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Money matters - ATMS in Laos

  • razzy

    Joined Travelfish
    15th December, 2006
    Posts: 9

    Hey all
    I'm after some advice about carrying money around Laos (and Cambodia), as I have read that there aren't many ATMs at all. Does everyone just carry a mix of US$, local currency and traveller's cheques?
    Any insights appreciated!
    Thanks
    Razzy

    #1 Posted: 26/12/2006 - 07:25

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  • TonyL

    Joined Travelfish
    19th December, 2006
    Posts: 46

    Yes - there are ATM's in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap but otherwise what you suggest is the best route to follow. Remember to get rid of kip before leaving Laos and riels before leaving Cambodia - they are not negotiable currencies outside of their own countries.

    #2 Posted: 26/12/2006 - 07:33

  • russellb

    Joined Travelfish
    8th August, 2006
    Posts: 12

    There is an ATM in Vientiane for international cards, but nowhere else in Laos, as far as I know. Carry US dollars as these are easy to change and readily acceptable in Cambodia at hotels. You'll need US dollars anyway for departure tax and unofficial 'stamp' costs at Cambodian customs, if you're travelling overland. Thai baht are also easy to use in Laos if you're going there from Thailand.

    #3 Posted: 26/12/2006 - 13:26

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
    12th February, 2006
    Location United States
    Posts: 2405
    Total reviews: 47
    Places visited:
    At least 98

    hey razzy,

    this question has come up a few times before, so you might want to check some of the older threads for good, detailed info.

    we used the ANZ atm's in siem reap on our last trip with no trouble. they dispense cash in US dollars, which is the currency people prefer for payment anyway. you'll do fine in cambodia depending on atm's with the usual amount of cash (US dollars if possible) and traveler's checks as back up.

    in laos, we had no trouble using the one international atm in vientiane, but a few others have complained that it did not work for them, so keep that in mind. we typically travel laos with a combination of cash (us dollars and thai baht) and travellers checks. in fact, the only time on our two-month trip that we used travellers checks was in laos, since the exchange rates for TCs were better than cash and didn't have a transaction fee (if you shopped around). but, it is also easy to get a cash advance on your atm or credit card from many businesses all over laos. we used our credit card to pay for a few meals and hotel rooms too, which helped stretch out our available cash. the charges cleared in us dollars with no transaction fees or exchange fees. i hope that helps. cheers.

    #4 Posted: 27/12/2006 - 03:06

  • miranda456

    Joined Travelfish
    8th November, 2006
    Posts: 11
    Total reviews: 14

    We just arrived in Laos yesterday from Vietnam, and the international ATM was out of money! And in addition to that the Mastercard system is not working so we cannot get a cash advance. We had a small amount of US dollars and this morning we went back to the ATM, just after they filled it up. Apparently the Mastercard is having problems in all South East Asia (it was not working in Vietnam on 27th or 28th before we left). So next time we will make sure one of has a Visa card!

    #5 Posted: 30/12/2006 - 12:02

  • xineharsell

    Joined Travelfish
    16th November, 2006
    Posts: 7

    Been here in Laos for the last few weeks and the advise I can offer is to always be prepared. Banks here have very unpredictable and limited hours. Cash advances on Visas or debit cards are not always available - we got caught out in Phonsavan but were able to borrow a few Kip off fellow travelers. More often you'll find the machines aren't working like we have in Vang Vieng and even here in Vientienne.

    There are ATMS in Vietienne, but they don't seem to work for every card (?) and only allow a maximum of 700,000 to 1,000,000 Kip so you'll get a heafty charge from your bank at home for drawing only $70 to $100 USD.

    I haven't been to Cambodia yet but for Laos I would suggest stocking up on Dollars or Baht. Also you'll probably want to exchange for more Kip than you think you'll need when heading to more remote or rural areas. You can always loan some out to another traveler who has run out of Kip...

    #6 Posted: 30/12/2006 - 18:48

  • xineharsell

    Joined Travelfish
    16th November, 2006
    Posts: 7

    Been here in Laos for the last few weeks and the advise I can offer is to always be prepared. Banks here have very unpredictable and limited hours. Cash advances on Visas or debit cards are not always available - we got caught out in Phonsavan but were able to borrow a few Kip off fellow travelers. More often you'll find the machines aren't working like we have in Vang Vieng and even here in Vientienne.

    There are ATMS in Vietienne, but they don't seem to work for every card (?) and only allow a maximum of 700,000 to 1,000,000 Kip so you'll get a heafty charge from your bank at home for drawing only $70 to $100 USD.

    I haven't been to Cambodia yet but for Laos I would suggest stocking up on Dollars or Baht. Also you'll probably want to exchange for more Kip than you think you'll need when heading to more remote or rural areas. You can always loan some out to another traveler who has run out of Kip...

    #7 Posted: 30/12/2006 - 18:49

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