Travel blog of an Indian family as they journey the world.

Tale of Kip – Withdrawing money from ATM in Laos

April 30, 2014  //   by admin   //   comments(0)  //  Travel Advice

ATM Laos
Laos makes you an instant millionaire. One million Lao Kip is equivalent to around 7,500 Indian Rupees or 125 USD. This astronomical valuation can be disconcerting in the beginning but you gradually get used to it.

Contrary to advice dished out by travel guides including Lonely Planet, you do not need to stack up on US dollars and Thai Baht. You can get by the entire country using Kip and there is a good network of ATMs around the major tourist spots to withdraw money. All major guesthouses, restaurants, shops, buses, cars, tuk tuks, tour operators are happy to accept Kip.

ANZ ATMs allow you to withdraw the maximum amount two million kip with an ATM fee of 40,000 kip (Around INR 300 or 5 dollar). While we were able to find ANZ ATMs quite easily in Vientiane, we could not find any of the bank ATMs either in Luang Prabang or in Vang Vieng.

Other banks like BCEL and Lao Viet Bank have a wider network across all cities. However there is a cap on withdrawal, You can only withdraw one million kip and there is a fee of 20,000 kip (INR 150 or 2.5 USD). The 20,000 kip fee applies even if you withdraw much less than one million kip.

We were able to use our ATM cards/ debit cards (visa as well as Maestro) issued by banks from India quite easily in Laos. The banks in Laos are quite transparent about their fee which is stated upfront.

We had no problems in withdrawing money from ATMs. One particular BCEL ATM in Luang Prabang had a quirk – it took around a minute to reboot and start dispensing money, between two withdrawals.

There are several moneychangers in the tourist areas of Laos. Most of them display the current rate quite prominently at their counter. One word of caution, be sure to count the money well. We heard instances of people getting short changed specially counting those millions.

The only problem with Kip – it has virtually no acceptance outside Laos. So you need to spend it all in Laos or bring back some as souvenir if you are a budding notaphilist.

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