all about lao atms, fees, costs, & savings

Laos Costs: Laos ATM Fees, Laos Money and charges

Laos is an extremely cost-effective country to travel through.  We traveled from the south to the north.  We did this on a budget but ensured that we also got to check off bucket list items.  We’ll cover in this article how to find the best Laos ATMs, how to minimize your costs for taking money out of ATMs in Laos, and the best way to pay for goods and services in Laos while you’re traveling.


Laos is primarily a cash society, and you’d be advised to plan around this to ensure that you have enough cash available and that you don’t pay over the odds for the services that you buy, whether that’s hotels, tours, food, or transport.


Wise card

Get a Fee Free Card to Use

Get a WISE Card to take to Laos. Two free ATM withdrawals per month, plus free to use to pay by card with zero foreign transaction fees.

Arriving in Laos – Visa Payment in Cash

The Laos visa on arrival price of US$35 was paid in cash (US dollars) and our visa was prepared while we waited.  Most nationalities receive a visa on arrival in Laos.  Payment of this is always in cash.  You can pay in Thai Baht or US Dollars.   US Dollars are ALWAYS accepted.

Laos Cost Savings Tip #1 – Always carry a small stash of US Dollars.  The currency is universally accepted and sometimes your only way through a border.

Using Credit Cards in Laos v Cash

Laos is still (unless you’re traveling at the highest end) pretty much a cash-based society.  While you may be able to use credit and debit cards for some purchases and payments in Laos you will be charged a 3% fee.

Of course, you can always book online with your credit card and save the withdrawal fees – like if you head from Pakse to 4000 islands – booking online saves your cash for the islands, where there are no ATMs.

Laos Costs – All Laos ATMs have Withdrawal Fees

Money in Laos is the Laos Kip.   (k).

Laos on a budget is both easy and difficult.   If you’re paying cash you NEED to be aware that there is an ATM fee at ALL of the ATMs in the country – regardless of whether your bank gives you free foreign withdrawals or not.

The fee differs between providers and they do NOT always tell you that there’s a fee, they just take it.  So BE AWARE.

Reducing Laos ATM fees

Always, if offered, select to be charged by the ATM for your cash in local currency.  This stops the ATM provider from using a fee called Dynamic Currency Conversion – which means that THEY set the exchange rate (and hint – it WON’T be in your favor!)

Laos Cost Saving Tip #2:  Be sure to have an ATM Card where the provider does not charge you for foreign currency withdrawals.


Wise card

Get a Fee Free Card to Use

Get a WISE Card to take on your travels. Two free ATM withdrawals per month, plus free to use to pay by card with zero foreign transaction fees.

Laos ATMs – an overview

You will find ATMs all over Laos, but there is a low maximum transaction.  Laos ATMs may only dispense 700,000k to 2,500,000 kip.  There is also a variable withdrawal fee.

The Laos ATM withdrawal fee ranges from 10,000 Kip to 30,000 Kip PER million Kip withdrawn.

Laos Cost Saving Tip #3:  Always ask for a receipt for your withdrawal.   If you have any problems contact your bank STRAIGHT AWAY.

Laos Banks

Main banks throughout Laos have ATMs that accept PLUS, CIRRUS,  VISA, MasterCard, Maestro, Cashpoint, JCB, China UnionPay, and Diners Club.

Withdrawing money in Laos is easy, it’s just costly.

The list of Laos Banks that accept international cards includes

  • BCEL Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao (Lao Government’s main commercial bank)
  • Banque Franco-Lao (BFL)Joint Development Bank JDB
  • Lao Development Bank LDB
  • BFL
  • Phongsavanh BankPSV

You will find other banks and ATMs, but these are ventures with foreign banking partners. In 2023, BCEL has the most ATMs in Laos and you’re likely to find more of them than any other bank. Their rates are also relatively low (20,000 kip on a 2,500,000 kip withdrawal.

Laos Currency is the Kip

Laos Kip notes come in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and 100,000 kip.   There are no Laos coins in circulation.

Always get change as soon as you can.

The Laotian Kip is a closed currency which means you cannot get hold of it outside the country and you cannot change any leftover notes when you leave (apart from a couple of banks in Thailand), so be sure to change all your money or spend it before you leave Laos.

Laos Costs – ATM Laos Charges and Fees

There is a maximum cash withdrawal that you can make at ATM Machines in Laos.

The Laos ATM withdrawal limit is 2,500,000 (two and a half million) kip.  This is per transaction.

The ATM fees in Laos for this vary from 20,000 kip to 60,000.   Laos ATM Withdrawal Fees are expensive!

Your card will also have a daily limit on withdrawals (in addition to the daily limits that your bank at home sets).  This is usually a maximum of 8 million kip.

Most of the ATMs in Laos will tell you what the current fee for a withdrawal is [note that this is in addition to any charges that come from your card provider.]

Laos ATM transaction limits and Fees

Name of ATMMax per withdrawalATM FeeMax withdrawal per day
BCEL2.5 million kip20,000 kip per transaction regardless of amount2.5 million kip per day
PSV1 million kip20,000 kip per million2 million kip per day
LDB1.5 million kip20,000 kip per million??
JDB2 million kip3% fee2 million per transaction, multiple allowed per day.
ANZL2 million kip20,000 kip per million8 million kip per day

JDB ATM Fees Laos – Fees of 3%, but 24-hour availability.

There is an exception and specifically sneaky was the JDB bank ATM in Laos which took a fee (of 40,000 kip on a 2,000,000 kip withdrawal but didn’t say it was taking one!).  We tried this several times, but always after the fact, the amount was added on.  JDB is now charging 3% on a 2.5 million kip withdrawal, but allowing multiple withdrawals per day.

Laos Cost Saving Tip #4 – JDB Laos for ATM withdrawals – may not inform you of the fee, but is 3% on 2.5 million, is more generally available than others – thanks to Bruno for the update!

Save Money on Accommodation in Laos

One of the ways you can save money on ATM fees is to pre-book and prepay your accommodation using popular sites.

Pay for Hotels and hostels in advance online

As Laos was a more expensive country for us to get cash, we tried to use a credit card to pay for our accommodation.  This meant using a booking site that allowed us to pay in advance on a credit card where possible.

When you’re exploring Laos get out into the country – we loved the  Bolaven Plateau, where we overnighted at Tad Lo with the Fandee Family and their menagerie of kids and animals for US$7.37 for a cottage with a private bathroom – the cheapest place we stayed in Laos.  This is another property that you can’t book online, but there are other options in the area.

Use a hotel comparison site to get the best deal

Use Agoda to get the best deals in Laos and also to book our rooms and pay for them before we arrived.

Laos Cost Saving Tip #5 Book accommodation ahead and pay by credit card.

Save on Booking Transport in Laos

Your transport between places can be an expensive drain on your cash resources.  You can book transport between many locations in Laos online by using 12AsiaGo.

Powered by 12Go system

Booking Tours in Laos

Whether you want to take a workshop or cook with locals, head on a zip-lining tour, or a sunset trip on the Mekong River – book your adventure in advance and you’ll save.

Laos Cost SavingTip #6 – splurge on the great tours and the fabulous things to see in Laos with what you’ve saved on ATM fees!

If you’re traveling to other countries, then our guides to ATMs and ATM fees are here – Guatemala ATM feesColombia ATM feesChile ATM fees, and Japan ATM fees.

Travel Tips for Exploring Laos

Final Words on Laos ATM Fees and Costs

Laos is a fabulous place to travel to and with a little forward planning you can make sure that you keep your dollars for what you really want to do and NOT bank charges!  Let us know your experiences with Laos ATM costs – and we’ll keep this updated with Lao ATM fees for today!

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