Guest houses in Luang Prabang may be priced in US dollars but they readily accept Laos Kip - it is the currency of the country after all and we found the opposite. We were carrying US dollars but many small businesses wouldn't accept them. Having said that the money exchange offices in LP offer up date - literally by the hour - top exchange rates.
#3 robmacca has been a member since 16/7/2009. Posts: 27
no need to carry dollar bills with you.
ATMs in luang prabang and vientianne work with international cards and you can withdraw from your accound in local currency (kip) that you can use to pay for the room, etc.
i think the exchange rate is around 8500 kip for 1 USD.
#4 saso has been a member since 6/10/2009. Posts: 10
Above a certain price point, some guesthouses and many hotels do list their prices in dollars and then it's best to pay in dollars or else they will calculate a slightly advantageous (for them) rate to convert from kip or other currency. That and when you buy your visa on arrival would be the times to have dollars. For pretty much everything else - kip rules.
The Lao government now requires prices for goods and services to be published in local currency – kips; vendors can of course still accept the kip equivalent in dollars or baht, usually at a lower rate than the banks.
Nevertheless you will see hotels and guesthouses and tourist-type outlets still showing US$ prices.
Re ATMs, these are becoming more plentiful around the Vientiane capital area and some suburbs. Some are for domestic bank accounts only.
No Lao ATMs dispense dollars or baht but these and other main currencies can be bought and sold at banks and exchange kiosks.
So far, only 3 Lao banks have international ATMs which use the PLUS/Maestro network for VISA, MasterCard etc – ANZV, BCEL & JDB.
Only BCEL has ATMs in towns outside Vientiane.
Withdrawal fees are usually 20,000 kips ($2.35) per transaction, and this is where you can save money as the banks have different limits. As your own bank may charge extra for foreign withdrawals, plus exchange, this can all reduce the value of your money.
The best ATMs are ANZV, but they are only around Vientiane (the Pakse branch does not have one as far as I know). The transaction limit is 2 million kip ($236) with a daily maximum of 8 million (over $900). Your own card limit may apply, however.
Next is JDB (more machines than ANZV) with a 20,000 kip fee and 1 million per transaction, maximum 3-5 million per day. The most I've had is 4.
Least attractive is BCEL but they also have ATMs in other provinces. 30,000 transaction fee for maximum 700,000 kip, a little over $80. Quite expensive by comparison.
The Lao Development bank has branches in many small towns and apparently will allow cash withdrawals from credit and certain types of debit card.
I found a lot of useful Lao information at Retire-Asia.com, especially banking information for foreigners plus surprisingly about annual fixed deposit rates of 12% at http://www.retire-asia.com/lao-bank.shtml
#6 laobali has been a member since 21/12/2009. Posts: 2