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Vietnam HCMC holiday - changing THB to Dong and SIM Card

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Staying in District 1 in Ho Chi Minh. Planning on taking AUD and THB cash.

 

1. For THB is it best to exchange it in Vietnam? I've read some Thai people have said it's best to change THB to USD here, as THB rates aren't good in Vietnam, or that it's difficult to change it there. But then some say it's fine just to bring THB.

2. Some currency needs to be changed at the airport for a taxi etc. to the hotel. Airports  always give poor rates. I've read that around 500k Dong should be changed. Does that sound right?

3. If getting a prepaid SIM with only internet access (or including very little credit for phone calls) for a 4 day trip, are there any recommendations on this?

 

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Posted (edited)

You can usually find a gold shop or bank that will give you 700kVND for 1,000bht.

But easiest is to just use the ATMs.

Most of them will only give a max 2,000,000VND but the exchange rate works out at almost the same amount.

(I got 694kVND per thousand baht from my Bangkok Bank VISA, that's including the fees at both ends) 

 

Mobifon worked well for me in HCMC, 140kVND from a corner shop, 9GB internet included, lasted two trips.

Vietmobile wasn't so good, 120kVND from another corner shop, but the internet stopped working by mid-afternoon each day, that was this week.

The official stores wanted 250kVND from foreigners which is why I was going to the unofficial re-sellers.

Edited by BritManToo
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, BritManToo said:

You can usually find a gold shop or bank that will give you 700kVND for 1,000bht.

But easiest is to just use the ATMs.

Most of them will only give a max 2,000,000VND but the exchange rate works out at almost the same amount.

(I got 694kVND per thousand baht from my Bangkok Bank VISA, that's including the fees at both ends) 

 

Mobifon worked well for me in HCMC, 140kVND from a corner shop, 9GB internet included, lasted two trips.

Vietmobile wasn't so good, 120kVND from another corner shop, but the internet stopped working by mid-afternoon each day, that was this week.

The official stores wanted 250kVND from foreigners which is why I was going to the unofficial re-sellers.

Thanks. Is it best to book a Grab or Uber once arriving at the airport instead of queuing for a Vinasun or Mai Linh taxi? Will there be much of a price difference?

Edited by bbi1

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24 minutes ago, BritManToo said:

What's wrong with the bus?

Out the arrivals door to the road, on the right is the bus stop, ticket 20,000vnd or $1, leaves every 20 minutes.

Drops you off at District 1, September park, the market or the bus station, up to you.

Looking at the yellow 40k VND shuttle bus map it looks like it stops quite far from where the hotel is, meaning about a 1 to 1.5km walk afterwards. Hotel is near Hai Ba Trung and Dinh Cong Trang, towards the end of Dinh Cong Trang.

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, bbi1 said:

Looking at the yellow 40k VND shuttle bus map it looks like it stops quite far from where the hotel is, meaning about a 1 to 1.5km walk afterwards. Hotel is near Hai Ba Trung and Dinh Cong Trang, towards the end of Dinh Cong Trang.

I always book hotels near September park.

They don't cost any more, a little thinking ahead saves $$$$$$$$s.

And the bus costs 20k.

Edited by BritManToo
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On 10/9/2019 at 8:50 AM, BritManToo said:

I always book hotels near September park.

They don't cost any more, a little thinking ahead saves $$$$$$$$s.

And the bus costs 20k.

Do you know of any good hospitals around District 1 in case its needed? Thanks

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On 10/9/2019 at 6:55 AM, BritManToo said:

You can usually find a gold shop or bank that will give you 700kVND for 1,000bht.

But easiest is to just use the ATMs.

Most of them will only give a max 2,000,000VND but the exchange rate works out at almost the same amount.

(I got 694kVND per thousand baht from my Bangkok Bank VISA, that's including the fees at both ends) 

 

Mobifon worked well for me in HCMC, 140kVND from a corner shop, 9GB internet included, lasted two trips.

Vietmobile wasn't so good, 120kVND from another corner shop, but the internet stopped working by mid-afternoon each day, that was this week.

The official stores wanted 250kVND from foreigners which is why I was going to the unofficial re-sellers.

Did you use the ATM at airport? 
I won’t have local currency when I arrive there in Dec. also is it the same bus that stops at Ben Than market? Thanks 

Edited by alex8912

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On 10/12/2019 at 3:24 PM, bbi1 said:

Do you know of any good hospitals around District 1 in case its needed? Thanks

This hospital is the one recommended by expats.

 

https://www.fvhospital.com/

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Last time I used the ATM at the airport, I had no problem withdrawing 6,000,000 with no fees, using my Monzo card.

 

Grab works really well if you want door to door service and a lot cheaper than local taxis.

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I usually get some VND from SuperRich in Bangkok before flying to Vietnam. Their exchange rate is excellent, so if you have THB in Thailand anyway, that's a good option. I wouldn't take THB to Vietnam, but as said, you could exchange at gold shops. Otherwise I carry USD, simply because it's less bulky. ATM limits differ wildly, typically from 3 million VND to 10 million VND with foreign cards. Lower limits more common than higher limits. I've used Visa debit cards from Thailand for withdrawals occasionally, without any issues.

 

As for a prepaid SIM card, I'm happy with Viettel. If you want to keep it beyond a short trip, make sure to buy it at a proper shop that registers the SIM card in your own name - passport required. If you plan to throw it away after your trip, no worries, you can even buy a tourist SIM card at the airport.

 

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Can't speak for changing Dong, but for the phone, if you have a Dtac sim, their go-inter package will suit you. If you don't, you can buy a pre-packaged go-inter sim, and take some refill cards with you "just in case". You can use their internet calling app as if you were in Thailand, when online. Worked a treat for me in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia, quite seamless coverage.

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The Saigon airport, exchange rate for USD is quite good, slightly less then the goldshops. Thai Baht :bad at the airport, bad at gold shops, if they accept it at all. Banks don't change Baht. If you are staying IN HCMC city, I found one licensed money changer near district 1 that offered an excellent rate for Baht. In the provinces forget about the Baht.

I would advise against using Thai debit cards in Vietnam:while the official fees are acceptable, the hidden charges in the form of currency conversion rates amounted to  a 7 % loss (compared to cash conversion at money changer), that at least was the case with my Krungthai debit card. 

I have been using a Viettel package for 2 years now :I think it was 50000 dong for the Sim, and another 50k monthly 3GB Internet, no calls included. That is a lot cheaper than Thailand where I paid 400 Baht per month for 4GB.

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On 10/9/2019 at 6:55 AM, BritManToo said:

You can usually find a gold shop or bank that will give you 700kVND for 1,000bht.

But easiest is to just use the ATMs.

Most of them will only give a max 2,000,000VND but the exchange rate works out at almost the same amount.

(I got 694kVND per thousand baht from my Bangkok Bank VISA, that's including the fees at both ends) 

 

Mobifon worked well for me in HCMC, 140kVND from a corner shop, 9GB internet included, lasted two trips.

Vietmobile wasn't so good, 120kVND from another corner shop, but the internet stopped working by mid-afternoon each day, that was this week.

The official stores wanted 250kVND from foreigners which is why I was going to the unofficial re-sellers.

Just t update on ATM's some are now available up to 5m dong

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In August 2019, we needed a little more Dong for last day of our trip, so exchanged 2k Baht at Ha Tam Jewelry across street from Ben Thanh Market west entrance in District 1. Prior to our HCMC trip, we exchanged 10k Baht to Dong in Chiang Mai.

 

Our HCMC trip report: 

https://forum.thaivisa.com/topic/1119531-report-multi-entry-non-immigrant-o-visa-thai-spouse-from-hcmc/

 

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