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Laos: 6 Best eSIMs Compared + Discounts (2023)

Laos may not be the most popular travel destination in Asia, but it has become more popular in recent years.

Mostly because it is an affordable country.

What you should not do, in many cases, is roam internationally in Laos.

International roaming can be expensive, which is why using local and travel eSIMs is recommended to save money.

And if you get a travel eSIM, you do not have to deal with the SIM card registration bureaucracy and skip the queues in Laos.

How much will a local or travel eSIM for Laos cost you?

You can get an eSIM for Laos for as little as 9.50 USD, with 1 GB of data for 7 days, up to 47 USD, with 8 GB of data for 30 days, from Unitel Laos, Lao Telecom (LaoTel), Airalo (Pak Ou Mobile) & Holafly.

Those are some generous data allowances, right?

In this guide, I will go over the eSIM options offered by the Lao mobile operators (Unitel Laos & Lao Telecom), Airalo & Holafly. Let's do this.

Buying an eSIM for Laos Guide (logos of Airalo, Holafly, LAO TELECOM, unitel & Pak Ou Mobile)

Original publication: 24th of August 2022. Last updated: 27th of January 2023.

Table of Contents

eSIMs offered by the Lao Mobile Operators

To get the best service available, in terms of reception and speeds, you want to go with the local mobile operators directly instead of with a travel eSIM.

That is because you will have a higher priority on the network in case of network congestion.

However, that does not mean travel eSIMs will always be slow.

In fact, some mobile operators throttle (prepaid) on select plans or all plans for “optimization” reasons (read: we cannot be bothered to invest in our network).

Anyway, which Lao mobile operators offer eSIMs to prepaid customers?

Currently, Unitel Laos and Lao Telecom offer eSIMs to prepaid customers.

You also have other options for getting an eSIM for your trip to Laos: travel eSIMs from Airalo (with Pak Ou Mobile) & Holafly.

Not only can you set up these eSIMs before arriving in Laos and activate them upon landing, but you can also avoid Laos' SIM card registration scheme, which is mandatory for anyone using Lao SIM cards and eSIMs.

While mobile data is already affordable in Laos, getting a travel eSIM will not break the bank – not at all.

Plus, I have plenty of experience with Airalo & Holafly, and I can assure you they work well – and other Phone Travel Wiz readers also had pleasant experiences with them.

Phone Travel Wiz Approved Seal

So let's see what these travel eSIM providers have to offer in Laos, right?

Airalo eSIMs for Laos (Pak Ou Mobile)

Laos Pak Ou Mobile eSIM Airalo
© Airalo

If I could only get a travel eSIM during my trip because I do not have the time or opportunity to buy a local SIM card or eSIM, then I would always get an eSIM from Airalo.

Airalo has eSIMs for around 190 countries, offers eSIMs at the lowest prices (on average compared to the competition) & has good service.

Airalo usually partners with the local mobile operator with the best coverage, the fastest speeds, or both.

And if it needs to partner up with multiple mobile operators, it does so, allowing you to have the best reception at all times.

Anyway, you can get a Pak Ou Mobile eSIM for 9.50 USD, with 1 GB of data.

Especially knowing that the Lao Pak Ou Mobile eSIM uses the ETL Laos network.

ETL Laos Logo
© ETL Laos

The following Lao Pak Ou Mobile eSIM option is available:

  1. Laos/Pak Ou Mobile 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 9.50 USD
Laos Pak Ou Mobile eSIM Airalo (with Prices)

Be aware: you will be restricted to 3G – not 4G/LTE with the Pak Ou Mobile eSIM (unlike most Airalo eSIMs).

Now, you may think this is a sad selection or that 1 GB of data is insufficient.

Both points are true… I agree – but you can make unlimited top-ups with the Pak Ou Mobile eSIM through the Airalo website or apps.

So if you need 5 GB of data, you can purchase the Pak Ou Mobile 1 GB eSIM and get four 1 GB top-ups.

Yes, it is a bit inconvenient for now; Airalo may offer 3 GB, 5 GB & 10 GB plans with a 30-day validity for Laos soon, as it did for many other countries it supports.

The Airalo links will automatically get you the available Phone Travel Wiz exclusive offers – a code is unnecessary.

Airalo Pak Ou Mobile eSIM Pros

Are there any other reasons why you should get the Pak Ou Mobile eSIM for your trip? For sure:

  • You can activate your Pak Ou Mobile eSIM as soon as you land in Laos
  • You get full (up to 3G) access to ETL Laos network
  • Pak Ou Mobile eSIMs are affordable (especially compared to roaming) and have generous data allowances
  • You do not have to worry about SIM card registration with the Pak Ou Mobile eSIM, saving you time
  • Out of data? You can simply top up online on the Airalo website and not worry about language barriers when dealing with local agents

There are many other small pros, but these are the major ones.

It would be disingenuous not to mention some cons, so here we go.

Airalo Pak Ou Mobile eSIM Cons

So, why should you not get the Pak Ou Mobile eSIM?

  • The Lao mobile operators, including ETL Laos itself, have much more generous data allowances
  • While you get access to ETL Laos' network, you will be restricted to 3G – so no 4G/LTE.
  • You cannot call or text with the Pak Ou Mobile eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)

Airalo Pak Ou Mobile eSIM Overall Thoughts

Honestly, the Pak Ou Mobile eSIM is fantastic… if you do not mind the slower speeds.

But speeds in Laos are slow anyway 😩.

You get access to ETL Laos, without standing in queues or dealing with SIM card registration bureaucracy.

And everything, purchasing and topping up, can be done online on the Airalo website or Airalo app (downloading the app is recommended).

The main flaw, for now, is that you have to purchase multiple top-ups if you need more data than just 1 GB.

While getting a top-up is straightforward, some tourists, like myself, prefer to just buy one big data plan so that you do not have to worry about data allowances.

Unfortunately, you cannot call or text with the Pak Ou Mobile eSIM, as it is a data-only eSIM.

But if you do wish to make actual calls, so not through apps like Whatsapp, consider a Unitel Laos & Lao Telecom eSIM or a Lao SIM card (but you will have to deal with the SIM card registration laws).

Holafly eSIMs for Laos

Holafly Logo
© Holafly

The other travel eSIM provider I recommend is Holafly.

I knew they existed when they offered travel SIM cards for the Spanish market only.

Then they pivoted to the global market, still offering travel SIM cards.

Eventually, they started offering travel eSIMs for the Spanish market only again before going global.

There are many travel eSIM providers nowadays – new ones pop up every week like mushrooms, so I did not bat an eye.

Until they did something revolutionary.

In 2022, Holafly started offering unlimited data plans for its eSIMs.

And these unlimited data eSIMs can be used in various Asian countries, almost all European Union member states (except for Liechtenstein) & a few other countries, like Canada and the United States.

Unfortunately, unlimited data eSIMs are not available in Laos… yet.

I say yet because Holafly's goal is to offer unlimited data plans for every country it covers: 100+ countries.

And I can tell you that I get positive emails multiple times a week from Phone Travel Wiz readers that have used the unlimited data plans in East- and Southeast AsiaEurope & North America; they love these eSIMs.

For now, you have only one Holafly Laos eSIM (which uses the Lao Telecom network):

Lao Telecom Laos Logo
© Lao Telecom

Not much choice, as you can see.

Laos eSIMs Holafly

As I recently started my collaboration with Holafly, you can get 5% off each purchase whenever you use code PHONETRAVELWIZ – awesome, right?

Holafly Travel eSIM Reviews by Phone Travel Wiz

Of course, there are some pros and cons with going with Holafly, so let's go over them.

Holafly Laos eSIM Pros

So, why should you get the Holafly eSIMs? Well, because of the following:

  • Holafly Laos eSIMs are affordable compared to roaming
  • You get full (up to 4G/LTE) access to Lao Telecom (LaoTel) network
  • Unlike going with Lao Telecom directly, you do not have to worry about SIM card registration because it is unnecessary
  • You can activate your Holafly Laos eSIM as soon as you land in Laos
  • The Holafly Laos eSIM offers the most data

But it is not all good news with Holafly though – there are some disadvantages.

Holafly Laos eSIM eSIM Cons

So, why should you not get a Holafly Laos eSIM?

  • You cannot call or text with the Holafly Laos eSIM (nor can you receive them – you get no (local) phone number)
  • Lao mobile operators, including Lao Telecom, have much more generous data allowances
  • While you get full (4G/LTE) access to Lao Telecom's network, your speeds may not be as fast as going with Lao Telecom directly because you will be roaming on their networks (and not be a native customer)
  • You cannot top up your Holafly Laos eSIM – you would have to buy another eSIM if you need more data
  • There is no 5G NR access with the Holafly Laos eSIM (yet)

Holafly Laos eSIM Overall Thoughts

While you have only one option for the Holafly Laos eSIM, it is the most generous eSIM (in terms of data) in this guide.

And the price for the Holafly Laos eSIM is low compared to expensive Pay As You Go roaming rates for Laos.

But it still is not cheap.

Best eSIMs for in Asia (not just Laos)

So what if you plan to visit neighboring Cambodia? China? Thailand? Or other countries in East Asia or Southeast Asia?

Unfortunately, you cannot use your Airalo Pak Ou Mobile or Holafly Laos eSIMs in any country than Laos.

However, the two eSIM providers have eSIMs covering several East Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

I highly recommend these Asia/APAC eSIMs if you plan to visit multiple East- and Southeast Asian countries to save money!

Airalo Asialink Asia eSIM

Asialink Asia eSIM Airalo
© Airalo

Airalo recently heavily improved its Asia eSIM, which used to offer a meager 4 GB of high-speed data before allowing for unlimited data at snail speeds, following the popular Eurolink eSIM for 39 European countries.

The Eurolink eSIM is the most popular eSIM for Phone Travel readers, and I have no doubt that the Asialink eSIM will be popular too.

Just like in Europe, many readers tend to visit multiple Asian countries, so they would rather have a travel eSIM covering multiple countries than just one (like Laos).

The Asialink eSIM can be used in the following 14 countries:

  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Laos
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Philippines
  • Singapore 1
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

1 currently, newly bought Asialink eSIMs cannot be used in Singapore. Airalo is working on re-including Singapore in its Asialink offering

Below is an overview of how much each Asialink eSIM costs:

  1. Asia/Asialink 1 GB eSIM for 7 days, costing 5 USD
  2. Asia/Asialink 3 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 13 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  3. Asia/Asialink 5 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 20 USD – most popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  4. Asia/Asialink 10 GB eSIM for 30 days, costing 37 USD – very popular with Phone Travel Wiz readers
  5. Asia/Asialink 50 GB eSIM for 90 days, costing 100 USD
  6. Asia/Asialink 100 GB eSIM for 180 days, costing 185 USD
Asialink Asia eSIM Airalo (with Prices)

Holafly & Nomad eSIMs for Asia

Because of Airalo's previous Asia eSIM, I used to recommend Nomad's APAC eSIMs instead (to be used in 8 countries).

This eSIM can be used in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore & Thailand (1 GB/7 days/15 USD – 20 GB/30 days/69 USD).

APAC eSIMs Nomad
APAC Value Pack eSIMs Nomad

As you can see, this eSIM cannot be used in Laos, so it would be useless here but useful in the aforementioned countries.

The Holafly Asia eSIM has only one variant: 8 GB for 30 days, costing 47 USD/49 EUR/34 GBP.

This eSIM can be used in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand & Vietnam.

Asia eSIMs Holafly

Basically, the same countries as the Airalo Asialink eSIM with just fewer options (1 variant (8 GB) vs. 6 variants (1 GB/3 GB/5 GB/10 GB/50 GB/100 GB)) and much more expensive.

So yeah, the Asialink eSIM is superior, I would say.

Remember, the Airalo links above will automatically offer you the best deals.

Overview of the Best eSIMs for Laos (Airalo vs. Holafly)

In this guide, I went over various eSIMs for Laos: Airalo (Pak Ou Mobile) & Holafly.

Below is an overview of my recommendation order:

  • Airalo's Laos Pak Ou Mobile eSIM (best value for money)
  • Airalo's Asia Asialink eSIM (best value for money when also visiting other East- and Southeast Asian countries)
  • Holafly Laos eSIM (most generous data plan)
  • Holafly Asia eSIM (to be used in 14 countries)

Remember to use code PHONETRAVELWIZ for Holafly eSIMs – a code is not necessary for Airalo eSIM purchases.

Buying a SIM Card in Laos

Want to just use a SIM card but not your current one because roaming will be criminally expensive?

Consider getting a Lao SIM card instead – local SIM cards are the cheapest way to stay connected abroad.

Buying a SIM Card in Laos Guide (logos of Unite, Lao Telecom, ETL & TPlus)

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