If you’re planning to travel to Asia, it might surprise you; what currency you should use, where and why you should use that currency.
In Vietnam, the standard currency is the Vietnamese Dong. If you plan on buying things within Vietnam, it would be good if you should have Vietnamese Dong for your expenses. In both Cambodia and Laos, they use their local currency, but the US dollar is also widely accepted. In Cambodia, I could get US dollars out of the ATMs.
Best Currency of Vietnam
The best currency for Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong. Some menus are written in US dollars, but now most places have everything in Vietnamese Dong.
At the hotel, you may find that they may quote you a US dollar price, but then they ask you to pay in Dong. Some hotels will accept US dollars.
But generally, if a hotel, restaurant, or shop accepts US dollars, they may not give you the most favorable exchange rate. You are usually better off going to an ATM and withdrawing the Dong out of the ATM to use that money in Vietnam.
Throughout all of Vietnam, there are many ATMs for foreign banks such as HSBC and Citibank.
For some reason, if you do not need US dollars, most Vietnamese will exchange their Dong for US dollars by going to the downtown areas of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh; they exchange the money at a shop such as a jewelry store. These stores act as foreign exchange banks.
Most hotels will also exchange your money for Vietnamese Dong.
Best Currency in Cambodia
Cambodia is one country in Southeast Asia where US dollars are widely accepted. When I go to an ATM in Cambodia, I can withdraw the money in US dollars.
Cambodia is very different from Vietnam; in Vietnam, we have a US dollar account, and the money that comes into Vietnam is in US dollars, but legally we have to exchange it for Vietnamese Dong. If we want US dollars, we need to change it back into US dollars.
Unlike Vietnam, for Cambodia, the best currency for you to use is US dollars. Cambodia has its money, and many times, when you give them US dollars, they will give you back the change in the Cambodian currency. You can still use the local currency in Cambodia, but most Cambodian shops, especially those selling to foreigners, widely accept the US dollar.
Best Currency in Laos
US dollar is also widely accepted in Laos. Laos has its official currency, which is known as the Kip, but the US dollar is widely accepted for money transactions; it is good for you to have US dollar cash when you enter Laos.
You may go to many restaurants where the foreigners frequently go and find the menu is in US dollars and not in the local currency. A US dollar menu can be common in many places such as Cambodia and Laos and even some places in Vietnam.
Tips About Getting Cash In Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos
Well, I am traveling in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos. I usually withdraw money from the local ATMs for what I need during my visit. I typically find this convenient and more accessible than carrying a lot of cash into these countries.
Also, if you plan on using credit cards, you should know that many stores will charge you an extra percent for the use of credit cards. They charge an additional percent because the credit card companies will charge them this percent so that they will pass that charge onto you.
Another thing you need to be aware of is if you bring US dollars cash into any of these countries, make sure the money is clean and crisp; the US dollar cash should not be torn or have tape on them or any other issues. Asia does not like US dollars that look like they have been heavily used or are marked up.
Even for their local currencies, I have had shops refuse money if they felt the cash was not clean or crisp or had a small tear in them. The shops do not want to accept the currency because they may have difficulty turning it into the bank or using it
Carefully check any money you were given by anyone, especially a shop, change for a taxi or restaurant. There is a lot of fake currency running around in these places, and if you are a foreigner and they think you will not notice, they may try to slip you a fake currency, especially if they got stuck with one.
None of these countries will accept the US dollar coins. So do not try to pay anything in a coin because they will not accept the US dollar coins. Instead, they will give you a change of $.50 or $.75 in the local currency.
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