Close

Moving from USA to Vietnam

Hello all,

I have about $5,000 saved up (will be more before I leave) for my move to Vietnam.  Initially, I had planned to withdraw the maximum amount of $5k and head into Vietnam with no problems.  Then I read a thread on this forum about a guy getting harassed by police in the airport.  Now I'm wondering if I should take any more than a few hundred dollars.

Is there a recommended amount of cash I should take on the flight from the US to VN?
Should I convert all of it to VND immediately or just as the need arises?

Another possible option is for me to open an account with an American bank that has a branch in Vietnam so I can avoid the exorbitant international ATM fees.  Is there a list of recommended banks to use for this method?

My first thought was Citibank because they have Citibank Vietnam but I noticed somebody in another thread mentioned that they aren't exactly the same company.  Can anybody confirm this?

The last option I can think of is to use a credit card for most things and pay it off monthly with the funds remaining in my American bank account until I have exhausted it, then continue living off the funds I have been making in Vietnam.  Is this a good method?

Please add any advice, input, suggestions, or comments you think may help.

Thank you!

I opened an account with SACOM Bank when I arrived in Saigon and have money transferred there.........you're moving to Vietnam with only $5,000???  That won't last long, I have been living on and off in Vietnam since 2000 and prices have gone up 10 fold.

I arrived here in January 2016 with just over $5,000 in my pocket and never had any problems - nobody ever stopped or questioned me.

As long as you don't intend to live with all the luxeries of home, $5000 should be enough to last you until you've established a steady income here...but do be aware of sharks who will overcharge foreiners. My lovely Vietnamese wife helps me with this but when she isn't with me I only go where prices are clearly posted. 

As for American banks, there are none here that I am aware of. It cost a little (in fee's) but I use Paypal myself.

If you try living on a credit card here, you will likely starve to death. Very few places accept credit/debit cards from overseas here - all transactions are done in cash (VietNam Dong or VND).

I hope this helps. Welcome to VietNam!

dbrutter, thanks for the reply.

Did you keep all $5,000 in one carry-on bag?  I have read some people give the advice of carrying $200 or so and then putting the bulk of the money in a padlocked bag because if the officers hear you only have $200, they are less likely to harass you/charge you "phantom fees".

I'm very aware of the scams that await me as a foreigner entering a new country.  I also intend to do most of my shopping with one of a few Vietnamese friends I am fortunate to already have.

As for the credit card comment, one of my native Vietnamese friends insists that Visa/Mastercard are widely accepted in Vietnam.

Thanks again for the reply!

you got a couple of options:
1. open a charles schwab account and you can withdraw money free of charge. They'll reimburse you at end of each month.
2. open a Western Union and send yourself money whenever. I think there's a small fee for the transfer. You can go to any local Western Union in the city with your passport and sign a piece of paper and off you go. You may choose to withdraw in USD or dong.
3. No such thing as custom/immigration taking money from you at the airport. $5000 isn't a lot to most Vietnamese today. You should be more worried about losing it on your own vs. some guy taking it from you. Personally I don't feel safe carrying around that kind of cash. Bring $1000 at most and keep the rest in bank. You may withdraw a small amount of dong at ATM in airport for your taxi ride. $500,000 should be plenty.

Hello Vegetivita,
Welcome on board :)

I've never heard anyone got harassed by VN customs for bringing $5k cash into Vietnam. That should be OK. customs regulations
If you carry more than that amount in cash, you MUST declare it at the airport.

People may get harassed while taking the money out of this country.

I'd suggest not to put any cash in your check-in luggage (padlocked or not). There were incidents of valuables and cash stolen from check-in luggage at the airports ... most such incidents took place at Noi Bai (Hanoi), some in HCMC as well.
Whatever cash you carry, carry it with you in your carry-on luggage.

Again, if you want to make all your local purchases ONLY from big super markets and high-end shops or prefer to dine out ONLY in big restaurants, credit card payment should be fine.
Be careful, sometimes their systems may fail (network failure).
Also, there were a few incidents of password theft etc.

Cash is king in Vietnam and if you want to enjoy local life, local food and drinks etc. and buy things from all those mom-and-pop shops everywhere, you should stay prepared to pay in VND cash.

One other thing, if you choose to open a local bank account to deposit whatever cash you bring with you (e.g. $5k), the bank/s here may ask you for proof that you've brought the money with you ... . and hence, a customs-declaration paper may be required.

AFAIK, you can open a bank acct with a tourist visa to deposit the cash you've brought to VN provided you can prove that you've brought the money with you from your country ... and haven't earned it illegally in Vietnam.

Else, come to Vietnam with reasonable cash (min $1500 - $2000), open a local bank acct with small deposit (around $25 - $50)  and transfer rest of your money from your US acct to that local VN acct as/when required.

IMHO that's the best option for you and that's what most people do.

Welcome to Vietnam!

senwl, thanks for the very informative post!

I'll pop back in here if I think of more questions.

Have been in and out of Ton Son Nhut forty times at least since 2000, have never been asked how much money do I have, if they ask for your address you should have it available immediately - always provide an address, or Hotel where you will be staying.

I say again, you will have no problems opening a Vietnamese bank account, as long as you have a valid Visa, phone number, and an address.  I have had one for 15 years with Saccom Bank, with a Visa debit card - never had any probs.  I have transferred over a  hundred thousand dollars to this account over the years.   I think most of the folks here that have money scam probs hang out in the wrong neighborhoods. 

I also used to deal in jewelry, have used my US Credit card to the tune of over thirty thousand US dollars in past fifteen years or so, never been over charged, nor scammed.  You just have to be ultra-careful where you use it.  I only use ATM's INSIDE a bank, or just outside the doors where they have armed security - those ATM  machines you see on every corner wth a 'fly by night' bank name on it - wouldn't let my card get close to one of them.

Not bragging but I have dealt with Viet banks almost twenty years, just trying to put your mind at rest as you seem overly anxious about being scammed - don't you ever stop & think why these people you read about are getting scammed??  Look where they do business or live..............relax and enjoy the ride, or stay home.

First off lets look at the exchange rate.... $5000usd = 113,569,234.00vnd, which is approximately $1.00 for every $22,300vnd. If you spent 1,000,000vnd per day ( which would be ridiculous ) you have enough for 113 days. Now... If you have not gotten your VISA yet, get a place to get VISA on arrival ( there online ). It makes going through immigration very easy to do. If interested I could recommend one for you. I have been here for 5 years and renew every year. Stay away from the tourist traps. There are many. Also remember this, its very important, everything can be negotiated. The trip from the airport to District 1 should cost about 170,000vnd. I usually give the driver 200,000 when I get in the cab. He gets me there quick and easy to save money for him, not the company. Have the address of where you want to go ready to give him. Also don't let any of these people 'BULLY' you into something you don't need or want. If your planning on living in HCMC ( Saigon ), then be prepared to pay for it. I live in the countryside of Hoi An, near Da Nang ( also a good size city ). I pay $350usd a month for a beautiful 2br/3ba house, fully furnished. Transportation without a motorbike can be costly as well. Advice: I would not try to drive one in HCMC. ( you will understand when you get there ).Don't buy from street vendors unless its food. If you smoke, price is 15,000vnd up to 20,000vnd, depending on what you smoke. The parks are beautiful, but fare warning, they can be a problem as well ( night time mostly ). Always be aware of people and things around you ( just be careful not paranoid ). I don't know what you look for in work so I can't help you out there. Oh by the way, my name is Ron and if you wish to contact me at hawk113048[at]gmail, to answer any of your questions for you, feel free to do so. If I don't have an answer then I will get one for you. When are you planning this move? And finally " WELCOME TO VIETNAM". Good luck to you...... be safe and take care of you..............................................................

Oh one more thing....
I bank with Citibank in the USA and there fees are not that bad. There are also HSBC banks here a lot. I use my debit card for everything. I would only carry about $500usd on me and atm VND when you get here for taxi and stuff like that. Remember it will take time to get used to it all. I think of $1.00 means approx. 22,500vnd.

They got this e-visa going on now. Look into it at your pleasure.
https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn/en_US … uc-dien-tu

Hey all, I wanted to talk about the exchange process from USD to VND.

Exactly when do I want to change currencies?  Do I want to keep USD as long as possible or is it okay to just change it all to VND?

And where is the best place to change?  I have heard I should not do it at the airport, which would have been my first guess.  I have also heard that Vietnamese pawn shops are a great place for it, which would have been my last guess.  Just hearing the phrase "Pawn Shop" in America makes me think of untrustworthy people.  Perhaps Vietnamese pawn shops have better reputations?

Also, when transferring money from a US account to a VN account, has anyone ever encountered difficulties proving your identity to the US bank?  If they see a Vietnam IP address trying to access an American's bank account, won't it just get flagged as a potentially hacked account?

Hello,

   I kept some cash in my pocket but, yes, most of it was all in one carry on bag.

   About the credit cards, I am just telling you from my experience. I've been here almost two years now and, yes, there are some places that will take the card but if you want to run next door or down the street for lunch you are going to be better off with cash in your pocket, at least that is my experience - take it for what it is worth.

Vegetivita :

Hey all, I wanted to talk about the exchange process from USD to VND.

Exactly when do I want to change currencies?  Do I want to keep USD as long as possible or is it okay to just change it all to VND?

https://pixen.netlify.com/pix/xe_600.jpg

Vietnam govt keeps VND loosely pegged to USD, but devalued somewhat vs USD. You would have been better off holding dollars for the last couple years. Future? Unknown. (To read the chart, see that 1 dollar gives you more VND now).

And where is the best place to change?  I have heard I should not do it at the airport, which would have been my first guess.  I have also heard that Vietnamese pawn shops are a great place for it, which would have been my last guess.  Just hearing the phrase "Pawn Shop" in America makes me think of untrustworthy people.  Perhaps Vietnamese pawn shops have better reputations?

I used a bank once, but most people recommend gold shops, not pawn shops, in the Ben Thanh market area.

Also, when transferring money from a US account to a VN account, has anyone ever encountered difficulties proving your identity to the US bank?  If they see a Vietnam IP address trying to access an American's bank account, won't it just get flagged as a potentially hacked account?

I just carry cash in from the US, and horde it. Only had to spend some a couple times. You can't deposit any kind of cash into a Vietnamese bank, many stories about that. Online, never had a problem accessing my bank websites. Withdraw by ATM. Better if you tell them you are traveling anyway, on long vacation, ditto your credit card bank.

New topic

Expatriate health insurance in Vietnam

Free advice and quotation service to choose an expat health insurance in Vietnam

Moving to Vietnam

Find tips from professionals about moving to Vietnam

Travel insurance in Vietnam

Enjoy stress-free travel to Vietnam