At the moment I am in Chiang Mai and am crossing to Laos tomorrow. I have heard the Laos only accepts Lao Kip, however am struggling find any to buy in Chiang Mai, as the banks won't sell any. Does anyone have any tips regarding locations to buy kip?? I am going to need kip before arriving in Luang Prabang for the slow boat ticket, accommodation ect. Any suggestions would be welcomed, at the moment I am unsure how I am going to buy anything on arrival to Laos!
US dollars are a de facto currency in Laos.
In the border areas with Laos even some Thai baht can be used.
Kip is useful when purchasing cheap stuff unless you don't want any change back when using dollars.
Don't leave Laos with their currency because it is difficult to change it in a different country.
Do not even try to buy Lao currency until you get there.
You will be fleeced on an exchange, and thoroughly taken advantage of if you try to exchange for kip in Thailand. Plus it is really not needed.
I agree with the above that US dollars, or even Thai baht will make due, until you can exchange in Laos. I was in Laos for just over a month a few years ago- so I did exchange dollars for kip- and used it for lots of small purchases. But almost anywhere you will go, as a tourist, people will be happy to take payment in dollars.