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4 Best Prepaid SIM Cards in Laos: Buying Guide

Laos is a tourist-friendly destination for those who want to experience beautiful nature or love temples. Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, and Pakse are popular destinations for a reason.

What is not popular, however, are expensive roaming charges. Roaming with your provider can be expensive, which is why you would want to buy a Laos SIM card to save on mobile costs. In this article, I will go through everything you need to know about SIM cards in Laos. Let's go

Telecom Providers in Laos

Laos has 4 telecom providers: Unitel, Lao Telecom, TPlus (Beeline), and ETL. Unitel is the largest provider with close to 3 million subscribers. Lao Telecom has more than 1 million subscribers. Beeline has around 300 000 thousand customers. The numbers of ETL is not available at the moment.

What SIM card should you buy when visiting Laos? If you want to buy a SIM card in Laos, I would recommend going with Unitel because they cover most of Laos and is the fastest provider in Laos. However, speeds and coverage can vary greatly depending on the province you are, which is why many locals have SIM cards of multiple operators so that they can stay connected at all times.

In Laos, all providers are fully or partially owned by the Lao government. As a result, rates are almost the same among the providers. Moreover, unlike most Southeast Asian countries, you do not need to show your passport when buying a SIM card.

Data speeds are slow in Laos. With most providers, in excellent conditions, you can get up to 5 Mbps. It is fast enough to do most things with your phone but is embarrassingly slow compared to providers in other Southeast Asian countries, like Singapore.

Let’s see what Laos has to offer to us.

Unitel (StarPhone)

Unitel Logo

Unitel is the largest provider in Laos, as established in the introduction. It is also the provider that suffers from the most congestion in the cities, meaning that your speeds or connection can be subpar at times. Unitel claims that it covers 97% of the population, and 4G/LTE can be found in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Champasak, Savannakhet, and other major towns and provinces.

Do note that you need to buy a 4G SIM card if you want to use Unitel’s 4G network, as they sell 3G SIM cards that, as the name implies, only works on their 3G network (and 2G too).

Unitel SIM cards are sold for 10 000 LAK ($1.60) and come with 5000 LAK in credit and 200 MB. You can choose to register yourself to get another 10000 LAK. Not sure if that would be worth it, though.

The following Unitel data packs are available:

  • 2000 LAK: 60 MB for 24 hours
  • 5000 LAK: 125 MB for 24 hours
  • 10 000 LAK: 270 MB for 30 days
  • 15 000 LAK: 1.5 GB for 30 days
  • 100 000 LAK: 3 GB for 30 days
  • 120 000 LAK: 4 GB for 30 days

You can also buy Unitel’s data-only SIM card called Net SIM for 10 000 LAK at Unitel offices – it comes with 300 MB and allows you to SMS as well. No calls can be made with this SIM card. You can register yourself and get 300 MB for free. A handful of Unitel data-only packs are listed below:

  • 10 000 LAK: 6 GB for 2 days
  • 10 000 LAK: 5 GB for 3 days
  • 10 000 LAK: 2 GB for 5 days
  • 10 000 LAK: 1.5 GB for 7 days
  • 50 000 LAK:  5 GB for 30 days
  • 120 000 LAK: 12 GB for 30 days

Note: the 4 times 10 000 LAK pricing is not a mistake. I thought so too when I was updating this article, but it is correct.

Do note that the 30-day plan expires at the end of the current month. If you start your plan on the 15th of November, for example, then your plan will expire on the 1st of December, 12 AM. Luckily, you do not have to pay the full price if you buy the plan in the middle of the month. In this example, you would pay 50% and get 50% of the listed data allowance.

Lao Telecom (LTC/LaoTel)

Lao Telecom Logo

Lao Telecom is the second largest provider and offers 3G access in most provinces in Laos. They also offer 4G/LTE in Vientiane and some other cities. Lao Telecom’s SIM cards, called M phone, are sold for 5000 LAK and can be used for both 3G and 4G/LTE – you do not need to buy a 4G SIM card to use 4G/LTE.

Below are the M phone data packs:

  • 5000 LAK: 125 MB for 24 hours
  • 10 000 LAK: 250 MB for 30 days
  • 50 000 LAK: 1.25 GB for 30 days
  • 100 000 LAK: 2.5 GB for 30 days

You can also buy a Lao Telecom data-only SIM card called SIM Net for 10000 LAK. The following packages can be used for 3G and 4G/LTE access:

  • 5000 LAK: 1 GB for 24 hours
  • 10 000 LAK: 1.5 GB for 7 days
  • 50 000 LAK: 7 GB for 30 days

You can also get one of their “unlimited” packs, which get throttled to 512 Kbps after using your allowance. They are, however, expensive, and 512 kbps is slow:

  • 150 000 LAK: 15 GB for 30 days
  • 250 000 LAK: 30 GB for 30 days
  • 50 000 LAK: Extra 5 GB of high-speed data

TPlus (Beeline)

Tplus Logo

TPlus, previously known as Beeline, is a small player in Laos. Depending on where you are, Beeline can be the fastest provider in the region. Even then, speeds are slow at up to 5 Mbps. TPlus SIM cards can be bought for 10000 LAK and come with 5000 LAK in credit. The following TPLus packages can be added:

  • 1000 LAK: 50 MB for 1 day
  • 6000 LAK: 200 MB for 3 days
  • 10 000 LAK: 500 MB for 7 days
  • 10 000 LAK: 300 MB for 30 days
  • 50 000 LAK: 1.5 GB for 30 days
  • 80 000 LAK: 2 GB for 30 days
  • 100 000 LAK: 3 GB for 30 days

Just like with the other providers, data-only SIM cards called Net SIM can be bought as well. The following TPlus data-only packages are available:

  • 5000 LAK: 2 GB for per day
  • 10 000 LAK: 3 GB for 7 days
  • 50 000 LAK: 10 GB for 30 days

ETL

ETL Logo

ETL, or Enterprise of Communications Laos, has a small 3G network in Laos, which makes them unsuitable for those who want to explore more of Laos instead of solely the capital. SIM cards are sold for 5000 LAK and their data packs, called eNet, can be added, which are listed below:

  • 1000 LAK: 240 MB for 1 day
  • 5000 LAK: 800 MB for 1 day
  • 10 000 LAK: 1.5 GB for 7 days
  • 50 000 LAK: 5.5 GB for 30 days
  • 100 000 LAK: 12 GB for 30 days
  • 200 000 LAK: 30 GB for 30 days

Looking for unlimited data? ETL sells eNet 2Teen data plans that come with unlimited data for a day for 4000 LAK.

Other Ways to Stay Connected When Traveling in Laos

Being redone.

The Best Way to Stay Connected When Traveling in Laos

Getting a SIM card from Unitel would do you well when considering a Laos SIM card.

Local Prepaid SIM Card in Other Asian Countries

Visiting other countries in Asia? Check out my SIM card buying guides for individual Asian countries:

Going to other places around the world? Then you should also check out my sim card buying guides for other destinations around the world.

Next Steps to Enhance Your Travel Experiences

Looking for the next steps to enhance your phone travel experiences? Here is what to do:

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