A guide to Vietnamese dong notes

One of the things you should get used to when travelling is another country’s denomination. In Vietnam, you’ll be dealing with really large numbers and mostly in cash (Cash is a popular form of payment in Vietnam. Hence, wherever you go, remember to bring some cash with you!) If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how Vietnamese dong came to look the way it does or what all the symbols mean – well, you might find this post rather helpful.

Every country puts images of important figures, monuments that shaped its history and identity. So does Vietnam! Easily the most recognizable figure that graces our notes is Ho Chi Minh or ‘Uncle Ho’ – the greatest leader in Vietnamese history. Ho Chi Minh is one of the most influential and famous politicians of the 20th century who had dedicated his whole life to fight for an independent and united Vietnam. He appears on school signs, big ceremonies, competitions and on all of our currency notes. Despite the fact that Uncle Ho passed away 50 years ago, he is always and forever will be in our hearts.

Let’s have a look at the reverse side of the notes, starting from the smallest 100 VND note to the largest 500,000 VND. We’re thoroughly impressed by the detail in these notes. 

1. 100 đồng: Chùa Tháp Phổ Minh – Nam Định

The picture on the 100 VND note is a tower at Pho Minh Pagoda (Nam Dinh). Besides the Tran temple, Pho Minh pagoda is a historic monument from the Tran dynasty which resides in Nam Dinh. It is a centre of religion and belief in the Red River Delta region. Special celebratory events are held every year here to commemorate the Tran dynasty.

2. 500 đồng: Cảng Hải Phòng

The 500 VND note features an image of Hai Phong port. It is a cluster national-level integrated seaports, the second-largest in Vietnam and the largest in the North. Hai Phong port is considered as Vietnam’s international gateway.

3. 1.000 đồng: Tây Nguyên

This picture depicts a typical day of people in the highland region of Vietnam. In the picture, a lumberjack is riding an elephant to carry chopped tree chunks from the forest. People in the Highland consider forests to be the source of everything. Being born and raised under the shade of huge trees, they have a deeply rooted connection with the forests – their origins. The forests give them food, shelter, fire and more so the memorable childhood surrounding nature and wild animals.

4. 5.000 đồng: Nhà máy thủy điện Trị An

On the blue 5,000 VND note is Tri An Hydroelectric Plant which was built on the Dong Nai River in 1984-1986, with the assistance of the Soviet Union. The plant was inaugurated and put into use in 1991.

5. 10.000 đồng: Mỏ dầu Bạch Hổ

The VND 10,000 note is the Bach Ho oil field in the Cuu Long basin. The mine is located in the southeast, about 145 km from Vung Tau coast. This is the main oil supply field for Vietnam today.

6. 20.000 đồng: Chùa Cầu Hội An

If you ever set foot in Hoi An, you will notice this unique bridge which was built by Japanese merchants. There is an interesting story behind this bridge. There was a monster named Nazamu – a sea monster in Japanese legend. This monster has a head located in India, a body in Vietnam, and the tail runs all the way to Japan. So every time it shakes its tail, it causes an earthquake in Japan and floods in Hoi An. Therefore, the bridge was built with the meaning of a sword stabbing Namazu’s back, preventing it from shaking. This is considered a symbol of Japanese – Chinese – Vietnamese cultural exchange in Hoi An.

7. 50.000 đồng: Di tích Nghênh Lương Đình – Phu Văn Lâu

Nghenh Luong Dinh – Phu Van Lau vestige complex (Hue) is printed on the face of the 50,000 VND polymer banknotes. The architectural work of this historical place is associated with the Nguyen Dynasty. It lies on the banks of the Huong River and is used as a resting place for the king. Phu Van Lau was built under Gia Long’s reign as a place to post important imperial and imperial edict or results of examinations organized by the court.

8. 100.000 đồng: Văn Miếu – Quốc Tử Giám

Appearing on the bill of the 100,000 VND polymer is Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam – the first university in Vietnam. It is considered a symbol of the longevity of the culture, education, tradition of respectful religion, morality, and talent of the nation. 

9. 200.000 đồng: Vịnh Hạ Long

This is a small bay in the western part of the Gulf of Tonkin in the Northeast Sea of Vietnam, including the islands of Ha Long City, Cam Pha City and part of Van Don Island District of Quang Ninh Province. It was voted as one of the 7 new natural wonders of the world in 2012. Ha Long Bay is a great work of art with emerald water, luscious trees, a scatter of islands and enormous caves that are both vivid and mysterious.

10. 500.000 đồng: Làng Sen

VND 500,000 is the largest single currency bill in our country today, an image of a 5-room house in Sen village (Nam Dan, Nghe An), reminiscent of a simple Vietnamese village.

The house belongs to Kim Lien relic area, a tourist centre that keeps artifacts, culture evidence and historical documents about the childhood of President Ho Chi Minh and his family members. 

Kim Lien historical relic is included in the list of special national monuments and is one of the four most important monuments in Vietnam for President Ho Chi Minh.

In addition to the above famous tourist sites, other money denominations of Vietnam are also printed with employees’ pictures at Tri An hydroelectric plant, Nam Dinh textile factory, and the Central Highlands … 

OK, so these are all the Vietnamese currency notes. We think by explaining the images, you will then be able to recognise them better because some notes have similar colours such as the 5000 VND, 20,000 VND and 500,000 VND. Make sure you give the right one when tipping! Find more handy travel tips and helpful hints here!