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Where should it cost less to convert Thai Baht to Lao Kip?

In exchange shops in the depth of Bangkok or in an airport in Bangkok?

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    An airport is usually the most expensive place to buy anything (because of the convenience, the effort a customer must make to find an alternative). Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 7:35
  • As Stack Exchange sites we do not supply best place to do something answers, as it depends on too many factors and chances too often.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 8:03
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    My rules of thumb is you always get the best exchange rate in the poorer / less developed country. Also the currency of a poorer / less developed country may be seen as a "minor" currency by its neighbours, meaning you can exchange it easily at the border inside the neighbour but increasingly difficult to impossible the further you get away from the border and into the neighbour country. The reverse will not be true. Thus you get better rates in Laos. It's easy to exchange in Laos. In Thailand it's easy to exchange kip only at/very close to the border. Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 9:23
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    Also, exchanging money, especially for a decent rate has historically been a pain in Thailand, though this may be changing. It used to be that a chain called SuperRich was the only one with great rates, but only in Bangkok. SuperRich in other locations have the best local rates but worse than Bangkok. SuperRich at airports had the best rates in the airport but worse than other SuperRich. Many places had no money exchange places and in those cases you would go to the gold shops. I'm told this has changed but on my recent visits I used bank card and Aeon ATMs. I changed my Malay Ringit in Sadao. Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 9:28
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    I’m voting to reopen, because while giving specific locations to perform the operation is clearly out of scope, giving advice on possible strategies (as evidenced by the comments above, especially hippietrail’s) definitely is.
    – jcaron
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 11:45

2 Answers 2

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Assuming you're going to Laos, the answer is neither: you'll get the best rates buying Lao kip in Laos itself. The currency is minor, not really convertible, and unstable, so exchange rates outside Laos and maybe border towns will be terrible and many changers don't even offer it. Even in Laos, larger purchases including visa fees are often quoted and charged in USD, THB or CNY, depending on where in the country you are. If you're (say) crossing over from Thailand to Vientiane by the Friendship Bridge, you can pay your visa fees by USD and tuk-tuks, hotel etc easily by THB, meaning there's no need to change in advance.

If for whatever reason you absolutely have to buy kip before arrival, one of the major dedicated exchange chains (Superrich, Vasu, etc) will be your best bet and certainly better than the airport.

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    It's worth adding that if you arrive from Thailand with Thai Baht and are worried that you should change money first thing so you'll have local currency, well you probably don't have to. Baht was pretty widely accepted wherever foreigners were expected. But you'll want to be aware of the correct exchange rate to make sure you don't get taken advantage of. Does Superrich definitely sell Kip? I've only bought USD there because that's what you needed to pay for visas-on-arrival in Laos and Cambodia. Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 5:55
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    @hippietrail Their homepage lists rates for LAK: superrichthailand.com/#!/en/exchange Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 8:45
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    You can (well until Covid anyway, I haven't been since) pay for the visa on arrival in THB, done this a few times. But the exchange rate was... unfavorable.
    – dda
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 14:43
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As @lambshaanxy says, you don't have to buy Kip. The THB is accepted just about everywhere, including at the border for the visa. Caveat emptor, though, exchange rates can be wonky, especially for a farang.

If you want/need Kip, the best exchange rate you'll probably get is from an ATM – depending on your bank's policy. Whether your card will work is a bit of a crapshoot though. I'm lucky to have cards with the UnionPay logo (the Chinese network), so they work at many ATMs in Laos.

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    There's a tradeoff with Lao bank ATMs. The greater the maximum withdrawal limit, the higher the fee. BCEL seems to have the lowest fee, ₭20,000 ($1USD) but the most you can withdraw is ₭2,000,000, only $100 USD. Googling tells you most/all ATMs have low maximums but I withdrew up to ₭4,500,000 from LDB (Lao Development Bank) ATMs. Commented Jan 17 at 10:24

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