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Ancient Vietnamese currency

At the time of King DINH BO LINH

The oldest Vietnamese currency dates back to the reign of King Dinh Bo Linh in 968. This emperor is known to have built the foundations of the centralized Vietnamese monarchy. If his reign was relatively short, he was the instigator of a long period of independence and autonomy for Vietnam following more than a thousand years of Chinese protectorate.

Among the strong gestures of this sovereign who installed his capital in Ninh Binh, about 100 km south of Hanoi, the issue of a currency specific to the nation “Dai Viet” was very remarkable and appreciated by Vietnamese historians.

Ancient Vietnamese coinage in 968 of the Dinh Dysnasty
Ancient Vietnamese coinage in 968 of the Dinh Dynasty

This first Vietnamese coin bore the name “Thai Binh Hung Bao”-“Restored Peace” in Chinese character which is also the reign name of the Dinh dynasty. Cast in bronze, there was the round shape with a square hole in the center, the round and square shape symbolizing respectively the sky and the earth according to an oriental conception.

If the coins issued later by other Vietnamese dynasties were renewed in terms of characters or motifs, these two basic forms were maintained. At that time, this Vietnamese currency was used in parallel with the Chinese currency. There were then three types of this coin: without the “Dinh” character; with the “Dinh” character on the square hole; with the “Dinh” character under the square hole.

The previous dynasty

With the dynasty of the “Earlier Le” (there will be later, in the 15th century the “Earlier Le”) which always sat in Hoa Lu – Ninh Binh, the Vietnamese currency bears the name “Thien Phuc” – “Grace of Heaven”, its form remains very similar to that of the currency of the Dinh dynasty, except that the characters are on both sides:

The Ho Dynasty

The year 1396, with the rise to the throne of the Ho and the end of the reign of the Tran dynasty, witnessed the first appearance of Vietnamese paper money. The event could have been a revolution in the history of Vietnamese currency, as King Ho Quy Ly was very determined to issue this currency widely into circulation. Nevertheless, as this policy was accompanied by the prohibition of the use of metal money, which was the cause of its failure and the return to the use of metal money with the rise to power of the Le dynasty in 1429.

The Nguyen Dynasty

With the Nguyen dynasty coming to power in 1802 and setting up the Vietnamese capital in Hue in the Center, the Vietnamese currency was considerably renewed. First of all, in the composition of the coins. In addition to bronze coins, zinc coins also appeared. An exchange rate was also established between bronze and zinc coins, which changed throughout the ages. For example, during the reign of Gia Long and Thieu Tri, a bronze coin was 1.2 to 1.3 times higher than a zinc coin. Moreover, during the reign of the Nguyen emperors, silver or gold ingots were also widely used as currency. So, it can be said that the coinage of the Nguyen dynasty was more varied compared to the previous dynasties.

Currency Gia Long Thong Bao


Currency Khai Dinh Thong Bao

In addition to bronze and zinc coins for everyday use, there were coins of special value during the feudal period, often made of gold and silver. Often, kings made gifts with these coins.

Vietnamese currency tu duc

It should also be noted that under the Nguyen dynasty, the Indochinese currency appeared for the first time. Precisely, since 1883, when the country was officially placed under the French protectorate, the Bank of Indochina began to issue coins as well as banknotes whose use was more common, while the use of coins issued by the Vietnamese court was limited to the rural areas. The Indochinese currency became known as the “Piastre”. For example, a piastre coin is 27 grams heavy and looks like this one:

Dong Duong coin made in France

A 100 piastres bill looks like this:

100 bill piastres

To the Revolution of August 1945

The new regime of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was officially established on November 31, 1946, very quickly issued the new national currency.


A 100 dong bill with the picture of Nguyen Ai Quoc (Ho Chi Minh)

The denominations were indicated as well in Quoc Ngu, as in Chinese, in Arable, in Cambodian, in Laotian.

A 20 dong bill
A bank bill of 100 dong
a 5000 bill

Between 1954 and 1975.

As the country was divided into two territories with its two political regimes, two specific types of currency existed. But both currencies had in common the name dong.

In the South of the country, since 1953, there is the currency of the Republic of Vietnam regime. In 1953, 10, 20 and 50 xu coins were put into circulation. In 1960, 1 dong coin appeared, 10 dong coins in 1964, 5 dong coins in 1966, 20 dong coins in 1968. In 1975, the first 50 dong coins were melted down without being put into circulation because of the fall of the Saigon regime.

1-1000-dong-notea 1000 dong bill

a 500 dong bill
200 dong bill

Since April 30, 1975, there has been one unified Vietnam from North to South. The southern currency was converted into the national currency.

a 10 xu (cent) bill


a 2 dong bill
A 10 dong bill

The year 1978 saw a big money issue which was in fact a reconversion. We had this:

5 hao bill
a 20 dong bill

A third issue of the currency occurred in March 1986: were issued then the bills of 10, 20, 50 đồng.


The 50 dong bill

In 1990, the Vietnamese currency saw the first appearance of 10,000 and 20,000 dong cotton bills. In 1994, 50,000 dong bills were issued. The 100,000 dong cotton banknotes were released in 2000.

a 100000 bill
a 50 000 bill
a 10 000 bill

The appearance of polymer bills to replace cotton bills was the most recent development in contemporary Vietnamese currency:

today’s 100 000 dong bill

See also:

History of Vietnam

Dramatic and heroic, Vietnam’s history has touched the whole world. Known for its many wars…