Currency Exchange Rates and the Vietnamese Dong

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Currency Exchange Rates and the Vietnamese Dong
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Vietnam is taking steps to strengthen the Dong against other currencies
Planning a trip to Vietnam does take a considerable amount of thought. There is so much to see and do in this country of 86 million people. Vietnam has had its share of wars and hostile takeovers, but all of that is behind this economic dynamo now. Tourism and exports are injecting foreign dollars into the economy and the government is building some hefty cash reserves, although they have taken a beating in 2009 for the several different reasons. The unofficial rate of exchange was 19,800 per dollar in November and that prompted some government officials to start talking about devaluing the Dong, but the plan now is to try to boost exports, which may not be the easiest or best choice to make at this point in time.
All of the uncertainty about the Dong makes planning a trip to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City a challenge when it comes to exchanging currency. Waiting until you reach your destination to exchange currency to Dong can be expensive. The Official rate for a U.S. Dollar to Dong exchange has been fluctuating daily and no one is sure when it will stabilize. Foreign investors are not buying government bonds because there is still a strong chance that the Dong will be devalued.
What’s the best strategy to use to convert currency for a trip to Vietnam?
If you want to enjoy the rich culture, the beautiful beaches and the exciting cities in Vietnam without blowing an atomic size whole in your budget, do some research and find a professional currency broker. A professional broker studies the exchange market hourly and will help you plan an exchange strategy that works for your budget. A broker will show you how to average your exchanges while you’re planning the trip so you can offset sudden value changes that can have a negative impact on your budget. A currency broker will give you a real time rate and will not charge you excessive transaction fees and surcharges that are standard when you exchange money at a bank or when you use your credit card to make purchases.
If you wait to trade currencies in Hanoi or another Vietnamese city you will have to pay hefty transaction fees, plus there may be other unexpected charges that can be budget busting expenses. Stay away from airport exchange merchants, and forget about exchanging currency at your hotel or in a retail shop, they use an inflated exchange rate and add fees to cover their overhead. Bring one credit card for an emergency, but use your ATM card if you need to exchange money or make purchases. The transaction fees are lower and the exchange rate is usually better. ATM machines are available in the bigger cities, especially in areas where there is a lot of tourist traffic.
Other Travel Tips
The Vietnamese government allows you to carry $5,000 cash through customs, if you have more than that, you must declare it, or it will be confiscated. Always carry cash in a leg pouch, money belt or hidden pocket that’s secure and out of sight. Use hotel safes when you reach your destination and remember that common sense is your best security weapon when you use it.

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