Laos Country Guide



ATM & Banks

There are many ATMs in Vientiane and they have also appeared in other major cities and towns including Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Savannekhet, Tha Khaek, Pakse and Louang Namtha. Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao (BCEL), the largest bank in Laos, accepts both Visa (including Cirrus) and MasterCard (including Maestro) but surcharges of USD1-2 apply.
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ATM transactions are much more expensive in Laos than the typical charge for withdrawing cash from ATMs in other countries. Furthermore, the use of both ATMs and credit cards in banks is subject to computer operation, staff's computer skills, power cuts, telephone network breakdowns and other factors. A few travellers have been forced out of the country prematurely as they couldn't withdraw funds to further their travels. Always bring cash as well. Changing money can be next to impossible outside major towns. Banks give good rates and private exchange booths are common in the major tourist areas.

Lao Development Bank ATM by GuillaumeG

Many banks, travel agents and guest houses will allow you to take out cash using a credit card for cash advance. This usually occurs by withdrawing money in US dollars and the card issuer will usually charge a fee (about 3%), the Lao bank involved will charge about 3%, and then the agent providing the cash advance might (or might not) charge another 3%, and then the amount is converted from US dollar to kip at a poor exchange rate, costing another 5% or so.

Expats living in Vientiane usually cross the border into Thailand, going to neighbouring Nong Khai (across the Mekong River from Vientiane) or Udon Thani (further away) to get cash from the ATMs. The maximum per transaction at the ATM in Thailand is 20,000 baht (USD680) compared to 1,000,000 kip (USD130) in Laos. You get a better exchange rate for the US dollar with your card at the ATM in Thailand, even after you convert the baht into kip in Laos.

Road to Nong Khai by Oatz

Country Guide

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Huay Xai
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