Laos has bypassed the need to upgrade the land-line system by investing heavily in the cellphone network. There are a number of operators and you can buy a local SIM card for $5. Recharge cards are also cheap and widely available. There are a number of providers. Laotel and ETL Mobile have the best coverage. Tigo has agreements with over 100 International phone networks. They also have a low-cost international rate of 2,000 kip per minute to many countries, if you buy their SIM card and dial "177" instead of "+." Their coverage is still said to be poor away from larger towns. ETL Mobile (www.etllao.com) is known to have better coverage in rural and remote parts of Laos. However, in Laos "better" certainly does not mean "everywhere."
Telephone Dialing at a Glance
- To place a call from your home country to Laos: Dial the international access code (011 in the U.S. and Canada, 0011 in Australia, 0170 in New Zealand, 00 in the U.K.), plus Laos's country code (856), the city or local area code (21 for Vientiane, 71 for Luang Prabang), and the phone number (for example, 011 856 21 000-000). Important note: Omit the initial "0" in all Laos phone numbers when calling from abroad.
- To place a call within Laos: Dial the city or area code preceded by a 0 (the way numbers are listed in this book), and then the local number (for example, 021 000-000).
- To place a direct international call from Laos: Dial the international access code (00), plus the country code, the area or city code, and the number (for example, to call the U.S., you'd dial 00 1 000/000-0000).
- International country codes are as follows: Australia, 61; Cambodia, 855; Canada, 1; Hong Kong, 852; Indonesia, 62; Malaysia, 60; Myanmar, 95; New Zealand, 64; the Philippines, 63; Singapore, 65; Thailand, 66; U.K., 44; U.S., 1; Vietnam, 84.
Internet & E-Mail
There are Internet cafes in every town of any size at all. Prices vary between 100 kip and 300 kip a minute. Connections are usually fairly slow. Computers are often badly maintained and riddled with viruses, so beware if you are using a thumb drive to transfer information to your own machine. Wi-Fi is becoming more and more common in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, where many hotels and restaurants are hooked up. You can also use a Thai DTAC SIM card to connect to the Net in Vientiane and Savannakhet through GPRS.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.