Is it easy to get hold of dollars in Northern Thailand with credit/debit card as I will be crossing from there to Laos where ATMs seem to be quite rare? I assume that it is but just want to make sure and not carry too much cash around needlessly. :)
Also is it wise to take as much dollars as budgeted use is in the country/countries or is it possible to withdraw money in Laos (or Cambodia) aswell, apart from capitals?
#1 gilrand has been a member since 8/6/2009. Posts: 15
Elsewhere on Travelfish, contributors have been expressing the point That the Laos Gov't wants ppl to deal in Lao KIP.
I was in nthn Laos in April last, and entered with some Thai baht - which was readily accepted.
I used the ATM's in the region with little problem (except for the small 'daily limit' issue).
Very recently, several contributors have talked about problems with the BCEL ATM's in Laos (look here .
By the time you get to Luang Prabang, there may be an ANZ brand ATM there, which would suggest little or no probs.
While US$ are readily exchangeable anywhere, I don't know where you'd get them in north Thailand as ppl use baht.
My experience in nthn Thailand is that when I used an ATM, I got Baht. If you wanted to exchange them to US$, you'd have to take a cut.
So, my suggestion is to take some (but not a lot) of Baht. When you get to Laos, approach a bank to see if they can get KIP for you without you needing to use an ATM.
"While US$ are readily exchangeable anywhere, I don't know where you'd get them in north Thailand as ppl use baht."
How about banks?
It's easy enough to buy dollars at banks in Bangkok.
Don't they do foreign exchange in towns like Chiang Mai or Udon Thani?
Yes, you can 'buy' U$ at Thai banks but if you've already got lots of Thai bahts then just exchange bahts into kips when you get into Laos. Otherwise the more times you're exchanging from one currency into another, the more you'll lose in value.
Not only is it official policy that be used in Laos but it's just common sense that using local currency is almost more advantageous for day to day expenses. Some Lao merchants might accept U$ or Thai but they are almost always rounding down the foreign exchange value to your disadvantage.
Lao Development may still NOT charge to cash U$ traveler's checks into kip but they will charge to cash TCs into dollars as will most other Lao banks. Most other Lao banks do charge to cash TCs into kip and it's a PER TC charge (and more expensive than in Thailand where it costs nearly U$1/TC) so it's best to exchange larger TC notes than small TC denominations.
No ANZ Bank in Luang Prabang yet; at least not when I left in mid-March this spring.
And yes, good advice above about not depending solely upon ATMs in Laos. There are still reports by travelers of having their accounts debited without getting back kips in exchange so good idea to read the link that Bruce connected to.
I haven't done it but have read many reports that ATMs in Cambodia do allow for U$ withdrawals.
#4 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136
"How about banks?"
Isn't language interesting, what one writes can be differently interpreted. Or, as Fiske indicated, people imaginate what they like.
I read the topic raised by Gilrand as withdrawing money from an ATM.
On that score, ppl get Baht in Thailand, KIP in Laos, etc..
I'd agree with you that banks exchange currency - but usually at a rate that advantages them. Then, there are non-bank exchange agents: usually with a better exchange rate.
seagypsy, your post came in after I started writing.
Gilrand, I withdrew from an ATM in Siem Reap (ANZ brand) and it charged US$4 to withdraw. It supplied my cash in US$. Another post on the Cambodia 'thread' offers guidance to ATM's in PP that are fee free.