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Money in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam

Travel Forums Asia Money in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam

1. Posted by Beckiboo (Respected Member 134 posts) 9y

I'm heading to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam early next year. Beforehand I will be in India and Thailand (from next month).

What's the best plan with regard to taking out money for these countries? My original plan was to take some rupees out initially for India, then take money out from ATM's as and when I need it, the same for Thailand.

I've heard there aren't many ATM's in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam? How do I go about getting currency for these countries? Is it best if I change some up here in the UK before I go? Or can I buy currency from Bangkok or a similar main city?

Thanks in advance

2. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 9y

In Lao, ATMS only in Vientienne (not many), but you can get cash advances on credit cards in all toursit places, banks, travel agents etc. Cambodia there are a few ATMS in Siem Riep and PP.

In Cambodia, the Dollar is the de facto currency anyway, and you pay for anything with dollars, using local Riel just for small change etc. Officially in Lao, it is illegal to pay with dollars, but Lao airlines now only accept dollars, and many prices are listed in dollars as well (even if you then have to pay in local). In Vientienne, some shops/guest houses etc will also accept Thai Bhat, and some quote prices only in Bhat.

Vietnam has more ATMS, and in all main touristy areas. Again cash advances easy. Here proces will be noted in dollars, but you are better of paying in Dong. ALWAYS haggle - in Vietnam you have to haggle for everything, everywhere - in Dong not dollars, as you will get much better deals and save money that way.

Note that getting rid of all 3 outside of each the country (excepting some border posts, or at very bad rates in places like Thailand) is very hard, so exchange anything back to USD or use it befor you leave. Failing that, try and find another traveller going in the opposite direction.

Carry a stash of dollars with you, noting that they all need to be clean and crisp (not marked or torn) and relatively new (10years). Try and have a mix up of denominations as well. A few large notes are useful, but 1s, 5s, 10s and 20s are more flexible, as getting change from a 100ussd bill is unlikely. Bhat is the second most useful hard currency to carry and easy to change.

Be aware of the exchange rates from Riel, Kip and Dong to Dollar so (a) you don't get fleeced when you change, and (b) you know how to convert, as prices are generally listed in dollars even when you have to pay in local. From memory earlier this year 1 usd was 4000 riel, 10500 kip and 27000 dong, but check it at www.xe.com

3. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 9y

Becki,
Your ATM idea is still sound. Every airport will change your money for you once there. Usually at a better rate than your home country.

Thailand is no problem as there are plenty of ATMs around. The US dollar is the de facto currency in Cam. Laos & VN. All larger purchases are made in USD in these countries. You can convert your euros or British Pds into local currency or USD. I carry some travel checks as well. Take $500 in TCs and you will have a backup when ATMs are scarce. When in VN, Laos & Cam. use the ATMs in the large cities before leaving. Now you will have plenty of $ for the rural and smaller towns.

I would have an undergarmet money pouch to make it difficult for the thieves. Good Luck Becki.

4. Posted by Beckiboo (Respected Member 134 posts) 9y

So you'd advise me to have the main bulk of my money in USD, but also carry some local currency for small purchases?

Is it better for me to get this currency here in England? I will be in India for a month and a half, then Thailand for two months before I reach Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, so it would mean carrying it around for about three months!! Or are there plenty of exchange places in Thailand which I could get USD / Local currency?

5. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 9y

Quoting Beckiboo

So you'd advise me to have the main bulk of my money in USD, but also carry some local currency for small purchases?

Is it better for me to get this currency here in England? I will be in India for a month and a half, then Thailand for two months before I reach Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, so it would mean carrying it around for about three months!! Or are there plenty of exchange places in Thailand which I could get USD / Local currency?

Becki,
Use your ATM stategy until Cambodia, Laos or VN. You won't need USD until then. All the banks and the money changers I used in Phnom Penh and HaNoi will get you into USD or local currency. Or you could load up with Thai baht from the ATMs before leaving and just convert baht into USD & local. Becki, you can get a boatload of local and use that. You don't need USD, it's just handy for larger purchases.

6. Posted by Beckiboo (Respected Member 134 posts) 9y

Thanks Mike, that's put my mind at rest

I had visions of me carrying a sack load of currency around India before I finally reached the other countries!

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