Because the Vietnamese dong is weak and prices come as large numbers, sometimes locals simplify prices to the 1,000s of dong. For instance, someone telling you that the price is “5” can mean either 5,000 dong or US $5 -- big difference! Switching currencies on tourists is an old scam in Vietnam; always verify before you agree to a price. Currency in Vietnam – Info about Vietnamese Dong, ATMs & Money The first Vietnamese currency was given out as coins, but this changed in 1978. Then it was decided that it would be smarter and more practical to only pay with banknotes instead of thousands of coins, which also weighed a lot. The highest denominated bill in the world is the 500,000 dong bill.