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Travel Guide > Asia > Laos

Laos Good to Know

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Internet cafés

Internet cafes can be found in larger towns, however access speeds are usually painfully slow. The most reliable connections are in Vientiane, and usually cost around 100 kip/minute, with the cheapest offering 4000 kip/hour. In many normal cafés they're offering free WiFi-access for your laptop, when you're consuming something (check first if it's really free). GPRS via mobile phone is also an option, if you have a local or Thai SIM.

Mobile phones

Mobile phone usage in Laos has mushroomed, with four competing GSM operators. Two of these offer roaming services. Calling people on the same network is always cheaper than calling another network, but there is no clear market leader. Tourist and expats tend to prefer Tigo or M-phone (Laotel), while locals could have any of the four networks.

ETL Mobile is known to have better coverage in rural and remote parts of Laos. However, in Laos "better" certainly does not mean "everywhere". They seem to have low-cost international call service too.

Laotel has agreements with some 30 international networks - see roaming with Laotel

Tigo has agreements with over 100 International phone networks - see roaming with Tigo Another popular choice, they also have low-cost international rate of 2000 kip/minute to many countries, if you buy their SIM card and dial "177" instead of "+". However, as of February 2009, Tigo's coverage is still said to be poor away from larger towns.

Unitel or starphone (the old name of this network) is available too.

Local prepaid SIM cards can be purchased in various shops and stores without any paperwork (at least for M-Phone and Tigo).

Also, there is Thai GSM coverage close to Thai border (including a significant part of Vientiane), and Thai SIM cards and top-up cards can be bought in Laos; in addition, DeeDial International Call Cards are available. Thus, if you already have Thai number, you can use (generally cheaper) Thai network and/or avoid buying one more SIM. However, beware - if your Thai SIM has International Roaming switched on, your phone will use Lao network when your Thai network is not available, and the roaming charges will be significantly higher. 

Postal service in Laos is slow but is reliable.


Lao work permits are difficult to obtain, unless you can secure employment with one of the numerous NGOs. English teaching is possible but poorly paid (US$5-8/hour).

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