Useful information in Vientiane, Laos

Telecommunication

Telecommunications in Vientiane, as in the rest of Laos, needs a lot of improvement. There’s a network of telephone lines though most residents use mobile phones as a primary means of communications. About 11 per cent of the Lao population are internet users with the majority subscribed to fixed-line broadband. In 2008, mobile broadband was launched in the country, boosting internet usage.

  • Beeline
    Chanthabouly District, Vientiane
    Call centres hotline: 123
  • ETL
    Chanthabouly District, Vientiane
    Tel. No.: +(856) 21 260015
  • Unitel
    Saysettha District, Vientiane
    Call centres hotline: 109

Utilities

The state-owned Electricite du Laos (EDL) operates electricity generation, transmission and distribution in Vientiane and the rest of the country. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, 90.6 per cent of households in Laos have access to power. Electricity is charged in three categories:

Power usage in kilowatt hours (kWh) Fees
0-25 kWh 348 kip per kWh
26-150 kWh 414 kip per kWh
Above 150 kWh 999 kip per kWh

Be aware that water shortage is a typical occurrence in Laos, even in the capital city, especially during the dry season (February-May). The Vientiane State Water Supply Enterprise (VSWSE) supplies water to the city. During this period, 165,000 kip is charged for six cubic meters of water. Buy a water tank if you can or other storage to avoid inconvenience.

The Vientiane State Water Supply Enterprise hotline is 1169.

Emergencies

  • Police: 191 or 21-2703
  • Fire Department: 190 or 21-2707
  • Vientiane Municipality Ambulance: 195
  • Setthathirath Hospital (Vientiane): 35-1165 or 35-1135

Embassies/consulates

There are 26 foreign embassies and 21 consulates in Laos. Vientiane hosts all the embassies and nine of the consulates.

Consulates: Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland.

Embassies: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, China, Cuba, East Timor, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Korea (Democratic Republic), Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.

Banking

If you’re staying in Laos for only a couple of months primarily for leisure purposes, you can use your international ATM. Under Lao banking laws, only foreigners with a business visa or a work permit are allowed to open a bank account. Banks require loan applicants to present evidence of local business or other property owned by a Lao citizen sponsor.

There’s a lot of ATMs in Vientiane that will allow you to withdraw a max of 1 or 2 million kip, depending on the bank. The withdrawal fee on foreign debit and credit cards is around 20,000 to 40,000 kip per transaction. If you’re visiting rural areas, be sure to have enough cash as there very few ATMs outside the capital.

ANZ Bank in Laos offers a wide range of banking solutions to individuals and businesses in the country. The minimum opening balance for an Access Account (a debit card) is 4,000,000 kip or US$500. This account will allow you to make cash or cheque deposits and transfer funds in kip, USD or Thai Baht.

  • ANZ Bank
    Chanthabouly District, Vientiane
    Tel. No.: +856 21 222 700-5
    SWIFT Code: ANZBLALA

ACLEDA Bank’s menu of products and services include deposits, credits, fund transfers, cash management and trade finance. If you wish to open a savings account, the initial deposit is 50,000 kip or US$5. A maintaining balance of 50,000 kip to 1,000,000 kip earns an annual interest of 1 per cent.

  • ACLEDA Bank Lao
    Sisattanak District, Vientiane
    Tel. No.: +856 21 264 994
    SWIFT Code: ACLBLALA

ICBC opened its Vientiane branch in 2011 offering financial services including deposits, remittances, loans, foreign exchange and international settlement. The bank has three types of personal accounts:

  • Current saving deposit, an account without any deposit term limitation
  • All-in-One fixed account, which can conduct multiple transactions in kip, USD and Thai baht
  • Personal check account, which includes a cheque book

Maybank opened its first branch in Laos in Chanthabouly District in Vientiane in 2012. The second branch in Sikhottabong District has been operational since March 2016. Currently, the bank offers deposit accounts, loans and advances, trade financing, foreign exchange, remittance and more.

  • Maybank
    Chanthabouly District, Vientiane
    Tel. No.: +856 21 263 100
    SWIFT Code: MBBELALA

BFL offers locals and expats personal banking services that include current accounts, saving accounts, credits and loans, debit cards and the BFL VISA International Debit Card. The International Debit Card Gold Package is an interest bearing account that includes a cheque book, travel insurance, personal accident insurance and free access to e-banking.

For a complete list of banks in Vientiane, visit Bank of the Lao PDR.

Chambers of Commerce

  • Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Australia Chamber of Commerce Lao
  • American Chamber of Commerce
  • European Chamber of Commerce and Industry

 

Know more about Vientiane, Laos with our relocation guide for expatriates:

 

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