Lao kip (K)
Budget: Less than US$50
- Cheap guesthouse room: US$5–10
- Local meals and street eats: US$2–4
- Local buses: US$2–3 per 100km
- Air-con hotel room: US$12–50
- Decent local restaurant meal: US$5–10
- Local tour guide per day: US$25
Top End: More than US$150
- Boutique hotel or resort: US$50–500
- Gastronomic meal with drinks: US$15–50
- 4WD rental per day: US$60–120
Bargaining in most places in Laos is not nearly as tough as in other parts of Southeast Asia. Lao-style bargaining is generally a friendly transaction where two people try to agree on a price that is fair to both of them. Good bargaining, which takes practice, is one way to cut costs.
Most things bought in a market can be bargained for, but in shops prices are mostly fixed. The first rule to bargaining is to have a general idea of the price. Ask around at a few vendors to get a ballpark figure. Once you're ready to buy, it's generally a good strategy to start at 50% of the asking price and work up from there. In general, keeping a friendly, flexible demeanour throughout the transaction will almost always work in your favour. Don't get angry or upset over a few thousand kip. The locals, who invariably have less money than foreign visitors, never do this.
Banks, such as the conveniently located BCEL and Lao Development Bank, have the best currency-exchange rates, though the exchange counter at the Lankham Hotel is good too. All three give cash advances (3% commission) on credit cards. LDB also has Western Union and can exchange US dollar travellers cheques (1%).
ATMs are plentiful in the city centre.