While US dollars and Thai baht are often used in Laos, the official currency and one that will surely be accepted is the Lao kip.
Want to learn more about Laos?
- Currency Code: LAK
- Symbol: ₭ or ₭N
- Subunit: att (1/100)
- Coins: 10, 20, 50 att (none in circulation)
- Banknotes: 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 kip (previous coins rare), 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 kip
- GDP (nominal): US$14.971 billion
- Inflation: 3.92%
- Central Bank: Bank of the Lao P.D.R.
The kip has been through many iterations over the years. The Free Lao kip lasted a year in 1946, before France retook control of the country. In 1952, the Royal kip replaced the French Indochinese piastre as the country neared independence. In 1976, a Pathet Lao kip was created for use by the regions under the control of communists
Finally, once the Pathet Lao had solidified their hold on Laos, the new Lao PDR kip was introduced in 1979 and is still used today (known simply as the Lao kip). Inflation following the collapse of the USSR means that coins are no longer in circulation. The government has introduced programs and initiatives to encourage citizens to use the kip over US dollars or Thai baht (both of which are commonly seen).
The LAK is pretty heavily inflated, with the rate falling from around 7700 LAK to 1 USD in 2013 to approximately 8300 LAK to 1 USD now (though it was worse off in 2010).
|₭1||1988||Militia unit left, arms upper right||Schoolroom|
|₭10||1988||Dark brown on multicolor underprint. Lumber mill left, arms upper right||Medical scenes|
|₭20||1988||Arms left, tank/troop column center||Brown and maroon. Textile mill center|
|₭50||1979||Rice planting||Hydro dam|
|₭1,000||2008||Lao Lum, Lao Sung, and Lao Theung women||Cattle herd|
|₭2,000||2011||President Kaysone Phomevihane, Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang||Hydroelectric Complex in Xeset, Laos|
|₭5,000||2003||President Kaysone Phomevihane, Pha That Luang||Cement factory in Vang Vieng|
|₭10,000||2003||President Kaysone Phomevihane, Pha That Luang||Mekong River Bridge|
|₭20,000||2003||President Kaysone Phomevihane; Haw Pra Keaw (Ho Phra Keo)||Small river dam|
|₭50,000||2004||President Kaysone Phomevihane, Pha That Luang||Presidential Palace|
|₭100,000||2011||President Kaysone Phomevihane, Pha That Luang in Vientiane||President Kaysone Phomevihane Statue and Museum in Vientiane|
|₭100,000||2010||King Sethathirath statue, Pha That Luang in Vientiane, Dork Champa Flower and Naga Dragon||Ho Phra Keo Temple in Vientiane|
While Laos remains a developing country, it boasts one of the fastest growing economies in the world (sustaining around 7-8% GDP growth per year). The country supplies hydroelectric power to neighbours, is building a high speed rail link between Vientiane and China, attracts foreign direct investment, and has invested heavily in education and poverty reduction.
That being said, Laos is still one of the poorest countries in the region. With old infrastructure and a reliance on agriculture, many workers remain unskilled. There are signs this could be changing with further investment and a younger workforce coming through.
The Bottom Line
Laos remains a very poor country, however rapid growth and other positives signs hint that things could soon change.
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