Money and duty free for Laos
Currency and Money
Lao Kip (LAK; symbol ₭) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of ₭50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1. Most transactions are conducted in cash; American Dollars, Thai Baht or Lao Kip (LAK).
Major credit cards are accepted in the more upmarket hotels and restaurants only in Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Several banks will also offer a cash advance on credit cards for a commission.
Nowadays most ATMs are reliable. However there is a limit on how much you can withdraw during a day, and currently the withdrawal limit per day is set at approximately 1,000,000 LAK, roughly £65. Vientiane has the biggest selection of ATMs in the county, especially around Th Setthathriat. Major hotels are likely to have an ATM on-site too.
The domestic economy in Laos still depends on the Thai baht and the US dollar; pounds and euros, less so. In fact, two-thirds of the cash in the capital Vientiane, is Thai or American. Although only kip is legally negotiable in everyday transactions, it’s worth remembering that for small purchases and transactions, prices will be quoted in kip, larger transactions, i.e for hotels or transport, it’s likely the price will be quoted in dollars. This is relevant for whereabouts you are too - in larger cities Thai baht or US dollars are more in use, whereas in smaller towns and villages, kip is usually preferred. In spite of relative current stability, the kip is not yet a stable currency.
Limited acceptance and often with a hefty commission charge – available at most banks in Vientiane. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Thai Baht.
Mon-Fri 0830-1600. Some banks remain open during lunch.
The import and export of local currency is prohibited. The import and export of foreign currency is unrestricted, subject to declaration of amounts more than US$2000 on arrival.
Thai Baht, US Dollars, Euros and the British Pound are the easiest currencies to exchange. They are also widely accepted in shops, markets and hotels in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
Laos duty free
The following goods may be imported into Laos by travellers aged 16 and over without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 1L of spirits and 2L of wine.
• 50ml of perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette.
• Goods up to the value of US$50.
You must declare any antique items purchased in other countries.
Prohibited and restricted goods include products affecting national security and stability or public health, narcotics, wildlife, endangered species, and historical artefacts.
Any antiques of great historical value. You should check with the Ministry of Information and Culture before exporting cultural artefacts.
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