Best Currency to Use in Laos: USD, Thai Baht or Kip?

Unlike most other South East Asian countries, there are three used currencies in Laos: Laos Kip, Thai Baht, and US Dollars. In such a scenerio, tourists often find it confusing whether to use Laos Kip (LAK), Thai Baht (THB), or USD, or all? So to ease your burden, here we are: the Best Currency to Use in Laos: USD, Thai Baht, or Kip?

Before we moving directly to the main question, let’s see how Laotian people use their currencies.

Laos Currencies

   Laos Kip

First we have Laos’ national currency which is Laos Kip. Laos Kip does not have any sort of coins, so there is no need to bother. The money notes’ denominations are: 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000, 20.000, 50.000, and 100.000, respectively. At the time of this article, the exchange rate is approximately 8100 LAK for 1 USD; and about 234 LAK for 1 THB.

best currency to use in laos

For many tourists, Laos Kip is the most used for cheap accomodations, foods and drinks, snacks, .etc… For that reason, lots of seasoned travelers recommend using Laos Kip as payment in case of traveling with low budget.

   Thai Baht

Thai Baht is accepted in almost everywhere in Laos. Currently the exchange rate is about 234 LAK for 1 THB. Some consider Thai Baht to be mid-level-currency for mid-cost goods and services. Some others comment that in several tourism spots, the locals prefer Thai Baht to any other currencies (However this information is not guaranteed).

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   US Dollars

People said that back in the days (around 90s), Laos people mostly accept US Dollars as the payment from visitors. Nowadays, Laos Kip is widely accepted, alongside with USD, making USD not the only popular option.
However, due to the huge exchange rate, many tourists consider USD as the payment for expensive, high-class goods and services like luxurious resorts and hotels. Also USD is good for several areas where people accept payment via credit cards. Interestingly, some people said that it is not a good idea to use USD all the time, since you might pay more than necessary.

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Finally, best currency to use in Laos is…?

With all those stuffs, the final question is: what currency should we use in Laos? Let say the answer is Laos Kip and US Dollars. So why’s that?

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In Laos, the costs of living are not expensive, compared to Western standard. If we go for a low-budget tour, the price for cheap accomodation is around 3 – 10 $USD. Local meals and street foods are around 1 – 2 USD. And for those who use local buses, the cost is about 2 – 3 $USD (per 100 kilometers). Due to the cheap cost, It is better to pay in Laos Kip than in USD, also we all probably want to avoid paying higher price than normal.

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Laos Street Food and Snacks

For an average-cost tour, the price for a hotel room is about 15 – 50 $USD (room including standard facilities such as air-conditioner). The price for a meal in local restaurant is around 5 – 10 $USD; and 25 $USD per day for tour guide services. Finally with high-end services, we have 50 – 500 $USD as price for more luxurious hotels and resorts, 15 – 50 $USD for meal.

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Riverside Boutique Resort

As we can see, there are various options to choose from, from budget tour, to high-class tour. As for most of the time, it is still the best idea to pay in Laos Kip for low and medium price. For expensive cost, we pay in USD. To this point, some people may wonder: “why don’t we use Thai Baht?”. Let say, Thai Baht is most suitable when we’ve traveled to Thailand beforehand, or we plan to go Thailand after Laos. Otherwise, Thai Baht won’t be necessary. In addition, there are lots of international ATMs in major cities of Laos. Exchanging between USD and Laos Kip is pretty easy.

In the end, we don’t want to keep so many kinds of currency. At the moment, it seems both Laos Kip and USD, is the best currency to use in Laos: LAK for common expense, and USD for tourism activities and expensive services.

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