Laos Country Guide



The Lao currency is the kip, which is non-convertible (outside Laos), unstable and generally inflationary. Make sure that you get rid of all your kip before you leave the country (unless keeping a handful as a souvenir, which can be exchanged into foreign currencies at Vientiane Airport. Approximate exchange rates as of May 2013 are €1 = 10,000 kip, £1 = 12,000, 1 baht = 260 kip & USD1 = 8,000 kip.

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Notes in common circulation are 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000 and 50,000 kip. The largest note is 100,000 kip but uncommon. Withdrawing the maximum of 1,000,000 kip from an ATM could result in 50 notes of 20,000 kip each. This makes carrying large quantities of kip quite inconvenient. Beware that in remote places only the kip is accepted and no ATMs will be available, so plan ahead. 

Although less common than in the past, the US dollar is sometimes accepted, though usually about 5-10% less than the official rate. Thai baht can also be accepted in many areas near the border, notably Vientiane. More touristy places and banks also accept the euro. Bringing euros could be cheaper than changing euros into baht or US dollars into kip.

Local market in Laos by Vera & Jean-Christophe

What to Buy
Typical Lao dresses in cheap machine-made fabric can be made to order. Expect to pay around USD5 for the fabric and USD2 for labour. Handmade Lao silk is one of the most attractive things to buy in Laos. The Talat Sao (Morning Market) in Vientiane has dozens of small shops selling 100% handmade silk scarves or wall hangings from USD5 upwards depending on the quality, intricacy of design and size. Beware of cheap synthetic fabrics imported from China and Vietnam, sold as "silk". Lao be careful of "antique" silk, made to look old and worn but still attractive - don't pay more than USD30-50. In markets, always bargain - it is expected but keep polite and smile.

Talat Sao Market by B Fram 2006

Country Guide

Laos Hotels
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