Vietnam remains a cash economy, it is thought that some 90% of all financial transactions are made with cash. Our currency is the Vietnamese Dong (VND) but the $US is widely accepted. There are ATM’s in most major centers, they usually dispense just 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 VND with a fee (though sometimes more depending on the bank) – you are normally free to make several withdrawals each day.
Credit/Debit Cards such as VISA & MASTERCARD are accepted in most major hotels, tailors and up-market shops and restaurants – Diners Card & AMEX can be problematic as can exchanging money outside of our major towns & cities.
Most smaller shops, homestays, eateries and other outlets (i.e. the majority) accept cash only.
Major world currencies can be changed at various locations including Da Nang International Airport, banks, hotels & some gold/silver shops etc. I find most clients bring a mix of payment methods when visiting my country – cash in the form of major currencies i.e. USD, AUD, Euro, GBP, NZD, CAD, etc and credit/debit/ATM cards. Some use pre-loaded MasterCard or Visa credit card, but I understand card & bank fees should be checked before using these.
From a practical point of view, you should really ensure currency for exchange is clean, unmarked and unfolded, larger denominations are preferred (especially for the Indian Rupiah) – money exchanges can refuse to change otherwise. Many day-to-day purchases in Vietnam are for relatively small amounts so you should ask for some smaller denomination VND notes at the exchange.
Please do contact me if you are still unsure about your money & traveling in Vietnam