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Check out our guide to finding the best prepaid SIM card in Laos

Reduce your roaming rates by using a local SIM card.

Updated

Fact checked

If you’re planning a trip to Laos, a top tip for keeping down costs is to switch to a local SIM card. Take advantage of better tariffs, plans and deals to reduce your roaming rates. Laos has some good SIM card options, but the coverage can sometimes be questionable. You can get 1GB of data from the top telco provider in Laos for just LAK5,000 (CAD0.80). So, whether you’re a short-term visitor or long-term traveler, you can save money by comparing your SIM card options on finder.com/ca.

Details Features
Flexiroam X International SIM Card
Flexiroam X International SIM Card
If you're planning a trip that includes multiple countries, attaching flexiroam X can be much cheaper than roaming with your existing mobile number or buying a new SIM in each location.
  • Over 100 countries
  • Three different starter pack options
  • Data options from 1 to 5 GB
  • Shipment takes 3 to 5 days
  • Pay as you go plans
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Prices last updated 4 Sep 2017
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Telco providers in Laos

There are four main telco providers in Laos: Unitel, Laotel, Beeline and ETL. Locals and travelers use SIM cards from all four networks, and they can be trusted whatever plan you choose. According to OpenSignal’s coverage map, the signal can vary between providers depending on what province you are situated. All four networks tend to have stronger network coverage around the main towns and cities. It’s advisable to carry several different SIM cards (cheap to purchase) especially for the northern provinces.

About the Laos telco providers

All four telco operators are partially or fully-owned by the government. Voice and data rates are similar and within agreed price caps, to encourage lower prices. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers. A starter pack costs around LAK5,000, and comes with preloaded credit. There’s no ID needed when purchasing a SIM card. Credit can also be purchased from official stores, approved resellers or at supermarkets right across the country. Below, we have broken down each telco provider and highlighted exactly what they can offer you during your visit to Laos.

Unitel (StarPhone)

Unitel (or StarPhone) is the largest provider in the country with the best overall coverage. It offers customers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE services and the prices and packages are relatively good compared to other providers. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for LAK10,000, which comes with LAK5,000 credit. Once you have registered your personal information to activate the SIM card, a further LAK10,000 credit will be activated on the phone.

The standard default data rate is charged at LAK800 per MB on 2G and 3G, and LAK300 per MB on 4G. The following data packs are also available by dialing the appropriate code in the right-hand column.

2G and 3G:
Until midnight Unlimited data LAK10,000 *209*6#
24 hours 25MB LAK1,000 *209*1#
60MB LAK2,000 *209*2#
125MB LAK 5,000 *209*3#
30 days 270MB LAK 10,000 *209*4#
1.5GB LAK 50,000 *209*7#
3GB LAK 100,000 *209*8#
Unlimited data LAK 120,000 *209*9#
4G/LTE:
24 hours 150MB LAK 5,000 *299*5#
7 days 450MB LAK 15,000 *299*15#
30 days 1.3GB LAK 50,000 *299*50#
3.5GB LAK 120,000 *299*120#
40GB LAK 1,000,000 *299*1000#

Packs automatically renew unless cancelled. Dial *209*01# to cancel 2G and 3G plans . Dial *299*0# to cancel 4G/LTE options.

There’s also a data-only SIM card available called Sim Net, which can be purchased for LAK10,000 and comes with 300MB of data. Once you register your personal information with the provider you will receive an extra 300MB data. The following packs can be added by dialing the code in the right-hand column:

2G and 3G:
24 hours 1GB LAK5,000 *209*21#
5 days 2GB LAK10,000 *209*22#
7 days 1.5MB LAK10,000 *209*23#
30 days 5.12GB LAK50,000 *209*24#
12.888GB LAK120,000 *209*25#
Unlimited LAK230,000 *209*26#
4G/LTE:
30 days 5GB LAK50,000 *299*4*50#
12GB LAK100,000 *299*4*100#
120GB LAK900,000 *299*4*900#

Packs auto-renew unless cancelled, so dial *209*01# to cancel 2G and 3G plans. Dial *299*4*0# to cancel 4G/LTE packages.

Unitel’s APN: unitel3g, and website:http://unitel.com.la

Lao Telecom (LaoTel)

LaoTel is the second largest provider in the country with good overall coverage. It offers customers 3G and 4G/LTE services and the prices and packages are relatively good. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for LAK5,000, which comes with LAK5,000 credit. The standard default data rate is charged at LAK300 perMB. Lao Telecom also offers good Wi-Fi hotspots in Vientiane and other key areas.

Voice and data SIM cards are also available for LAK5,000 and come with varying options, so check with the retailer at time of purchase. The following packs can also be added by dialing the relevant code:

24 hours 25MB LAK1,000 *118*5#
125MB LAK5,000 *118*1#
30 days 250MB LAK10,000 *118*2#
1.25GB LAK50,000 *118*3#
2.5GB LAK100,000 *118*4#

Dial *123# to check data usage.

Lao Telecom also has a SIM Net data-only SIM card which can be purchased for LAK30,000, or LAK40,000 for a Micro SIM. The following packs can be added:

24 hours 1GB LAK5,000 *131*5#
7 days 1.5GB LAK10,000 *131*10#
30 days 5GB LAK50,000 *131*6#
30 days 15GB LAK150,000 *131*11#
30 days 30GB LAK250,000 *131*12#
Add-on 5GB LAK50,000 *131*21#

Lao Tel’s APN: ltcnet, and website:http://www.laotel.com

Beeline

Beeline has the third largest market share in Laos, but offers the fastest speeds. There is a 4G/LTE network in the pipeline, however, their 3G service is good. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores or approved resellers and so can credit, which can also be purchased at supermarkets or corner stores. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for LAK10,000, which comes with LAK5,000 credit. The following packs can also be added by texting the relevant activation code to 234.

1 day 25MB LAK1,000 D0
50MB LAK2,500 D1
100MB LAK4,000 D2
7 days 250MB LAK10,000 W1
30 days 1229MB LAK49,000 M1
2048MB LAK80,000 M2

There is also a data-only SIM card available. The following packs can be added:

  • Unlimited Internet for one calendar day: LAK6,500. Text code: AD1 to 234
  • Unlimited Internet for a month: LAK150,000. Text code: AM1 to 234
  • 1.2GB per day: LAK5,000. Overuse is charged at LAK300 perMB. Text code: BD1 to 234

Beeline’s APN: beelinenet, and website:http://www.beeline.la

ETL

ETL is the smallest provider and has the worst coverage out of all four networks. Their 3G platform is extremely limited and they can’t offer a 4G/LTE platform yet. Prepaid SIM cards can be purchased from official stores and approved resellers, and credit can also be picked up from supermarkets and corner stores.

The standard default data rate is charged at LAK300 perMB. The following “eNet” packages can also be added:

eN1 1 day 240MB LAK1,000
eN5 1 day 800MB LAK5,000
eN10 7 days 1.5GB LAK10,000
eN50 30 days 5.5GB LAK50,000
eN100 30 days 12GB LAK100,000
eN200 30 days 30GB LAK200,000
eN250 30 days unlimited LAK250,000

Text the relevant eN code to 333 to activate.

ETL’s APN: etlnet, and website:http://www.etllao.com

Some top tips from finder.com staff:

  • Lao is the language spoken in Laos. It’s unique to the locals, so if you aren’t familiar with Lao you may want to download Google Translate onto your phone before you travel. However, because tourism is so popular, English is also widely spoken.
  • Locals call a SIM card a “Chip” or “SIM”.
  • Ask the sellers to set up the SIM for you, since they will know how to do it. If not, follow the instructions we have highlighted above or go to the official operator website to seek advice.
  • Get to the shops early to receive better assistance and to avoid the crowds.

TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them

While it’s well known for reviews, booking hotels, flights and holidays, TripAdvisor also has many user comments that can help guide you through the SIM cards that have been tried and tested in Laos.

Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:

We were in Laos last january and we purchased an ETL SIM card. It cost us LAK10.000 and was very cheap to call Europe (France) and to top up ( and so easy). We had no coverage problem and we called north to south, absolutely perfect.

“We found that cell phone coverage was fine in Vientiane; our phones immediately connected with the network in Thailand across the river.

You will be able to buy SIM cards at nearly every shop. If needed for Nano sim cards they will cut it accordingly.

Just buy a cheap ‘dumb’ phone at home to have as your permanent 2nd travel phone. I put my home SIM in my dumb phone when travelling to receive calls and a local SIM in my smartphone for local calls and more importantly data for maps, navigation, email and social networking.

Pros and cons of top Laos telco providers

All networks require you to have a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible phone. To double check you have this phone, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Prepaid credit when required
  • No in-store contract needed
  • Could be compatible with your current phone

Cons:

  • Some areas can suffer from bad coverage
  • No phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
  • Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones

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