I apologize for the redundant question, but I am unable to find current information...some posts say there are not ATMs in Laos and another post talks about a Canadian using their ATM in Laos, but it is all old information (searched lots of sites). Please, I need to know if there are ATMs, and if not will bring baht (2 week visit)since that seems to be the most recommended currency (other than USD for visa). Thank you, and again, sorry for the redundancy...
There was an ATM In Pakse in July 09. Used it twice with no problems. There were no ATMs south of that at the time. I don't know anything about north of that but if in Pakse I would assume at least the capital and luang prabang.
Having said that some people have had problems with the atms there, so for a 2week trip i would just bring baht and american dollars. Some tours had better prices if you paid in dollars than the local currency. Its easy to exchange money there and the rates are fine.
Just change what you need cause you are stuck with it once you leave.
#2 prana16 has been a member since 22/6/2009. Posts: 17
seen atms in everywhere i've been in laos so far: luang nam tha, luang prabang, vang vieng, vientiane and pakse. they seem to be mushrooming so i'm sure you won't have a problem.
#3 damo has been a member since 9/11/2009. Posts: 14
i was in luang prabang and to verify once again, yes there's an ATM there which worked for me (I used visa). the ATM i used allowed withdrawals in multiples of 20,000kip.
many of the money exchanges had the visa/mastercard cash-withdrawal service too. rate was 8000kip to the dollar, on top of the usual 3.1% bank charge. they usually have a withdrawal minimum too though, about 500,000kip if i remember correctly.
haven't checked if i got a better rate withdrawing at the ATM, but i didn't really bother since i seldom needed it, and wasn't taking that much out. even then it looks like the ATM is great since you can withdraw less than 500,000.
#4 ynay has been a member since 15/12/2009. Posts: 7
For 2 weeks? Just stick some money in your pocket and go!
Use kip once you get there, other currencies are for people that like to pay more, change back at the money change booth on the way out of the country.
Here's a list of towns with ATMs http://www.bcellaos.com/atm_locator.php
But I'd warn, many times they are out of order, overdrawn, or have other problems. I usually consider a town having an ATM to be a little black mark on the desireability meter. A pretty good indicator that the places is becoming pedestrian.
Thanks, and I agree about no ATMs actually being a good thing. I am going to Laos without doing hardly any pre-researching, so wanted to make sure I could get $ should that in my pocket go quickly - I have no idea how much things cost and will find out when I get there...
If you're going to Laos from Thailand I'd just grab a stack of thousand baht notes, then change them into kip as you go. Don't enter Laos expecting ATMs to work although they're usually ok. Have seen plenty of miserable people lying around next to disfunctional ATMs unable to continue their travels.
We were in Luang Prabang for several days in March, '09, and used a couple of BCEL ATM'S with almost no hitch (one was out of cash one Sunday afternoon). We also went to a moneychanger twice (in a booth outside a shop on the north side of Sisavangvong, a couple of blocks east of the Post Office). After we were back home, I looked at my bank statements and added up the various fees charged (at both ends), and concluded that I got a slightly better rate from the moneychanger.
It was mostly USD 100's that I exchanged. That may have affected the exchange rate I was getting.
Bank fees for ATM foreign withdrawals do vary rather a lot, so you might check with your bank (or others in your area) to see how they compare. Cash travels best, of course (as long as you can safely hold it).