In Vietnam, people don’t pay with euros or pounds, but with the Vietnamese Dong. However, the Vietnam visa can be easily applied for in pounds or euros. Here, you can read everything regarding money and payment habits in Vietnam.
Exchange currency before departure?
In general, it is not necessary to exchange pounds or euros for Vietnamese Dong (VND) before leaving for Vietnam. When you arrive at the airport in Vietnam, you can always find ATMs where you can easily withdraw cash. Take note that banks often charge per debit card transaction. It is therefore advisable not to withdraw a low amount several times a day, but a higher amount that can last you several days.
At the airport, pounds and euros can also be exchanged for Dong, but this is generally not recommended. Exchange offices often have high commission and administration costs, and unfavourable exchange rates, which makes it cheaper to withdraw Vietnamese Dong at an ATM yourself.
Activate debit card for usage in Vietnam
Most British and Irish banks have taken measures to combat international fraud with debit cards. The use of debit cards outside of Europe is therefore often automatically blocked, and must be activated before departure. Always check with your bank before departure if you can use your debit card in Vietnam. The use of debit cards outside Europe can usually be activated on the website or in the app of the concerning bank.
Pay for the visa cost in pounds
Travellers applying for their Vietnam e-visa pay for all of the visa fees before departure. On e-Visa.ie, the costs of the visa are conveniently paid in pounds and not in Dong or any other currency. This way, there are no unfavourable exchange rates and the total costs always remain the same. Travellers with a Vietnam e-visa can go straight to the border control upon arrival, and do not have to wait in line to pay the stamping fee for a stamp in the passport.
Take note: Many websites claim that they can help you apply for an e-visa (electronic Vietnam visa), but in reality you are only applying for an approval letter for a visa on arrival. The Vietnamese embassy advises against using the old visa on arrival and recommends all travelers to apply for the e-visa. Travelers who do not have an e-visa, but only an approval letter, will have to pay extra on arrival at the airport for a stamp in the passport, the so-called stamping fee.
If you submit your application on e-Visa.ie, all costs are included and you do not have to pay anything for your visa upon arrival in Vietnam.
Credit card required?
Credit cards are widely accepted in Vietnam, and are in fact the preferred payment method over debit cards. However, debit cards are also accepted, as long as they have a Cirrus or Maestro logo. Travellers from countries where debit cards are popular should consider also carrying a credit card. If the debit card is not accepted, you will still be able to pay or withdraw money. Keep in mind that paying with a credit card generally comes with higher transaction costs compared to paying with a debit card. If you possess both, it is advised to primarily pay with your debit card.
Payment habits in Vietnam
Vietnam is a relatively cheap destination for British and Irish travellers. The daily costs for accommodation, food and drink and transport are low. Cheap accommodation (e.g. for backpackers) can be found for as little as £5 per night, and more luxurious stays cost an average of £35 per night. Moreover, it is customary in Vietnam to haggle. At local stores and markets, you can negotiate up to half of the total price. Bargaining is not possible at larger chain stores or hotels.
Keep in mind that it is customary in Vietnam to tip, for example guides, bag carriers and employees in restaurants. This is usually about 10 percent of the amount. At more expensive hotels or restaurants, a service fee is sometimes automatically added to the bill, in which case there is no need to tip.