Thursday 5 September 2019

The Complete Guide to Open a Bank Account in Vietnam for Interns

Opening a bank account in a foreign country sounds scary, especially if you are in a non English-speaking country like Vietnam. However, having a local bank account is essential, especially if you plan on transferring money from overseas. It is also extremely convenient as you can use local apps such as GrabPay instead of having to carry large amounts of cash around. Fortunately for you, opening a bank account in Vietnam is actually an extremely simple process. No more awkwardly fumbling around in your wallet for cash!

Which Bank Should I Go With?

When it comes to the choice of banks, you are definitely spoiled for choice! You can opt for international banks such as HSBC, ANZ, UOB, Citibank, or Maybank, just to name a few. Alternatively, you can also opt for local banks such as VietcomBank, ACB, Sacombank, Techcombank, and many others. On a related note, check out this blog post by ODM on interesting promotions that banks have offered customers. 

International Banks

International banks are generally safer to go with, especially if you intend to transfer money from overseas accounts. However, international banks have relatively strict requirements and a higher minimum deposit amount for foreigners. According to the staff at the HSBC branch we visited, most international banks in Vietnam only allow foreigners to open an account if they are staying in Vietnam for more than 1 year.. Make sure to take note of this, as this information is not stated online. Read through the minimum requirements online before you actually visit the branch.

Local Banks

The staff at the HSBC branch we visited encouraged us to open a bank account with a local bank instead, as we were only staying in Vietnam for 5 months. The most highly recommended bank was VietcomBank, which has the most extensive network of ATMs and branches. VietcomBank is a state-owned bank and rated as the strongest bank in Vietnam, so it is a safe option to go with. Local banks have much more lenient requirements for foreigners, including a lower minimum deposit and duration of stay in Vietnam. Interestingly, the marketing for local banks can be improved greatly to attract more customers, especially since there are so many banks to choose from. Many banks give away promotional products, such as these promotional headphones given away by Citibank HK. This is a great way to attract more customers.

What Do I Need to Open a Bank Account?

Regardless of whether you choose to go with an international or local bank, the criteria and documents required are similar:

  • Minimum Age: 18 and above
  • Account application form: This can be found on the bank's website. You can print and fill it out before going to the bank to save a significant amount of time. Alternatively, you can choose to fill this out at the bank itself. If this is your first time opening a bank account overseas, it is recommended that you fill out the application form at the bank itself. The bank staff would guide you through the details and simplify the entire process.
  • Original Passport: Most banks will require you to bring your original passport to open an account, as this is the most common form of identification for foreigners.
  • Copy of Passport: You most likely wouldn't need this, but it is generally safer to bring along.
  • Copy of valid visa entry: Bring a copy of both your visa stamp on your passport, as well as a copy of your visa acceptance letter.
  • Copy of labor contract: You are required to provide proof of employment for the duration that you are staying in Vietnam. This is most commonly your employment contract. If you are an intern, you can use your internship acceptance letter.
  • Proof of local address: This is the address that you are staying in Vietnam. If you have already secured a deposit at a house or apartment, you can bring along the receipt or contract. Alternatively, most banks will allow you to use the address of your Airbnb or hotel if you are staying mid-to-long term. Some banks, such as VietcomBank, allow you to use the address of your company.
  • Minimum Deposit Amount: Varies widely. Check the bank's website to find out. HSBC's minimum deposit is 3,000,000 VND. VietcomBank has a much lower minimum deposit amount of 50,000 VND.

What is the Process of Opening a Bank Account?

You will be glad to know that the process of opening a bank account in Vietnam is extremely simple, and takes less than an hour!

1) Prepare documents: Print out all the documents before you arrive in Vietnam to save time and hassle. If you are already in Vietnam, don't worry! You can print out and photocopy the documents any of the countless print shops around (Use Google Maps).

2) Go to a branch: With all of your documents and passport with you, head over to a branch. An appointment is not necessary. If you decide to go with Vietcombank, head to the central branch at Vietcombank Tower. This is the biggest branch in Ho Chi Minh, and most of the staff speak English fluently. It is recommended that you visit the branch in the morning, as it is much less crowded.

3) Set up your Account: Tell the front desk staff that you wish to open a bank account. Depending on the crowd, you might immediately be able to proceed to a counter. This is where you would submit your documents and sign forms. The staff will explain the fees, requirements, and other important information to you. You would also be required to make the minimum deposit here. We found the staff to be extremely pleasant and efficient, and the whole process was completed in about 30 minutes.

4) Collect your debit card: Your debit card would take about 10 days to prepare. You would be given an appointment slip which you can present at the branch at the stated date to collect your debit card. You need your debit card to make withdrawals from ATMs. If you need to withdraw cash urgently, don't worry! You can visit any branch and present your passport to make withdrawals.

5) Congratulations! You have opened your very own Vietnamese bank account!


The fees charged by banks varies across different banks. This is the chart of fees that the staff at VietcomBank gave to us. You can waive some of the fees, such as the debit card issuance fee, simply by asking the staff.

Other Important Things to Take Note of:

  • Most banks only operate from 8am to 5pm in the weekdays. Banks are closed during weekends and holidays. For that reason, it is recommended that you arrive in Vietnam a few days before your work/school/internship starts to set up your bank account.
  • Bring enough cash before arriving in Vietnam if you intend to secure a deposit at an apartment before opening an account.
  • If you intend on transferring money to and/or from overseas accounts, ensure that your bank provides you with a Swift Code.
  • Bank transfers from overseas would take about half to a full day to reach your account. It might only be deposited in your account the next day.
  • Remember to sign up for Internet Banking and Mobile Banking.
  • For your own security, when at any print shop, remember to ensure that you have logged off your account before you leave.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

ODM Interns Enjoying Weekend In Vietnam

When my intern mate and I arrived in Saigon, our internship support company organized a food tour for us to get familiar with our surroundings and the local food. While working here in Vietnam under ODM, we had plenty of time to explore by ourselves and try the local delicacies. Today we wanted to share these experiences with you, as well as our one day trip to the Mekong Delta. This is our way to get away from the hustle and bustle of this gigantic city while getting a glimpse of life in the countryside!

Food Tour - HCMC

We met Binh, a local guide and his team of motorbike drivers at the Opera House for the food tour. The Opera house is a magnificent french architecture inspired building. From then on, we discovered the city on the back of motorbikes while stopping to taste typical street food along the way!

The first street food we tried was banh xeo, a fried pancake made with water, rice flour and turmeric powder. It is close enough to a “crêpe” and you can stuff it any way you see fit, usually with shrimp, pork meat, mung bean… it will be rolled in large leaves, with mint and basil added. It is very delicious, and every ingredient works perfectly with one another. What’s best is It can also be served without meat if you are vegetarian!

After a short bike ride, we arrived at the second stop to try some banh mi! Banh mi is in part a french heritage, as the main ingredient is a french baguette. However, it is airier than the traditional French baguette though. It is a sandwich stuffed with pork belly, greens, daikon, carrots, vietnamese sausage. For those who don’t like meat, there is another amazing version with eggs called “banh mi op là”. For me, the pork belly texture was something difficult to take, so I tried the op là version and no regrets, it is fantastic!

At the third stop, we ate seafood. There is a wide range of sea products in Vietnam, such as fish, shells, shrimps, more obscure creatures like limules. At this stall,  we tried shrimps, shells, clams, and snails. Everything was fantastic and I really urge you to try these local delicacies!

Lastly, we ate “goi cuon”, which you probably know this as spring rolls! A nice opportunity to try sauces, nuoc mam, for example. What struck us is how healthy the food was - there are always greens, not too much salt and fat. It felt extremely light while nourishing.

I need to also mention the bike rides. You get a pure feeling of freedom while on these! It can be scary initially because of the chaotic traffic, but every driver I have met thus far knew their way around the roads. You just have to make sure that you have an anti pollution mask as sometimes it can be hard to breathe in crowded areas due to all the exhaust pipes… Other than that, it truly is a really fun and exciting experience!

Vinh Trang Temple

During the week-end we booked a one day visit in the Mekong Delta. We left HCMC by bus at 8 in the morning, the Mekong Delta is 1.30 hour away from the city. A good opportunity to see life in the countryside and get away from the agitation! We also saw something you don’t quite see in town, which is burial sites. People get buried usually in the countryside, near their family farm. People from town go back here when they can in order to visit their relatives and loved ones.

Before arriving in the Delta itself, we stopped to visit Vinh Trang Temple. There were incredible gigantic statues of Buddha. We are also able to go inside one of the buildings and get a glimpse of the monk’s lives here. This a place worth seeing - really relaxing and beautiful. If you go there, make sure you wear long pants and that your shoulders are covered, it is considered disrespectful to be dressed otherwise!

Mekong Delta

Lastly, we visited the Delta! The place was still a little crowded because it is the weekend. We tasted a lot of delicacies produced in the region, starting with honey and honey tea. They are really good, and a friendly warning - you will encounter a lot of bees when you stop there!

We were listening to traditional music while tasting the locally harvested fruits. This was when I tried durians and dragon fruits for the first time. The smell of durian is indescribable, and the taste is very unique. Make sure you have a taste of it when you are here! The dragon fruits we had were also fantastic…

There are 5 islands in the delta, and you travel from one to another with boats. We discovered a lot of animals and plants that we did not expect before, and I held a serpent (it’s cold!). Did you know they craft spirits with serpents? Towards the end, we visited a coconut milk candy factory. The entire production process was explained to us. They just use malt, coconut milk and a bit of tapioca powder to produce these delicious candies. It tastes amazing so we decided to buy some.

After all these experiences, it was time to head back to hectic Saigon. What I will remember the most are the colours, the sounds, and the way people lived such simple lives. Makes you realize what you have and what matters. A truly enriching trip, even if it was for just a day.

For our french readers / Pour nos lecteurs français:

Quelques semaines auparavant, Romain et moi sommes arrivés au Vietnam à Ho Chi Minh City pour un stage chez ODM Group. Nous souhaitons ainsi partager quelques unes de nos expériences que nous avons adorés.
L’une des premières soirées nous nous sommes baladés dans la ville accompagnés par un guide local prénommé Binh. Il nous a fait découvrir la nourriture locale et la ville en scooter, moyen de transport emblématique du Vietnam. Cette soirée nous a permis de goûter à des fruits de mer, des banh mi (un héritage bien français !)… Les spécialités locales sont vraiment des plats à tenter, et permettent de découvrir ce que mangent les vietnamiens dans la vie de tous les jours en s’imprégnant de leur culture. Afin de tester différents lieux où manger, nous nous baladions par scooter, ce qui permettait d’admirer la vue et d’échanger quelques mots avec nos conducteurs.
Nous souhaitions aussi relater la journée où nous sommes parti en direction du delta du Mékong et avons découvert le temple de Vinh Trang.
Les escapades sur bateau à moteur et barques typiques vietnamiennes avec rameurs sont réellement des moments à vivre. Cette balade sur le Mékong nous a aussi conduit à goûter du miel vietnamien avec du thé, ainsi que des fruits locaux, tout était délicieux.
En ce qui concerne le temple bouddhiste Vinh Trang, très populaire dans la région, c’était un endroit somptueux et où beaucoup de locaux venaient prier, malgré un afflux touristique certain. Si vous compter échapper quelques temps au tumulte de la ville, ce lieux est à visiter coûte que coûte ! L’endroit compte une des plus grandes représentations du “Bouddha Rieur”. La pagode en elle-même est très silencieuse et appelle à la méditation, de quoi peut-être faire naître des vocations !
Nous vous recommandons grandement d’aller visiter ces lieux si vous passez dans le sud du Vietnam !

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