The currency is the Lao kip (LAK), which comes in relatively small notes (the largest denomination equals about $12). Most prices in this chapter are listed in kip, sometimes with the U.S. dollar equivalent for reference. The Thai baht is accepted in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and border towns. It's best to carry most of your cash in dollars or baht and exchange relatively small amounts of kip as you travel. At this writing, the official exchange rate is approximately 250 kip to the Thai baht and a little more than 8,100 kip to one U.S. dollar.
There are ATMs throughout the country so changing money is not a big issue.
Credit cards are accepted in most hotels and some restaurants, but few shops. Banks in major tourist destinations will provide a cash advance on a MasterCard or Visa, typically for a 5% service charge. Western Union has branches in Vientiane and other major towns.