A practical foreign exchange and currency guide to Laos
What's in this Laos currency guide:
The official currency of Laos is the Laotian kip, with symbol ₭ and currency code LAK.
16 Sep 2022
02 Jul 2022
30 Sep 2021
01 Oct 2017
02 Oct 2012
05 Oct 2002
The below comparison table makes it easy to find the best exchange rates and lowest fees when you want to make a Transfer or Spend Laotian kip.
Laos retains many of the traditions that have disappeared in a frenzy of development elsewhere in the region. It’s hard to believe somnolent Vientiane is an Asian capital, and there’s a timeless quality to rural life, where stilt houses and paddy fields look like they are straight out of a movie set. Magical Luang Prabang bears witness to hundreds of saffron-robed monks gliding through the streets every morning in a call to alms, one of the region’s iconic images. Intrepid travellers will discover a country untainted by mass tourism and Asia in slow motion.
US cash and Thai baht is commonly used for larger purchases. Kip is a non-convertible currency, meaning once you have left Laos, its useful only as wallpaper!
Banks outside Laos will not accept nor exchange kip. International access ATMs dispensing US dollars can be found in most major tourist centres across the country.
You will need to have USD20 for the Cambodian visa and USD30 for the Laos visa.(Don’t forget to have your passport photos handy). Just check the cost for your Lao visa – prices vary a little depending on where you are from.
You should use the ATMs for local currency (Kip). Some take USD, but not everywhere and local is preferred. Credit cards are not widely used – some very high end restaurants may have facilities but certainly no street restaurant will.
Public transport is relatively comprehensive and inexpensive, but very, very slow. Driving standards are woeful and seatbelts are close to non-existent, but speeds do tend to be slow. Motorcycle taxis are a very common way to get around. Don’t expect the bus to leave on time, nor for your mojito to have enough mint in it.
The tourism industry is developing and considerable resources are being poured into training, particularly in Luang Prabang.
Outside of the main tourist centres, don’t be surprised by the complete lack of tourist infrastructure. Don’t let the slow buses put you off. Laos is a fascinating destination. It takes a long time to get around — especially in the north — so don’t try to bite off more than you can chew.
In Laos, less is more: See fewer places for longer stretches and you’ll have a better time.
With its dark and brooding jungle, glowing emerald rice fields, and the glistening tea leaves that blanket the mountains, the landscape in Laos changes shades of green like a chameleon. But it’s not just the luscious landscapes that are green: when it comes to ecotourism, Laos is leading the way in Southeast Asia. Protected areas predominate in remote areas of the country, and community-based trekking combines these spectacular natural attractions with the chance to experience the ‘real Laos’ with a village homestay.