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Decent hotel rooms in Vietnam's cities and larger towns begin around $15 and at around the $25 price point the comfort level increases noticeably. Aside from the occasional boutique hotel or spa, accommodation in the countryside is generally cheaper.

ATMs, many from international banks, are easy to find in most medium- to large-sized urban centers. U.S. dollars are the preferred currency of exchange, but other major currencies are easy to exchange at banks, exchange counters, and hotels.

Small businesses in more rural places often can't change 500,000-đdong notes. This can be problematic because many ATMs only give out 500,000-đdong notes. Make sure you have plenty of small change on hand to avoid potentially awkward situations.

Currency and Exchange

Vietnam's currency is the dong, the major unit of which is 1,000 VND, which won't buy you much (an iced tea on the street, for instance, costs 2,000 4,000 VND). Dollars are accepted in touristy shops and high-end restaurants or hotels, but you'll usually get better rates in đdong. Due to Vietnam's humid climate, notes from 10,000 VND on up to 500,000 VND are plastic.

Taxes

A new VAT refund programme for tourists from now through June 2014 allows travelers flying out of Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to be refunded for the VAT value incurred on invoiced purchases of 2,000,000 VND or more made within the previous 30 days. A service charge of less than 15% of the VAT refund is charged, and certain goods—especially those whose export is prohibited—are ineligible for the refund. Goods and invoices are inspected in the airport check-in areas. Refund counters in the departure area provide travelers who have cleared immigration their refunds in dollars or other currencies. Allow additional airport time for this process.

Tipping

Tipping is a fairly new concept in Vietnam and is appreciated but not typically expected. Many higher-end restaurants and hotels in Vietnam include 5% service fees in the bill, but if you feel you've received good service, a tip is always welcome. If the change you are due for a coffee, meal, or taxi ride is negligible, it's customary to let the waiter or driver keep it.