Hi All. Just after some advice. Travelling from Australia to Vietnam. Aware that the preferred currency is in US Dollars all good, my concern is travelling carrying money. We intend in the first day after arrival in Hanoi to go to Halong Bay and overnight on a Junk. Obviously whilst staying in hotels etc there are safety deposit boxes in rooms etc, whilst touring on the junk what do people do with money and passports and documentation etc. We would like to change money here in Aus while the rate is ok. Any feedback appreciated.
Keeping valuables safe while traveling is always a concern. You need to have an undergarmet pouch to keep your passport, money, credit cards, travel checks, etc out of sight. For real security, you might want to consider Pac-safe. When you have to leave your bag unattended, this product will make it difficult for thieves to steal from you. Keep items you cannot afford to lose in your pouch, camera, MP3, glasses, etc. in a day bag that you never let out of your sight. Good luck with your trip.
Thanks once again VegasMike. Have looked at your suggestions and will shop around for the pouch. Have read your blogs and have all helped. No doubt between now and the time of travel being Mid September, I'll have more questions coming.
I would urge you not to carry large amounts of cash, but to use the many ATM's in country. I'm American, and only used Dong. Just use your common sense concerning valuables - would you leave them unattended at home? If you're going kayaking you can use waterproof pouches to hold documents and camera. I never lost a cent in 2 trips to VN (considerably safer than the USA!)
My personal advice is keep everything on your person. The safest place is with you, but that depends on your confidence and how well you can defend yourself.
Safes are great, but are not 100%.
I found Vietnam to be safe. The people are friendly and certainly there isn't the violence that exists in the States. There are bandits that cruise around (particularly on bikes) but just be aware of where you are. You wouldn't be that safe cruising at night flashing your money around at home in some places, so use that everywhere. The police are pretty forcefull, so won't have any problems in populated areas where they can be seen. Some of the river areas aren't the best, but so long as you don't walk around flaunting jewellery etc you should be okay. Look confident.
As for money belts......silliest thing I have ever heard of (but that is my opinion). It sends a clear message that you have something valuable enough to carry with your life.....it can make you a target. I think it is much better to carry valuables close to your body, but in your pocket. Obviously this requires you to pay attention, but they will have to cut your hand off to get it. A money belt can be cut from behind and taken without you even knowing. I don't think you have to worry about any of this....just giving a different perspective on the money belt thing.
I don't think that you have to worry where you are going. I would just sleep with it in my clothes...that sounds like the best thing to do. Vietnam is totally safe, but it is the theft capital....so just be aware and that will probably be the best thing you can do.
I would definately change money where you are. The exchange rate is quite good. Get enough dong (is sometimes hard to get and has to be ordered as some places don't have a license to echange it) and take some US dollars (in clean crisp bills) as that is the only thing else they will take or exchange. Some places will even do deals on exchanging leftovers on the way back (travellex ..I think it is called???)
Hsve a great time.....and just use common sense...that is the best advice.
Daawgn thanks for your reply, last time travelling o/s we used atm's and the costs involved by my bank bank here in oz were horrendous, that was my thoughts on why to get some US dollars before we travelled.
Also thanks to kevandshan, might have already done the wrong thing, already changed some money to US dollars however they are not brand new notes, not tacky but certainly not new, should I change them back or do you think they'll be ok, never even considered the fact they may not be accepted. Am confident enough to carry just wasn't sure of what other people do, especially whilst canoeing around halong bay. Thanks again.
I found Vietnam to be very safe, we were there for almost a month and never had any problems whatsoever. I would definitely recommend getting Vietnamese dong, as we found it to be the preferred currency. The only times I ever used US $ was to pay for tours, train tickets and the occasional hotel. We just withdrew money from the ATM, usually 2 million dong at a time (most ATM's seem to have that as a limit), which you will be surprised at how long it lasts you. Things are so cheap comparatively to Australia that the additional fees occurred at the ATM didn't really seem that steep.
When we were at Halong Bay I just left everything in our cabin, we probably at times were a little lax about security but never had anything happen to us. If we were walking around I tended to leave most of the money at the hotel, and then just take small amounts out (normally in my pockets, not sure if that is wise but it worked well). Getting out a big bank roll of notes and peeling them off is never a good idea, and it's very handy to have smaller notes for bargaining purposes.
I'm really not a fan of Pacsafe, I took one with me and never used it once. To me it just makes it look like you have something worth stealing, but I'm sure other people will disagree with me.
Have a brilliant time, I loved Vietnam, and found it safe at all times.
Should be okay with notes, maybe iron them to make them look crisp and new. Or, if changing money, see if they will exchange the stuff you have (might do free for you) and tell them you are going to Vietnam...they will know why etc...
Changing notes to U.S currency is good. No need to change back.....but paying in Dong is sometimes better. Just watch your exchange rate. 100 000 dong is something like $8-10 Aus or $5-7 US.....just be aware of the rounding in dollars....they love to round up! The other thing is that if paying with dollars, they will give you change in Dong...so you will have dong anyway.
If you know the excahnge rate, you wont have a problem. Ideally I would go with minimal amount of dong (200 000 day) and carry rest in US dollars, but if all you are taking is US dollars shop for exchange rates and get an idea of what they are charging. For example I got a taxi for 100 000dong from airport to HCMC (Saigon) ...they wanted $15 US....so mostly you can get better deal in dong.
Having said all of this, they are nice people and generally will not rip you...unless you're being stupid. And if you do get ripped (all of us do) it's probably only $2-3 dollars...100 000 dong is nothing.
Hotels change money (usually for hotel guests only), but banks are good for it during the day. ATM's only have a small limit (2 mil per day I think?)
When we went to Vietnam we took £500 in dollars each, that lasted the whole 3 weeks for hotels, entrances fees, food etc. I kept my money in my bag with me the whole time - on the junk boat and even kayaking, we had no problems.
I found that there is no price on anything so was often getting ripped off a little until we knew the cost. E.g 2 cans of coke I was charged $2 this seemed fine to me but I was stopped afterwards and told that was very expensive that I should have had 4 cans for that price! they see that you are a westerner (as they call us) and try to get a little extra.....dont blame them really.
When we went to Nha Trang we took a motorbike taxi on a tour, we were taken to the rice paddies and came across a little house where the people were making rush mats, they let us go in and watch them. they showed me some little place mats, i decided to buy them (didn't really want them but it helps them out) i gave $5, the whole family came out of this little house about 14 of them they were so happy and jumping up and down as if they had won the lottery!! ahh
I found the clothes in Hoi An not very good, they know you are not there long and have no time to be fussy, we had been measured then told to come back next day, when they were fitted we had a few alterations but were leaving to get our coach so were not happy, in fact I never wore any of the clothes, I only wanted a chinese top and came out with a jacket, trousers etc etc, they persuade you to have more and you pay when you order so no refund if you dont like them, I also think we did not bargain enough with the clothes, we also went to a tailors that had lots of customers as I thought they were good as they were busy...probably another mistake and why our clothes were rushed and not good quality.
I also gave a lot away to beggars...........i felt so sorry for them with limbs missing etc from the war, but I think I often gave too much as they seemed to go home for the day afterwards!
We found Vietnam a friendly, lovely place and came across no problems.
I am sure the VN people are eager for you to return! Any visitor that overpays every time is a treasure. I usually overpay a bit as well. It means nothing to me but really can make a difference to that person. I do try to support the small guy when possible. I talk about this in my blog entry: 'Touring DaLat'. Jenny, get back to VN soon and start stimulating their economy!