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Top Travel Destinations for 2017 and your Travel Money

Mon, 03/13/2017 - 10:54

Top Travel Destinations for 2017 and Travel Money

Every year, Flight Centre New Zealand compiles a list of red hot travel spots that they believe are sure to deliver amazing travel experiences to all that visit them. 2017 was no different, with some oldies-but-goodies making their list, as well as a few more out-there destinations.

Whether you have already booked a holiday to one of these amazing destinations, or if you’re still looking for some inspiration, we wanted to complement Flight Centre’s list of Where To Go in 2017 with information on each country’s currency, a rough idea of what things might cost you, and other travel money tips that can help you on your holiday.

#1: California, USA:

Well, more specifically, the Pacific Coast Highway. There is something truly special about a roadtrip from San Francisco to L.A, or anywhere in between, and if it isn't already, it should definitely be on your travel "to-do" list!

Of course, anywhere you travel in the USA, the US dollar is the currency used (code: USD, symbol: $), and it is broken up into cents. 

Prices for the USA vary widely, because all of the States are so different. But, the costs used in the accommodation and dining comparison guide below are based on prices for California, so if you are going anywhere else in this vast country, your costs may differ to what we have.

Click here to view our Cost Comparison Table in a separate window. Rotate your screen to landscape if on a mobile!

Debit and credit cards are widely accepted throughout the USA, but it is a good idea to keep cash on you for smaller purchases and tips. The USA has a big culture of tipping, and in a restaurant, 15 to 20% of the bill is expected, while for drinks you should tip $1 to $2 per drink. For hotel staff, work to roughly $1 or $2 for porters, $5 for cleaning staff, 10 to 15% of the room service bill and $5 for a valet. And, if you're getting a taxi, the recommended tip is around 10 to 15% of the fare.

Travel Money Tip:

Make sure you apply for your ESTA visa before you leave New Zealand (if applicable) – it will only cost you US$14. It’s super easy to do online, and you don’t need a visa agent to help you. The extra fee is a waste of money for sure!


#2. Ha Giang, Vietnam

This northern province of Vietnam should be one of the region's most popular tourist destinations, with spectacular landscapes, amazing roadside pho and colourful markets. But its proximity to the Chinese border means visitor numbers are still slow, and the area is still relatively untouched by tourists.

If you are lucky enough to be travelling here, you will need the local currency - the Vietnamese Dong (code: VND, symbol: ₫ ). The Dong is tied to the US dollar, and you may find that in Vietnam, prices are often quoted in USD in tourist areas. But, you will get a better rate if you pay in the local currency.

In Ha Giang, cash is definitely king, and you may struggle to use your debit or credit card to pay for things. So we definitely recommend taking some VND with you so that you have cash on you when you arrive. If you need more money while you are there, be careful where you exchange your money - the black market is easily accessible, but it is also illegal, so you need to make sure you exchange your cash at a licensed institution like a bank or money changer. 

Travel Money Tip:

The Vietnamese Consulate has a list of illegitimate websites that offer to organise your visa for a fee, or offer 'visa on arrival' approval letters, so check out this list when you're organising your visa so you don't get caught out by scammers. 


And, whether you are changing money in New Zealand or in Vietnam, make sure any VND banknotes you receive are in pristine condition - many places will not accept banknotes that are torn or damaged.

#3. Yunnan, China

Dense jungle, the beautiful Mekong River, laidback villages, stunning mountain treks, snow-capped mountains, rice terraces and gorgeous cycling routes. It's no wonder that Yunnan is one of China's trendiest destinations at the moment.

The currency used in China is the Yuan Renminbi (code: CNY or RMB, symbol: ¥). Renminbi means "people's currency" and is the official name of the currency, while Yuan is the name used for the basic unit. The banknote denominations are 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 Yuan, and 5 and 1 Jiao; while the coins range from  1 Jiao to 1 Yuan.

Travel Money Tip:

Notes that are old and tattered are difficult to spend, but if you are having problems with a note not being accepted, you can exchange it for a new one at the Bank of China.


#4. Colombia:

This hidden gem in Latin America’s crown is bursting with undiscovered land, isolated beaches and striking colonial architecture. It’s a must-do for those seeking adventure and the outdoors!

In Colombia, the currency used is the Colombian Peso (code: COP, symbol: $). The banknotes most commonly used are $1000, $2000, $5000, $10000, $20000 and $50000, while the most common coins are 20, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos.

In Colombia, credit and debit cards are not used in a lot of places, and ATMs can be expensive. Plus, if you are exchanging money in Colombia, you may find a cap on how much you can exchange at any one time. So, we definitely recommend taking some COP with you. Some businesses may accept USD for payment, but this will likely be at a very high rate of exchange.

Travel Money Tip:

If you are paying by credit card, you will likely need to show photo ID to complete the transaction.


In comparison to New Zealand prices, accommodation and dining are fairly cheap in Colombia, so this may be a destination where you can splash out, even if you are travelling on a budget. With regards to tipping, if you are dining out, you may find a 10% tip automatically added to your bill – this tip is “voluntary” – you don’t have to pay it, but you will find that most people do!

#5. Namibia

Boasting wide open landscapes, the brilliant African sun, huge desert dunes, sand swept coastlines, wildlife watching and a history of colonial settlement mixed with traditional cultures, Namibia is a place of beauty.

The currency of Namibia is the Namibian Dollar (code: NAD, symbol: N$), and it is linked to the South African Rand (code: ZAR, symbol: R) on a 1:1 basis. The NAD is seldom available in banks outside of Namibia, so unfortunately you cannot purchase it from Travel Money NZ stores.

However, the ZAR is accepted as currency in Namibia (but NAD is not accepted in South Africa), so before you go, we can help you get Rands organised for your trip. Just remember, before you leave Namibia you should change any leftover NAD back into Rands because you won't be able to exchange your leftover currency outside of the country either.

Travel Money Tip:

ATMs are readily found in Namibia, and credit and debit cards can be used at most places throughout the country. BUT, you cannot use a credit card for payment at petrol stations, so you may want to have a cash fund for petrol.


#6. Osaka, Japan

Kon'nichiwa! Offering a captivating mix of culture, street food and friendly locals, the allure of Osaka is unmistakeable, as is the reason why it made it to this list!

The Japanese currency is the Yen (code: JPY; symbol: ¥). It is pronounced as “en” in Japanese, and the common banknotes include ¥1000; ¥2000; ¥5000 and ¥10000; while the most common coins in circulation are the ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100 and ¥500. 

Interesting Fact:

The ¥5 and ¥50 yen coins actually have a hole in the middle of them to make them harder to counterfeit!


In Japan, you will find ATM’s everywhere, but, something A LOT of travellers don’t realise, many of them do not accept debit or credit cards issued outside of Japan! If you need to draw money using your New Zealand bank card, you will need to find an ATM located in the post office or a convenience store. Because of the limited access to ATMs, we think it is a good idea to take some Yen with you before you go so that you aren’t stuck without cash.

Accommodation costs in Osaka vary from around NZ$20 per night for a budget twin-share room, up to NZ$85 or more for a luxury hotel. Dining costs can also vary a lot, with options from low-cost meals to fine dining experiences available, depending on your travel budget. 

Click here to view our Cost Comparison Table in a separate window. Rotate your screen to landscape if on a mobile!

Travel Money Tip:

The best way to travel around Japan is by train, and you can save some money by purchasing a Japan Rail Pass for 1, 2 or 3 weeks of travel. But, these MUST be bought in New Zealand before you leave!


#7. Madagascar

This huge island nation is a slightly unreal combination of rice paddies, quaint architecture, lemurs and giant baobab trees. It is beautiful, diverse and unspoiled, and definitely deserving of its spot on this must-see travel list.

The currency used in Madagascar is the Malagasy Ariary (code: MGA, symbol: Ar), which replaced the Malagasy Francs in 2005. But, the MGA is a non-convertible currency, so you'll be hard pressed to find it outside of the country. But, if you take Euro's, US dollars or British pounds with you, you will easily be able to exchange them for MGA.

You will find money changing facilities at the major banks in Antananarivo or at the airport, and we recommend sticking to these official money changers and steering clear of the illegal black market. Cash is preferable while you're in Madagascar, as very few places accept credit cards.


If you take USD with you to Madagascar, make sure the bills are dated 2006 or later, as the earlier bills can be hard to change and may not be accepted at all.


#8. Oman

The sleepy, whitewashed capital of Oman, Muscat, has been built around a seafront esplanade. It is a heady mix of old Arabia and a modern, lively city face. The currency used is the Omani Rial (code: OMR, symbol: OMR$), which is subdivided into 100 baisa. It is pegged to the US dollar.

Oman is not the cheapest travel destination on the list, with your major expenses coming from accommodation and transport. But, as you can see in our cost guide, food is reasonably priced. ATMs are widely available, and all major credit cards are accepted. Because Oman has a lack of reliable public transport, to see the country properly you will need to hire a car (and maybe a guide-driver), or go on a tour, so that is an expense to consider in your budget.

Travel Money Tip:

New Zealand citizens need a visa to visit Oman, but it's pretty easy to sort one out. If you just need a single-entry visa, you can get one at the Muscat airport for 20OMR, valid for 1 month. If you need a multiple-entry visa, you can apply for one online.


#9. Myanmar (or Burma)

Oozing charm and simplicity, at the heart of Myanmar is a rural nation of traditional values, despite all of the recent democratic changes that have made this an easier-to-get-to travel destination. In many ways Myanmar is still very far behind the rest of the destinations on this list when it comes to travel convenience, but this also makes up part of its charm and laidback lifestyle.

The official currency of the area is the Myanma Kyat (code: MMK, symbol: K), pronounced as "chat". But, the import and export of the local currency is prohibited so you won't be able to exchange NZD to MMK before you go - instead we recommend taking US dollars with you. You can use USD to pay for larger purchases, such as accommodation and transport costs, but you will need to exchange small amounts into Kyat for those smaller purchases like taxi rides and food.

You will find that you mostly need cash, and that the use of ATMs is often restricted by internet failures, so you should take plenty of USD with you in case you can't withdraw money. Your USD need to be dated 2006 or later, as earlier bills (and any not in pristine condition) may not be accepted to be exchanged into Kyat.

Travel Money Tip:

Tipping is not customary in Myanmar, but sometimes a little "present" is expected in exchange for a service. For example, if a caretaker is needed to unlock a locked temple, a small donation would be appreciated.


Have you been to any of these destinations yet? I’ve ticked off a few places on this travel list, but it has definitely inspired me to start thinking about my next holiday! So many options, so little leave!

We hope it has inspired you too! And whether you are going to one of the above countries, or somewhere entirely different, we can definitely help you explore your travel money options – from cash to travel money cards - and help you get your foreign currency sorted before you leave. Just find your nearest store and speak to one of our FXperts today!


This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs.  You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.  While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you.  We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.

“Top Travel Destinations for 2017” was created by Flight Centre New Zealand. The original blog article can be referenced here: