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Living costs in Vietnam

Updated February 27, 2024

Table of Contents

Currency in Vietnam

Vietnam’s currency is the Vietnam Dong (VND). It is the most common use currency in Vietnam’s daily life and you should exchange some before entering the country. The currency exchange rate between VND and major foreign currencies (for reference only) is as below:

$




Exchanging money

The best place to exchange your money is at a local bank or a gold store. Many banks, open Monday to Friday (from 8 AM to 5:30 PM), may issue cash advances for Visa, MasterCard, and JCB usually for a specified commission. American Express is less popular in Vietnam, still. 

Old, torn, or faded foreign notes can be difficult to exchange, so make sure you bring new or clean bills in small denominations. US $100 Dollar notes pre 2009 Series are often not accepted, and it is advisable to bring bill from US $50 to exchange more easily.

For gold stores at Ho Chi Minh City, you can check out Ha Tam Jewelry or ask your local hosts for best places.

Credit card

Credit cards are accepted in 80% restaurants, supermarkets, shopping malls, and convenience stores but not in certain grocery stores, local markets, or local and street food stalls. Few establishments will accept US currency (USD). You can check the Visa or Mastercard decals at the front doors, windows or at payment counters.

Please also keep in mind that remember to inform your bank about your abroad traveling. And so that, you may withdraw money from ATMs, or use a credit card while you travel. Otherwise, the bank might block your account from withdrawing to prevent your card/information stolen.

NFC Payment method such as Apple Pay and Google Pay is now functional in Vietnam, in addition to already popular means of payment in Vietnam such as Samsung Pay and credit cards from Visa and Mastercard. That means you can now complete your payment with your Apple Watch ⌚️.

ATMs

ATMs are widely available throughout Vietnam. This is the easiest and safest way of accessing money. ATMs also offer the best exchange rate. Be careful to cover the pin pad when entering your PIN and double-check for the fake clone pad. To withdraw larger amounts of money, ATMs for international banks offer higher limits than those of local Vietnamese banks (Use Google Map to find the nearest ATMs).


Living costs in Vietnam

Apart from our program fees that help you get settled in Vietnam, it is suggested that you always carry a certain amount of pocket money to survive here during the time of your program.

In most cases, how much you spend depends mostly on what you want to purchase or the service level you want to use. However, in general, the living cost in Vietnam affordable and is around 70% lower than in the US.
Do you believe with just US $500/month you will basically have everything you need for your new life abroad, from housing, food, transportation to leisure activities?

The following tables reveal the reasons why you can make it happen in Vietnam:

Accommodation

By accommodation, we mean a safe and private room which usually consists of the following conditions and is a great shelter for your new life in Vietnam. It is not a place for you to just sleep, but truly your second home abroad.

You can check out further details and pictures of the different types of rooms you can choose for your stay in Vietnam here.


Transportation

Once you are in Vietnam, our program coordinator and local buddies will guide you to use some of the most popular means of transportation in the country which you can easily commute to work and travel around by yourself. Fare for each of them is shown as below:

Besides, there are a few kinds of public transportation which are suitable to use for city day tours, like red bus, waterbus, bicycle, cyclo (local tricycle), etc.

While Uber is no longer available in Vietnam since 2018, ride hailing apps like Grab, Be and Gojeck are widely available with new options for electric vehicles from Xanh SM.

If you are into public transportation like bus, we highly recommend using BusMap mobile application – which is a smart traffic technology product for more convenient and intelligent public transportation use in Vietnam. Here’s the full guide to using the bus in Vietnam

Cost of Internet and phone services

SIM cards in Vietnam are incredibly affordable. For just $5, you can purchase a SIM card that comes with 2 GBs of mobile data. If you are looking for a monthly data plan, you can acquire 28 GBs of mobile data for just $6 (120,000 VND).
The Internet is often included in the rent of apartments in Vietnam. The cost of Internet service here is quite affordable. Most apartments and houses come equipped with pre-installed internet access that is readily available when you move in.

Food & drinks

Living in Vietnam presents a unique opportunity to explore a vibrant and affordable food scene. You can utilize various dining options to suit your budget and preferences:

  • Experience local charm: Opting for self-prepared meals is a cost-effective approach, with fresh ingredients readily available at local markets for as low as $1-$2 per meal. Vegan options are often even more budget-conscious. Immersing yourself in local markets adds cultural flair to your meals.
  • Convenience delivered: Craving diverse culinary experiences? Food delivery apps like ShopeeFood, Grab Food, and Go Food offer access to a plethora of restaurants. Be mindful of potential delivery fees and slightly higher prices compared to dining in person.
  • From streetside delights to refined settings: Vietnam’s renowned street food scene will surprise your taste buds, typically priced at $1-$2 per dish. Casual restaurants and fast-food chains cater to sit-down experiences with average meal costs ranging from $3-$4. For a more upscale ambiance, restaurants offer enticing options starting at $6 and upwards.

Pro tip: Local markets provide a multisensory immersion into Vietnamese culture while offering the best deals on fresh produce and regional specialties.

Remember, these are estimated costs, and actual prices may vary depending on location, cuisine type, and restaurant selection.

Further information & additional resources

Helpful notes:

Additional resources:

The above Vietnam living costs are subject to change and just for your reference. Don’t hesitate to contact ABROADER team for updated information via apply@abroader.o

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