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Vietnam and Cambodia currencies.

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Vietnam and Cambodia currencies.

Old 21st Jan 2019, 18:46
  #1 (permalink)  
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Vietnam and Cambodia currencies.

Mrs yt and myself are embarking on a trip to these two countries shortly and I have a question about the local currencies. We are in each country for a week and would like to know about the practicality of using buying/using local currencies for incidentals like the odd meal/drink/museum/gifts etc.

We are told that the US dollar (USD) is widely accepted in both countries so it is tempting to take USD only and use our credit cards for anything else - like meals in a restaurants for example. Is it generally considered 'safe' to use UK credit cards? - I'm thinking of cloning etc? Indeed are currencies for both countries available for purchase in the UK (M&S/Sainsbury's for example)?

Any advice or experiences about this most welcome as we have never been to this part of the World before. yt.
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Old 21st Jan 2019, 20:43
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I did a cruise, on the Mekong, from Siem Rep (or nearby) to Saigon (whatever it is called nowadays) about 5/6 years ago.

I was advised to and took USD in new singles and nothing bigger than 20$.

They were accepted everywhere.

I only used my credit card to pay for hotel bills (Marriott if I remember correctly).

Maybe I am overcautious but I would not use a card elsewhere.
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Old 21st Jan 2019, 21:38
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Originally Posted by finncapt View Post
I did a cruise, on the Mekong, from Siem Rep (or nearby) to Saigon (whatever it is called nowadays) about 5/6 years ago.

I was advised to and took USD in new singles and nothing bigger than 20$.

They were accepted everywhere.

I only used my credit card to pay for hotel bills (Marriott if I remember correctly).

Maybe I am overcautious but I would not use a card elsewhere.
Very helpful indeed, any further thoughts from the team?
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Old 21st Jan 2019, 22:29
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Not been to those countries but I'd agree about use of plastic. The only time I have had my card skimmed was in a Holiday Inn in Cape Town. But I had all the receipts and could show that I already HAD a hire car from a legit company and no need to hire another car from the company based at the back of the hotel!

Cash is King.
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Old 22nd Jan 2019, 04:04
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Not sure about Cambodia, but for Vietnam it certainly won't hurt to have some VND in your pocket for incidentals (street markets, taxis, souvenirs etc). 1,000,000 VND (around 43 USD) will go far! Any leftovers you can use to make partial payment at the hotel/airport, paying the rest by credit card
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Old 22nd Jan 2019, 04:18
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Originally Posted by yellowtriumph View Post


Very helpful indeed, any further thoughts from the team?
As with previous.
We stayed at Sofitel in PP and the ATM dispensed brand new USD.
Hotel was fine with Amex card - no problems.

USD accepted everywhere.

If anyone needs any Mongolian Tugriks just give me a call.

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Old 22nd Jan 2019, 04:43
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Originally Posted by WingNut60 View Post
As with previous.
We stayed at Sofitel in PP and the ATM dispensed brand new USD.
Hotel was fine with Amex card - no problems.

USD accepted everywhere.

If anyone needs any Mongolian Tugriks just give me a call.
Also Thai Baht accepted everywhere too. Currency and credit cards just not an issue
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Old 22nd Jan 2019, 07:37
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I'd recommend buying some Dong (VND) on arrival, if only for the experience of having those huge denomination notes in your hand.

Current rate is around £1 = 30,000 dong, so these:


are equivalent to around £17.
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Old 22nd Jan 2019, 08:47
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For Vietnam it all depends on where you are going. Last year we went on a motorcycle tour and away from the tourist areas only the VND is accepted.
Changed some USD into local currency at the airport on arrival. We flew into Hanoi and there are a number of banks so we checked the rates and went with the best.
We also found when buying that our Vietnamese guide got a better deal than we could.
Don't think I used my credit card at all dollars and dong only.
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Old 22nd Jan 2019, 09:32
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Vietnam uses Dong, best rates are from the Chinese gold shops around the edges of the main markets.

Cambodia uses the US$ for big transactions and The Riel for smaller ones. IIRC it was 4000 riel to the $. If you paid with $1 for something costing 2000 riel you got your change in riel. You could pay for a $2 tuk tuk ride with 8000 riel if you wanted to. Supermarkets used a more exact rate as the amounts involved were larger and would mount up.

Make sure your notes are relatively new and have no tears or marks on them or they will be refused. US$ is the most widely accepted foreign money, other currencies may be harder to exchange outside of the main centres and the rates will be less favourable.
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Old 22nd Jan 2019, 14:37
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Originally Posted by Jarvy View Post
For Vietnam it all depends on where you are going. Last year we went on a motorcycle tour and away from the tourist areas only the VND is accepted.
Changed some USD into local currency at the airport on arrival. We flew into Hanoi and there are a number of banks so we checked the rates and went with the best.
We also found when buying that our Vietnamese guide got a better deal than we could.
Don't think I used my credit card at all dollars and dong only.
Sounds like we are on a similar trip to finncapt, fly into Ho Chi Minh city for 3 nights, then a boat trip on the Mekong delta for around a week, then 3 nights in Siem Reap before departing. I ‘think’ most meals are covered and I would not imagine we would be going off the beaten track as it were. I just image the odd coffee/trinket stop and maybe some meals in the evening when not on board the vessel for the river trip.

The comments from everybody so far have been very useful, please keep them coming if applicable.
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Old 22nd Jan 2019, 14:47
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The other thought about plastic was: Once you leave the country and have a secure Net connection - log on to your accounts and check activity. Had I have done that, I would have found out a week earlier. That said, it was in the days before easy online access to card accounts. I only knew when my card was refused as they had soaked up the credit limit! AmEx were fine and I got it all back and a new card very quickly. With hindsight, I was able to give them exact details of the moment when the card was cloned.
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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 01:44
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Take USD, change it to local as and when you need it. Piece of p***. Major credit cards accepted and most ATMs will allow you to withdraw local currency too. Never had a problem apart from when I forgot to take USD & I was carrying only HKD (though Euro & SGD are accepted) at the airport & I needed to convert - fortunately, I had a CC that worked.
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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 05:17
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Krismiler's explanation regarding riels is how I recall it from a year ago. In VN the government had issued an edict that Dong was to be used generally, so the use of $US was considerably curtailed.
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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 06:05
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Hi yellowtriumph,

I'll chip in with my 10 ¢ (2,300 VND) worth. I lived in Saigon for a total of 11 years - 3 in the 90s and 8 from 2007.

In the 90s, US dollars were commonly used for payment in Saigon and in fact you could get them from ATMs! Nowadays, paying in US dollars is very rare and it has been actively discouraged by the government. I would pay for everything in VND - that way you don't have to worry about being ripped off with the exchange rate or falling afoul of scams where they substitute a forged US bill for the one you handed over - a friend of mine lost $100 that way!

I would bring a small amount of US cash - one hundred dollar bills for currency exchange and then small denominations for use in Cambodia, as others have advised. Make sure all the bills are in pristine condition - dirty or creased ones are often rejected. In the big cities (Saigon, Hanoi and most others), foreign credit cards and debit cards can be used at almost all ATMs to obtain VND and in my opinion, that is the safest way to obtain local currency. If you go to foreign bank ATMs (Citibank, ANZ, etc.), you can take out larger amounts - up to 8 million VND ( ~USD 350) with a fee of a couple of dollars. Local banks usually limit you to smaller amounts - 1 to 2 million.

I would not get VND outside of Vietnam. The rate will probably not be very good. If you arrive and need local currency at the airport for a taxi, then change a small amount but wait until you are in the city if you want to change larger amounts, although as I said above, ATMs are the best way to obtain VND *. If you want to change some currency, then don't do it at your hotel - go to a money changer. If you are in Saigon, I can recommend the money changer on the corner of Dong Khoi and Nguyen Thiep streets - right in the middle of the District 1 tourist area and across the road from the Sheraton Hotel. Very reliable and good rates.

A note of caution - when using an ATM, you will often be given the option of converting from VND to your bank account's currency at the terminal. I don't recommend this - you will usually get a better rate letting your bank do the FX conversion.

I would only use credit cards in hotels and possibly in tourist oriented restaurants and bars, but again, I recommend using cash. Many places charge a 3% commission on credit card transactions.

Other advice. Vietnam is a very safe place to visit, but just be aware of your surroundings. Don't stand on the edge of the pavement, holding up your 15 million VND phone. A passing motorbike may relieve you of it! I back up to a shop window if I want to use my phone in the street. The same risk applies to gold jewelry and fancy watches - leave those at home.

Local SIM cards are very cheap and include Internet access, and are a good way to keep in touch with other members of your group. Almost all bars and restaurants have free WiFi. Your hotel should be able to help you get one or direct you where to go to get one.

If you haven't got a visa yet, I recommend doing it online, since you don't have to send your passport away. For a small fee, the online company sends you a Visa on Arrival Letter, and you then obtain your visa when you arrive at the airport. For a small extra fee, you can get personalized service which allows you to jump the queue. Recommended. I have received very good service from www.evisa.com.vn.

I can pass on more advice if you let me know where you are planning to go.

* I had a friend visit me from Canada and he asked me how much he should get out of the ATM. I said "At least a million, preferably two." He said "I don't feel comfortable taking two million out", but the next day he admitted that I was right, because he needed more money. He took his ATM receipt home to show to friends - he had used his long term savings account and the balance was 83 billion VND!
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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 08:27
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Make sure you carry a couple of passport size photos if you’re getting your visa stamped into your passport on arrival, they will take your picture if you haven’t got one but the cost is well marked up. Ask for a receipt as well, they won’t provide one unless you do.
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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 08:29
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Originally Posted by India Four Two View Post
Hi yellowtriumph,

I'll chip in with my 10 ¢ (2,300 VND) worth. I lived in Saigon for a total of 11 years - 3 in the 90s and 8 from 2007.

In the 90s, US dollars were commonly used for payment in Saigon and in fact you could get them from ATMs! Nowadays, paying in US dollars is very rare and it has been actively discouraged by the government. I would pay for everything in VND - that way you don't have to worry about being ripped off with the exchange rate or falling afoul of scams where they substitute a forged US bill for the one you handed over - a friend of mine lost $100 that way!

I would bring a small amount of US cash - one hundred dollar bills for currency exchange and then small denominations for use in Cambodia, as others have advised. Make sure all the bills are in pristine condition - dirty or creased ones are often rejected. In the big cities (Saigon, Hanoi and most others), foreign credit cards and debit cards can be used at almost all ATMs to obtain VND and in my opinion, that is the safest way to obtain local currency. If you go to foreign bank ATMs (Citibank, ANZ, etc.), you can take out larger amounts - up to 8 million VND ( ~USD 350) with a fee of a couple of dollars. Local banks usually limit you to smaller amounts - 1 to 2 million.

I would not get VND outside of Vietnam. The rate will probably not be very good. If you arrive and need local currency at the airport for a taxi, then change a small amount but wait until you are in the city if you want to change larger amounts, although as I said above, ATMs are the best way to obtain VND *. If you want to change some currency, then don't do it at your hotel - go to a money changer. If you are in Saigon, I can recommend the money changer on the corner of Dong Khoi and Nguyen Thiep streets - right in the middle of the District 1 tourist area and across the road from the Sheraton Hotel. Very reliable and good rates.

A note of caution - when using an ATM, you will often be given the option of converting from VND to your bank account's currency at the terminal. I don't recommend this - you will usually get a better rate letting your bank do the FX conversion.

I would only use credit cards in hotels and possibly in tourist oriented restaurants and bars, but again, I recommend using cash. Many places charge a 3% commission on credit card transactions.

Other advice. Vietnam is a very safe place to visit, but just be aware of your surroundings. Don't stand on the edge of the pavement, holding up your 15 million VND phone. A passing motorbike may relieve you of it! I back up to a shop window if I want to use my phone in the street. The same risk applies to gold jewelry and fancy watches - leave those at home.

Local SIM cards are very cheap and include Internet access, and are a good way to keep in touch with other members of your group. Almost all bars and restaurants have free WiFi. Your hotel should be able to help you get one or direct you where to go to get one.

If you haven't got a visa yet, I recommend doing it online, since you don't have to send your passport away. For a small fee, the online company sends you a Visa on Arrival Letter, and you then obtain your visa when you arrive at the airport. For a small extra fee, you can get personalized service which allows you to jump the queue. Recommended. I have received very good service from www.evisa.com.vn.

I can pass on more advice if you let me know where you are planning to go.

* I had a friend visit me from Canada and he asked me how much he should get out of the ATM. I said "At least a million, preferably two." He said "I don't feel comfortable taking two million out", but the next day he admitted that I was right, because he needed more money. He took his ATM receipt home to show to friends - he had used his long term savings account and the balance was 83 billion VND!
Thank you for your extensive reply and info. Just a quick reply for the moment as I have to go out shortly.

We enter Vietnam for 3 days, then river boat to Cambodia over a week, then a few days in Cambodia.

We are told by our tour operator.
1. Vietnam does not require a visa for tourist visitors for up to 15 days (this concession available until 30 June 2021)
2. Cambodia does require a visa, but that we can obtain one onboard our river boat and that the cost is 50USD. Our operator says that online visas can be obtained but that at River Border crossings these are not acceptable. We will need two passport sized photos as part of the application process.

Thank for your offer of further help, I may well get back to you. yt.

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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 12:01
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No visa for UK citizens into Vietnam. Arrive at airport stand in line then a stamp in your passport. Just make sure you get an exit stamp when you leave.
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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 14:46
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Jarvy.

I am interested to hear that UK passport holders do not now need a visa for Vietnam.

When we went, several years ago, my wife, Finnish, did not need a visa and the Finnish tour operator, with whom we went, and I assumed that I wouldn't.

It was sorted out by the purser on the boat for far less than the British fellow boat passengers had paid in the UK, much to my chagrin!!

YT

Talking with my wife, and thinking about it, she seems to think that I exchanged some Cambodian for USD while waiting for our bags in Siem Rep.

Probably bought some Dong, as well, as Mrs F is an inveterate market goer!!

We got our visas, on arrival at Siem Rep airport, so I suspect 2 is correct.

We went in February and whilst I didn't have trouble with mosquitoes (too much tonic water?) Mrs F did on, after dinner, runs ashore.

I suggest, if either of you are prone to being bitten, that some mild hydrocortisone cream is a good idea, it does take the pain away.

There seemed to be mosquitoes in Vietnam but not in Cambodia.

I hope you enjoy the trip as much as we did - I would certainly do it again.

If you want another, similar cruise, in that part of the world, I can recommend the Irrawady (Rangoon, Bagan cruise to Mandalay).



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Old 23rd Jan 2019, 15:39
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yt,

The visa information from your tour operator is correct. The visa-free tourist entry is relatively new.

You might want to read this thread about the "US Embassy Helicopter" picture. Not many tourists are aware that the building in question is still standing, although recently, I have noticed guides pointing it out to tour-groups:

http://www.pprune.org/aviation-histo...ago-today.html
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