Photo: Classic scenery surrounds Vang Vieng.

Laos forum

Vientiane: THB, USD or Kip: How much and where to exchange:

Posted by MarcTH on 28/5/2007 at 12:32

Off to Vientiane for 4 nights as of tomorrow, never been before and have no idea what ratio of THB:USD:KIP I should be carrying and if I should buy it here in Thailand or wait until in Vientiane.

The embarrassing part of this first time trip to Laos is that I have lived in Chiang Mai for years! Anyway, point being that my base/starting currency is Thai Baht.

Thanks in advance,


#1 MarcTH has been a member since 28/5/2007. Posts: 2

Posted by robynw4113 on 28/5/2007 at 16:07

Hi Marc, I have been to Luang Prabang in Laos twice this year and have taken USD and Thai Baht. I found guesthouses quoted prices in USD and accepted USD for payment. Other shops and cafes accepted both USD and Thai Baht and Kip, but 99% of the time gave Kip as change even if I'd paid in other currency. They seem to be very good mathematicians! Massages/ tuktuk /boat/tour fares were all quoted in USD. Overall the USD seemed to be the preferred currency in tourist areas. In small local villages they seemed more comfortable with Kip, but that was in rather remote areas. I think that currency exchange counters in other countries do not even deal in Kip, so spend it all before you leave Laos. Regards Robyn.

#2 robynw4113 has been a member since 27/5/2007. Posts: 2

Agoda coupon: Get an extra 7% off selected properties with the coupon code

Posted by ernieh on 28/5/2007 at 20:14

Hi Marc,

The US dollar is the most widely accepted currency at guesthouses, resturants and shops in Laos. It's best to exchange some US dollars for KIP (USD 1 = KIP 9600) for small transactions (i.e. bottle water, internet and tuk tuk rides)

You may want to bring some extra dollars with you as the ATM's do not accept most bank cards or Visa cards.


#3 ernieh has been a member since 21/3/2007. Posts: 49

Posted by somsai on 29/5/2007 at 03:27


I’d have to strongly disagree with the previous two posters.

The very first thing a Laotian person does after getting US dollars in a transaction is go down to the money changer and get it turned into Kip. Watch at the money change window and you will see what I mean. Anyone who pays in dollars is paying the tourist surcharge. It’s true many guest houses price in dollars use the rate of 10,000/1 and you will lose 4%, oh well. The only place you really need dollars is at the border for the visa, or else you lose 250 baht in the exchange rate.

Thousand Baht notes can be changed with just about anyone in Vientiane. It’s the same all the way up and down the border. You might well often get quoted in Baht when they hear your accent. Speak that Thai Nua that they do in Chang Mai, wear a perpetual grin, and I’ll bet you get local price for being nice.

Sabai Dee

#4 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 566
 Send somsai a private message 

Posted by wanderingcat on 29/5/2007 at 09:02

when speaking broken Lao, Thai or Chinese in North Lao, prices were almost always quoted in kip, once or twice in baht (in Huay Xai). a guesthouse owner even told me straight that it'd be cheaper for me to pay him in kip instead of dollars, & that he'd wait for me to make a trip to the bank or moneychanger's. other tourists were always given the price in dollars.

restaurants i ate at all had prices listed only in kip, so not sure what rate they'd give you if you tried to pay in dollars.

#5 wanderingcat has been a member since 21/10/2006. Posts: 730
 Send wanderingcat a private message   Where has wanderingcat been?   Website 

Posted by MarcTH on 29/5/2007 at 10:04

Thanks very much for all the advice.

I'm going to take a couple of hundred US with me along with a few thousand baht and will experiment on how far my northern Thai will get me local currency discounts!

Wish me luck! - and thanks again.


#6 MarcTH has been a member since 28/5/2007. Posts: 2

Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.