I'm wondering how much US$ to enter Laos with.
We hope to do Gibbon Experience (so $333 almost immediately), some of the Nthern loop, LP, Vientiane - fly Pakse, Christmas at Sala Phae $120 (Si Phan Don) plus however long to get to PP. I'm bugeting $32 p/d x 28 days, for 3 people in Laos - so $1350 all up.
How much of this amount should I take in cash $$'s?
I notice that Don Khon and Don Dhet both have money exchanges, do they give cash advances on plastic or cash TC's
Prefer not to carry too much ... or to be left short.
#1 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
there is a fairly extensive threat called "money in laos" that has lots of input on money matters in laos, including posts from several folks who have recently been there. they won't answer your specific questions exactly, but hopefully the info and suggestions will be helpful for you. one recent post said that an international ATM in vientiane (not sure which one) wasn't working, which was distressing news, since i'd used it successfully only about one month ago. anyway, have a look.
also, there are a few U.S. equivalents for "spat the dummy", but i don't think i can type them here. i love aussie slang, so i'll add that one too. thanks.
As a very rough guide (for a moderate spender) I'd say plan for about $50/2000B per person per day (in addition to tour fees) and hope to have some left over at the end. Thai Baht and US$ are happily accepted pretty much everywhere as well as kip. Some places will also take Euros.
Although there are no international ATMs outside Vientiane shops/banks in tourist centers like Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng will readily give you cash advances on Visa/Mastercard for 3-5% commission. Even if the ATM isn't working then you can get a cash advance from banks during working hours (and maybe until about 8pm).
#3 pauljaymes has been a member since 10/7/2006. Posts: 75
Many thanks guys
I've been following your posts in the 'money in laos' thread, but nobody discusses how much cash they're comfortable carrying. Individual choice I suppose, all those small bills are bulky ... although i think exkhmer mentions $5000 a few years ago (possibly in a Cambodian thread) ... maybe a little over the top for me.
Caio for now
#4 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270
oops. sorry. we spent just under $75 per day for the two of us, including tours, visa on arrival, etc, so that was just about $500 for the week for us. we carried it in a combination of cash, including US dollars and thai baht (about $150 worth of each), plus a few travellers checks (we cashed a total of $150 in TCs while there), and an ATM card, which we were able to use in Vientiane. as Paul notes, you can also easily get an advance on an ATM/credit card from banks and shops. we also used our credit cards more than we expected, paying for things like our hotel in Vientiane and a fancy meal in Luang Prabang.
i typically don't like to carry more than a few hundred dollars in cash with me. more than that adds exactly the kind of anxiety i try to escape by going on holiday in the first place. i like to carry a few TCs with me as emergency back up, but rely on ATMs for 90% or more of my travel cash needs. that is a bit tricky in Laos of course.
if you know that the biggest expense will be at the start of the Laos trip at the gibbon experience, then perhaps cash for that large expense, coupled with a few days additional cash for normal expenses combined with an ATM and/or TC's, will work for you.
i hope that better answers your questions. regards.
That's more the info I was after. It's sometimes tricky to establish a benchmark.
#6 marianwarren has been a member since 12/3/2006. Posts: 270