A big question that always comes up when people are about go on a Laos Holiday is about money in Laos – i.e. currencies, ATM’s, travelers checks and credit card usage so I thought I would write a blog that would hopefully answer any questions about this.
The national currency in Laos is the Kip but the Thai Bhat and American dollar are also widely accepted. You can exchange Thai Baht and US Dollars almost everywhere including at markets and some smaller stores in the provinces. You can also use the US Dollar and Thai Baht for bigger purchases. Other international currencies can be exchanged at money changers or banks in the larger towns.
If you are heading out in to the more remote areas it is recommended that you carry plenty of Kip to cover your trip and make sure you have lots of smaller notes as they may often not have enough change.
Credit cards are accepted at most high end restaurants and hotels and shops in Vientiane and other tourist towns in Laos, however expect to pay at a least a 3% service charge and that does not include what your bank may charge you for the exchange rates.
Traveler’s checks have high commission charges – if you do decide to use travelers checks I would recommend having them in US Dollars or Thai Baht to avoid extra exchange rate charges.
There are more and more ATM’s popping up in Laos now and you won’t have any problems finding them in the main tourist cities, however they may be harder to find in the provincial areas.
Be aware that most ATM’s have a limit withdrawal and that you will most probably be charged withdrawal fees by your bank at home. It is always a good idea to check what these fees are before you leave home. It is also a good idea to notify your bank that you will be using your credit card or ATM card in a foreign country so that they do not block your usage when they notice the unusual transactions.
If you run into financial difficulties or are out of cash you can also have money wired to you through Western Union and it will usually be available to you on the same day. Western Union has over 100 branches available in Laos and may be located in local banks or the post office – just keep an eye out for the yellow and black western union logo.
I hope this blog helps with your queries regarding you and your money in Laos.