1) To get Laotian kip, where is there a reliable ATM in Luang Prabang ? At airport? In town?
2) If there isn't, where is a good place to change $ cash?
3) We're arriving in Luang Prabang on a Sunday. If no ATM, is there anywhere open to change $ cash? Or should / can we get some kip before travelling? (I've been guessing this would be impossible, expensive or illegal.)
4) Our hotel has arranged a car to meet us at Luang Prabang airport at a $ price, which we've agreed. Should we pay this to the driver or the hotel manager, who may intend a cut?
Many thanks for any advice
#1 EdwardTrunk has been a member since 7/9/2013. Posts: 35
One of the largest Banks in Laos, BCEL has ATMs in most tourist towns and bigger cities including Luang Prabang. They have at least one ATM at the airport and several more in town. See http://www.bcel.com.la/en/ATM_Location.aspx so getting kip on arrival should be no problem and anyway your hotel taxi will readily accept $. See current exchange rates at http://www.bcel.com.la/en/ExchangeRate.aspx
Thanks very much for that - with kip from the airport ATM we'll be sure of a good supper that night!
But what's the local convention about whether we pay the agreed-in-advance US dollar taxi fare to the driver or to the hotel manager who arranged it? I don't want to start off on the wrong foot with the hotel manager if those who choose the taxis expect to deduct some $ for themselves.
#3 EdwardTrunk has been a member since 7/9/2013. Posts: 35
It sounds like you may have already started off on the wrong foot if you are looking for a problem here. Perhaps the hotel manager will get a commission for this fare. Perhaps not. But people who provided services, from car mechanics to travel agents and beyond, typically charge a fee for those services. The hotel manager has provided a service to you by arranging a taxi for you. You've already agreed on a fare, so pay it (I'd pay the driver but I imagine either choice is fine) and enjoy the ride from the airport into town.
Have a nice trip.
If you've agreed the fare, then where is the problem? You pay what you agreed. The question is WHO to pay: the driver, or the manager? You may find the driver was commissioned by the hotel, or could be an employee of the hotel. If I'm unsure, I just ask the driver: Do I pay you, or the hotel?" I've never had a problem yet with that approach - a taxi driver isn't going to screw over the hotel manager that got him the job. And the Lao are generally pretty trustworthy and honest.
If you're still concerned, just confirm the point with the hotel via email before you leave.