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Buddha Park, near Vientiane.  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Laos > Viangchan Prefecture > Vientiane

Vientiane Money & Shopping

  
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Money

Thai baht and US$ are almost universally accepted at stores and restaurants; some places also accept Euros. In some restaurants the bill will state the amount in kip and US$, baht, or Euro or any combination of these. The Government tries to persuade its people to always use only kip, but at the same time its own offices and institutions will gladly accept US$ or even bill their services in US$.

Banks and exchange offices

Banks and exchange offices are plentiful in the city center.

Phongsavanh Bank on Thanon Samsenthai is Vientiane's newest and privately owned bank and operates a currency exchange until about 20:30 on weekdays, and for shorter hours on weekends.

BCEL operates foreign exchange counters on the corner of Thanon Fa Ngum (the river promenade) and Thanon Pang Kham as well as at at the Friendship Bridge, just past the visa on arrival pick-up window. This bank charges no commission, gives better conversion rates, and has longer opening hours than most local banks. BCEL also has an exchange counter.

Home Ideal, a Chinese-owned store, offers a good rate for conversion of USD to Kip. The store is a 2 minute walk on the next street over from Phongsavanh bank.

ATMs

ATMs are also plentiful, but sometimes run out of money, and sometimes do not accept the major international credit and debit card networks. In addition, most have withdrawal limits of 700,000-2,000,000 kip and charge additional fees.

  • ANZV: Allows withdrawals of up to 2,000,000 kip per transaction (around 230 USD) with a 40,000 kip transaction fee. Supports both Visa and Maestro. There are 2 branches in Vientiane. The first is at the main ANZV office located mid-way down Lane Xang. There is also a single ANZV ATM on the corner of Thanon Fa Ngum and Rue Chao Anou.
  • BCEL: Withdrawals are limited to 700,000 kip per transaction (a bit more than 80 USD); however, you may make up to ten of these in one day. Mastercard and Maestro are readily accepted; Visa is currently not. BCEL charges a fee of 20,000 kip per transaction.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are accepted by travel agencies and in better restaurants and shops, but many charge a non-negotiable 3% fee.

Shopping

Handicraft shops

Look for the "Stay Another Day: Laos" booklet for a guide to non-profit handicraft shops, sustainable manufacturing and other NGO stuff in Vientiane and elsewhere in Laos.

Above all, silk and cotton weavings are for sale in the Morning Market and in many shops along Thanons Setthathirat and Samsenthai, and in several of their side roads. In the Morning Market you should bargain; in the other shops you may try to get a discount but don't count on it. 

Supermarkets

Most Supermarkets offer groceries from Europe, wines from all over the world (thanks to the low taxation in Laos these are astonishingly low-priced considering the long transport routes); dairy products from Laos itself and Thailand (milk, yoghurt), butter and cheese from Europe and New Zealand, and everything else one may need.

Books

Several stores around town, including the Full Moon Cafe, offer book buy/sell/exchange services. Some of the tomes on the shelves look as if they have been on a long, long trip in a back pack, but you can find interesting reading material.

Alcohol

Watch out for fake brand name alcohol in Laos.

Shops & Stores in Vientiane

Market Talat Sao - Morning Market
a large collection of indoor stalls selling, well, pretty much anything. There are two floors: the first floor sells mostly textiles, electronics, and watches; the second floor has clothing, gold, and jewelery. Depending on the product, you should negotiate, dis... more
in Vientiane
Shopping Mall Talat Sao Mall
Has 3 floors and is the first public building in Vientiane with an indoor parking. At weekends folks from the countryside come and marvel at the escalators (which, in one local magazine article, were referred to in English as "electricity ladders"), an... more
in Vientiane
 
General/Other Store Home Ideal
Large one stop shop for assorted products from stationery to housewares, clothing to luggage. Prices are fixed and reasonable.
in Vientiane
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store TShop Lai
Sells oils, shampoos, soaps, etc. made by ''Les Artisans Lao'' as well as honey and some nice handicrafts. ''Les Artisans Lao'' is a social venture allowing disadvantaged, uneducated and often marginalized people to receive an app... more
in Vientiane
 
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Mixay Boutic
(yes, that's how they write it) in Thanon Nokeo Kumman (with a branch in Thanon Setthathirat) - they have some women weaving fabrics of the shop's own design on the premises, who you are welcome to watch. Beautiful wall hangings, not the cheapest in town... more
in Vientiane
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Laha Boutique
Thanon Francois Ngin: naturally dyed textiles (mainly cotton) from the south (Savannakhet).
in Vientiane
 
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Kanchana: the Beauty of Lao Silk
traditional Lao silk weavings, hand-woven fabrics, textiles and clothing using natural dyes. Just off Thanon Samsenthai on Thanon Chantha Kumman, the road to That Dam.
in Vientiane
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Lao Textiles
Thanon Nokeo Kumman. Founded 1990 by an American woman (Carol Cassidy), who now employs some 40 artisans, this firm offers modern cotton weavings using traditional motifs and- some of their work has been exhibited in international museums. Prices reflect this bu... more
in Vientiane
 
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store The Art of Silk
Thanon Manthatulat, run by the Lao Women's Union. Silk and cotton weavings in both traditional and modern designs.
in Vientiane
Art/Crafts/Antiques Store Mulberries Lao Sericulture Company
Thanon Nokeo Kumman. The sales outlet of a not-for-profit organisation that operates in about five hundred villages in Northern Laos, seeking to create income generating opportunities. Naturally-dyed, handmade Lao silk products.
in Vientiane
 
These are just 10 of 18 Shops & Stores in Vientiane. Show more.




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