da Lat for $7 a night and the taxi prices in Ho Chi Minh (even to/from the airport) have stayed the same or have gone up less than 15% ( the 15 minute ride from the airport to my house is still under 50,000VND, same as it was 8 months ago.)
I agree: I was last in Saigon and Da Nang in late March, and the only dramatic price increases I've noticed over the past 2+ years have been for hotels and tailoring. Many goods and services are still so cheap for westerners that you easily could overlook a 25% bounce.

Eventually they'll devalue the dong...unless of course the government decides to do something really stupid.
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Old Jun 10, 08, 3:48 pm   #13
 
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Originally Posted by tkdash421 View Post
I have been living here as a tourist for 9 months.
Wow! Lucky you...
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Old Jun 10, 08, 7:39 pm   #14
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I have not seen 50% "tourist" inflation.
It may not be an official figure (and perhaps a bit of an exaggeration on my part) but many tourist services in Hanoi are seeing ridiculous price increases :

1) Hotel room rates rose by something like 70%-80% last year (official figure)
2) Airport taxi rate rose by 50% within 5-6 months (meter fare remains the same)
3) Halong cruises increased by 20%-40% earlier this year.
4) My restaurant bill (same restaurant) seems to have gone up by 20-30% within 3 months.

And I cant even afford to visit Saigon now with the Sheraton hitting USD300/night, so even if prices at pho24 remains the same it wouldnt do any good for me.

Very, very unlikely Vietnam will be getting cheaper for tourists in the near future. Already cancelled a trip couple of weeks ago and went to Bangkok instead, so much better value.
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Old Jun 10, 08, 8:07 pm   #15
 
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Originally Posted by jimbo99 View Post
Yes there are plenty in the main cities. I've generally used HSBC and Vietcombank. My own UK bank charges nothing for using foreign ATMs (ie no charge, and no skew on the currency rate.. I know up to 3% is common for many banks including UK ones). The VN ATMs (inc HSBC) seem to charge a flat fee per transaction which is on the machine or on the screen. Works out OK unless you withdraw small amounts. If you've got a card that's free to use overseas, then I think this is the way to go.
In Saigon, also, there is an ANZ bank and ATM nearby the Renaissance hotel in D1. I'm sure there are any number of others, but I wanted to mention that one since it is near some of the better hotels in the area.
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