The official currency of Laos is the kip, however Thai baht and US dollars are widely accepted and often preferred. Coins come in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 cents, while banknotes are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 and 5,000 kip.
Cash is paramount in Luang Prabang, with prices frequently quoted in three currencies: Lao kip, US dollar and Thai baht. Two ATMs are available in the city, one at each of Luang Prabang’s BPCEL branches, but visitors should not rely on being able to withdraw cash from either of these facilities.
Internationally recognised credit cards are accepted at some hotels and shops, and they can be used at some banks to get cash advances. Travellers’ cheques can be cashed at banks and at money exchange outlets, but are not commonly accepted at shops. Emergency money transfers can be made through Western Union, which is represented in Luang Prabang.
The import and export of the following items is restricted: firearms, religious materials, foreign currency, antiquities and cameras. Visitors wanting to bring any of these items in or out of the country should contact their nearest Lao embassy in advance of travel for more information. Visitors must seek authorisation if they wish to import or export more than US$2,500, or the equivalent.
All persons entering Laos must fill out a customs declaration form. Duty free allowances per person are: 1 litre of sprits and 2 litres of wine; 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco; and 50 grams of perfume.