How and where to buy SIM card at Loas

How & Where To Buy A SIM Card In Laos (For Foreigners)?

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Having internet in a new city or a different country is absolutely necessary. From informing your friends and family once you land to navigating your accommodation from the airport, you need the internet. But wait. If you don’t have a working SIM in your destination country, how should that happen? Here is a blog that covers all the information needed to buy a SIM card in Laos, along with other details like the documents needed, the best places to buy it, which network to pick, and anything in between.

Buying a SIM Card in Laos

What Documents Are Required?

You only need your passport to buy a SIM card in Laos. There is no need for any other documents or passport-size photographs. 

SIM Card Providers

Unitel and Lao Telecom (LaoTel) are the largest telecom providers in Laos. Other network providers include TPlus and ETL. 

Unitel is a joint venture between the state-owned Lao Asia Telecommunication State Enterprise and Vietnam-based Viettel group. Lao Telecom is a joint venture between the Lao Government and another company.

eSIM Cards

Both Unitel and LaoTelecom have eSIM cards. If you prefer to buy a SIM card before you land in Laos, you can get it through companies like Nomad, Airalo, and SimOptions. This is a pricier alternative but handy if you plan to backpack through different countries. 

How Much Does It Cost?

We compare the cost of Unitel and Lao Telecom networks below. The prices mentioned are for your reference and are subject to change.

CompanyPlaceValidityPlan DescriptionCost
UnitelAirport7 Days13 GB + 15 mins call50000 KIP or 2 USD or 100 THB
15 Days30 GB + 30 mins call60000 KIP or 3 USD or 140 THB
30 Days65 GB + 45 mins call180000 KIP or 10 USD or 360 THB
Local Shop/ Tourist Agency7 Days15 GB120000 KIP
15 Days30 GB150000 KIP
30 Days50 GB/ 70 GB230000 KIP/ 250000 KIP
Lao TelecomAirport10 Days15 GB80000 KIP
Unlimited150000 KIP
15 Days30 GB140000 KIP
Unlimited180000 KIP
30 Days40 GB/ 60 GB200000 KIP/ 230000 KIP
Unlimited250000 KIP
Authorized Center & Online7 Days7 GB250000 KIP
30 Days15 GB/ 90 GB40000 KIP/ 100000 KIP

Which One To Buy?

Unitel - The best SIM card in Laos

We would rate Unitel as your best best. It has excellent coverage, except for some areas in the far northern region of Laos. You can expect intermittent signals while in North Laos. 

This is followed by Lao Telecom, the internet speed in this network is not that great, but you would be able to get good signal coverage over the entirety of Laos. 

Where To Buy The SIM Card?

At The Airport

You can get your SIM card from the Wattay International Airport in the capital city of Vientiane or the Luang Prabang International Airport. Locating the shops is easy, as they are located right near the exit. The price of the SIM purchased in the airport is usually on the higher side. However, if you wish to be connected right after landing, you can definitely get it here. 

Though you can pay USD, THB, and Lao KIP, it is generally better to buy anything you need using the local currency, as the conversion rates are not favorable.

Official Retail Stores

Our favorite way of purchasing a SIM card, which is the easiest and cheapest, is to get it at official retail outlets. Though language might be a challenge, you can understand enough, and they will help you with the SIM activation process. Click the link to see the stores’ locations: LaoTelecom and Unitel.

Tourist Agencies/ Shop Vendors

Several shops sell SIM cards in Laos. Any shop you can spot with the Unitel or Lao Telecom logo will sell SIM cards or serve as recharge stations. However, keep in mind that they are the company’s own outlets, and therefore, not entirely reliable regarding the price. The shopkeepers quote a much higher rate here, and certain shops do not even ask to validate your ID for verification. 

Land Border Crossing Immigration Office

You can also purchase your SIM card outside the immigration office when crossing the border for neighboring countries like Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. While crossing the Cambodia-Laos border, we spotted a person selling Unitel SIM cards on the border. 

How To Activate The SIM Card?

Any SIM cards bought in Laos will be assisted by the person selling them to you. All it takes is a few minutes, after which it will be activated, and you can leave. You do not have to worry about activating it all by yourself.

How To Recharge or Top Up?

Our suggestion is that you do it online or visit the official store. The website can be translated into different languages, including English. Alternatively, you can download the M Services App (Play Store, App Store) for Lao Telecom and Lao App (Play Store, App Store) or MyUnitel (Play Store, App Store) for Unitel.

The shops with the telecommunication network logos also offer this service, but it is usually quite pricey and unreliable. 

Self Service Numbers

Self-service numbers are useful for emergencies, such as when you can’t connect to the Internet or need to check your balance.

For Unitel,

  • To check your balance, press *122# and call
  • To check the internet package, press *209# and call

Lao Telecom,

  • To check activation or to activate: press *121*# and call
  • To check Balance : *122*# and call
  • To check the remaining data: press *123*# and call

How Is The Internet Speed? Is 5G Available In Laos?

Internet speed is typically good in villages, towns, and cities but may be inconsistent or unavailable during travel. In Laos, cities have 4G and 4.5G networks, but there’s no 5G yet.

Helpful Tips

  • To dial local mobile calls, add 020 in the front. Add 030 if it is a normal telephone.
  • Download your network provider’s designated mobile app to the app to check your current plan’s details or recharge online.
  • Generally, the telephone number of the purchased SIM cards in Laos starts with +856, followed by 9 digits.
  • The plug adapter has two vertical pins (Type A) and two round pins (Type C, E, & F) for charging your device.

If you’ve found this blog helpful, drop a comment down below! 

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