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Vanuatu has its own currency known as the Vatu (vt). There are 5,000 1,000 500 and 200 vatu notes (plus a new 10,000vt note introduced on July 30th, 2010 to celebrate the 30th year of Independence). Coins come in 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 vt. There are many places where you can exchange your currency for vatu including money exchanges, banks and ATM machines. Only a few places will actually take AUD$ or USD$.
Keep in mind that if you use the ATM you will get VATU dispensed. You can normally withdraw up to 44000 vt per day (approx AUD$600) from an ATM but this depends on your limit on your bank back home. Make sure your ATM card is connected to one of the international networks like Visa or Cirrus. The amount you withdraw (in vatu) will be converted to your local currency when deducted from your account using the current exchange rate on the day.
There are also ATM's that dispense AUD, they are programmed espicially for the Australian user as they transact as if its a domestic transaction in Australia(saves lots of fees for using the ATM internationally), most of the resturants and shops accept AUD$. havent tested this ATM using a none Australian card but it also should be better than the bank's ATM.
There is a branch of the westpac bank and ANZ bank in Vila which are open from 9.00 to 3.30am. you will need a second form of id
The Westpac exchange rates (for cash) on 13 Aug 2010 were AUD$1.00 = 87.32 vt, USD$1.00 = 95.85 vt, EURO$1.00 = 119.01 vt,NZ$1=75va and UK$1.00 = 144.42 v. Credit card, ATM and travellers cheque rates will not be as good as the cash rate.
Credit cards are easier but not accepted at all shops. Most resorts and larger restaurants should accept credit cards (surcharges of up to 4% usually apply). If you are travelling to one of the outer islands, take cash, do not expect credit cards to be accepted unless you make prior arrangements. They may have a booking office in Port Vila that processes their credit card payments, it's best to check first (they may not even have a phone for c/card machines on the outer islands).
Buses,water taxis and taxis will expect vatu as payment for fares. The standard bus fare is now 150 vt for fares within Port Vila, Water taxis charge 500-100vt to ferry you seawall to your cruise ship. and taxi fares from 500-1,000vt. It is best to have the right change for buses and taxis.
In Luganville (Santo), there are ATMs at the National Bank and ANZ branches. There is now a money exchange facility near Hotel Santo. Outside Port Vila and Luganville, take cash and don't expect they will be able to change 5,000 vt and the new 10,000 vt notes so take smaller notes. There is also a Westpac ATM at Port Vila airport if you don't get a chance to change money beforehand- located out the front of the domestic terminal next door to the international.