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ATMs in laos

  • gorkreg

    Joined Travelfish
    20th October, 2011
    Posts: 15

    What is the ATM situation in Laos? I prefer to rely just on them (with some Euros in case of emergency). If this is not possible, what are the best places to exchange Euros (banks, money exchangers, etc)?

    Also, I am going to be entering Laos from Vietnam by road (probably Tay Trang or Na Meo). How do I get kips after I've entered the country? I guess there are no ATMs around.

    Thanks

    #1 Posted: 11/12/2011 - 14:33

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  • gorkreg

    Joined Travelfish
    20th October, 2011
    Posts: 15

    Sorry, I forgot to add that I don't have a credit card so I will bge using debit cards.

    #2 Posted: 11/12/2011 - 14:35

  • altmtl

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    From what I've seen there are ATM service charges and the amount you can withdraw at one time is pretty small as compared to Thailand, You should be able to change Dong into Kip when you arrive, but I'd carry some US$ as well.

    http://www.retire-asia.com/lao-bank.shtml
    http://www.laos-guide-999.com/laos-currency-exchange-rates.html

    #3 Posted: 11/12/2011 - 14:48

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
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    Although I didn't use them, I saw ATM's in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse and That Teng). I was surprised to see them (two of them!) - in That Teng, a small junction town in the Plateau. I guess it means that are starting to pop up in the small towns now as well, which is good news for travellers and local alike.

    I chose not to use them though because of the fees and the ridiculous minimal withdrawal amounts allowed, and instead preferred to carry enough cash to see me through.

    #4 Posted: 11/12/2011 - 15:40

  • altmtl

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    I agree with the cash idea, but when you're there for a month, and a month elsewhere beforehand, that's a lot of cash to carry around - I'm thinking cash advance on the credit card with the teller in the bank (with the money already on the card to avoid the daily interest charges) - there will still be a fee, but you can withdraw more?

    #5 Posted: 11/12/2011 - 17:50

  • jonnypcraft

    Joined Travelfish
    11th December, 2011
    Posts: 2

    "You should be able to change Dong into Kip when you arrive, but I'd carry some US$ as well."


    We flew into Vietienne last week from Hanoi, and you can not change Dong into Kip at the ariport. They told us it was worthless now we were out of the country. However there is a Western Union in Vietienne that will change Dong into Kip, but only the plastic notes.

    #6 Posted: 11/12/2011 - 22:30

  • Captain_Bob

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    27th May, 2006
    Location Thailand
    Posts: 1606

    "What is the ATM situation in Laos? I prefer to rely just on them"

    Bad idea, unless you're in Vientiane which has many ATMs and other options. Luang Prabang and other major tourist destinations and bigger towns have ATMs these days, but while the situation is improving you can still find yourself unable to cash-up due to network failure or banknotes simply depleted (esp. on weekends when the machines aren't stocked up). Always maintain enough cash (kip, dollars, baht, euros, etc) to see you through a few days. Vietnamese dong is (like Laos kip) a soft currency, difficult to exchange once out of the country, although along land borders it can usually be exchanged. Once you're in Laos, kip is the way so get some by whatever means and maintain a decent stash, but spend/change it before you leave.

    #7 Posted: 11/12/2011 - 23:42

  • gorkreg

    Joined Travelfish
    20th October, 2011
    Posts: 15

    Thanks for your help :-) It seems that ATM is not the way to go :-( I like to use the country's currency whenever possible so I guess that the best option is to carry some cash and exchange it at the border. Are Euros ok or it has to be Dollars?

    #8 Posted: 12/12/2011 - 02:33

  • jonnypcraft

    Joined Travelfish
    11th December, 2011
    Posts: 2

    Not sure about Euros as our french friend paid for his lao visa at the land border with euros and he got stung. Ended up paying the equivilent of $40 instead of the $30 for french nationalities. Dollars all the way.

    #9 Posted: 12/12/2011 - 04:25

  • Captain_Bob

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    Don't get me wrong - you can still use most ATMs most of the time where they exist in major towns, but just have a backup plan. I usually bring a stack of Thai 1000 baht notes (or for you it could be Euros) change to kip as needed and use ATMs to get more. $USD are only useful when paying for your visa, airline tickets, and if staying at a posh hotel that lists prices in $. Otherwise it's pretty much kip all the way.

    #10 Posted: 12/12/2011 - 09:43

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  • altmtl

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    Actually bring more Thai baht might be an easier solution for me, but it's still a lot of money to carry around.

    1000 Thai Baht = 258475 Kip = 32 USD

    #11 Posted: 12/12/2011 - 12:43

  • exacto

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    Laos is one of the few places where I still use travellers checks. I keep a few as an emergency back up. But on my last few trips, I noticed that Lao Development Bank gave a slightly better exchange rate for TCs and did not have a service charge either.

    As Bob-O says, kip is the way to go these days, but you can always swap those dollars or euros or 1000 baht notes into kip as needed. If you carry a few smaller notes with you then you can buy just those few extra kip you need before you cross the border into your next destination.

    The ATM network in Laos is much much better than it was even 5 years ago, but they are still few and far between when compared to places like Thailand or Indonesia. It is smart to have a back up plan, which for me includes a few TCs in addition to at least two days cash on hand - just in case. Regards.

    #12 Posted: 12/12/2011 - 15:01

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 953

    I only use ATMs here. I have not used Travellers' Cheques anywhere for at least 20 years. I VERY rarely have a problem getting money from an ATM. What most posters seems to forget or don't know is that even IF the ATM is not functioning, you can pop into a bank and get your cash over the counter with a debit card. Of course you can't on a Saturday or Sunday, but you have to be extremely disorganised not to be able to manage your money over a weekend.
    I have some cash and use my card, and that is it.
    jjnnypcraft, why do you think your mate got "stung". He didn't. The fee is payable in USD, and this is common knowledge. If you choose to pay in Baht or Euro, you will get a very poor exchange rate. This is not getting stung, rather your friend did not do his homework and paid the price.

    #13 Posted: 12/12/2011 - 20:09

  • altmtl

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    I tried to use my debit card over the counter in Thailand & no go. We have a different system in Canada in that your debit card is not linked to your credit card.

    I was under the impression TC's were a hassle in Laos and that there was a high commission?

    Found this: "*American Express does not approve the sale or use of its products, or any services related to its products in the following countries: Burma (Myanmar), Cuba, Iran and Sudan. American Express further does not recommend the use of Travelers Cheques in Syria, North Korea, Albania, Algeria, Laos, Libya, Nigeria, Haiti, Congo, Lebanon, Pakistan, Paraguay, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, SAO-Tome and Ivory Coast."

    #14 Posted: 12/12/2011 - 23:49

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    i can only speak from my own experience, but i've successfully used TCs in laos on several trips over the last 13 years and as recently as last year. no hassle at all and apart from having to show my passport as ID about as easy as exchanging cash. i can't speak for exchange booths or other banks, but lao development bank was not charging any commission and offering a slightly better rate as recently as early last year.

    where did you find the quote? was it directly from an American Express information source or somewhere else? i wouldn't think that Laos belongs in that list of other countries mentioned above.

    #15 Posted: 13/12/2011 - 01:03

  • altmtl

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    yes on the AMEX site: http://www.aetclocator.com/us/ - fine print

    "At ANZV’s ATM you can withdraw up to 2 million Kip (US$241.5) at a time and up to 4 times a day (total of 8 million Kip per day). The transaction fee is 20,000 Kip per transaction." - Another source says it's a 40,000 Kip fee.

    #16 Posted: 13/12/2011 - 01:40

  • Rufus

    Joined Travelfish
    22nd April, 2007
    Location Laos
    Posts: 953

    It is a 40,000 Kip fee at ANZ Atms, (2 mill max) and 20, 000 at nearly all others, (1 mill max)
    Apart from Lao Dev Bank, all other banks charge a commission for TCs. The rates are usually a bit worse for TCs as well, though there is not much in it.

    #17 Posted: 13/12/2011 - 03:21

  • cynthiawinn

    Joined Travelfish
    21st December, 2010
    Posts: 2

    If I understand correctly, there are ATMs in noted cities in Laos, and, given the cost of living and the ability to make multiple withdrawals (early in the day), an ATM card can be very useful in Laos?How about Cambodia? Thanks.

    #18 Posted: 19/12/2011 - 11:34

  • altmtl

    Click here to learn more about altmtl
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    From what I've read "It seems that all ATMs in Cambodia now charge an extra $4-$5(+ your bank's fee) for using a foreign ATM card. I've tried a different bank each time I've needed cash this week, and so far all three banks have charged the fee" - The limit is anywhere from $250 USD to $800 - depending on the bank, but I have no first hand experience, I've only seen it on other forums.

    #19 Posted: 19/12/2011 - 16:42

  • altmtl

    Click here to learn more about altmtl
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    I'm wondering if this might be a better idea to cut down on fees... as the withdrawal limit in Thailand is 20,000 baht, I might be better off withdrawing the max amount there and then changing it to KIP ?

    #20 Posted: 21/12/2011 - 03:26

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