Laos Travel Tips
Laos is one of Southeast Asia’s least developed and least populated countries. The mighty Mekong River is at its heart, and flows through most of the major towns and cities you will visit. A strong Buddhist culture pervades, and the sight of glittering golden temples and monks collecting alms add to the country’s beauty, serenity and undeniable allure.
Tourism in Laos is somewhat developed and there are luxury lodgings and wonderful eateries, yet patience is still required and the pace or style of service may be different to what you are used to. It is important to remain calm in any dealings with Lao people, as displays of anger are rare and frowned upon in Lao culture. If you have already booked your trip to Laos click here to download our pre-departure guide.
Health & fitness
Travelers to Laos should take care with their health and safety as they would in other Asian destinations. Medical facilities are sparse in Laos, and even in the capital, Vientiane, are minimal. For serious medical conditions, a transfer to Bangkok is needed. If traveling outside the major centers, it is preferable to visit a private clinic rather than a government-run hospital should you require medical attention.
Diseases that can be found in Laos include typhoid, tuberculosis, hepatitis A and B, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, diphtheria, polio, tetanus, rabies and HIV/AIDS. We advise that you take relevant precautions to avoid exposure to these and other health risks. It is advisable to see your doctor at least one month before leaving the United States or Canada for current health advice.
Citizens of the US, Australia, UK, EU Countries, New Zealand and Canada must possess a visa to visit Laos. All other nationalities should check with the Laotian embassy or consulate in their home country. Travelers can easily obtain a 30 day tourist visa upon arrival in Laos, at the airports in Vientiane, Pakse or Luang Prabang, or at most overland border crossings.
The cost of a Lao visa varies according to nationality and is 35 USD for holders of USA and UK passports, 30 USD for holders of Australian and New Zealand passports, and 42 USD for holders of Canadian passports. All travelers require USD cash to pay for their visa, and a passport photo must be provided. On weekends and public vacations an extra 1 USD is charged per visa.
Please note Laotian visa requirements are subject to change and it is your responsibility to research your visa requirements prior to travel. We strongly suggest that you check with the relevant embassies in your country of residence for current visa regulations.
It is being reported that on Saturday morning 17 May in the remote northeast of Laos, a military aircraft crashed. It is not clear how many people survived the crash. All people on board were members or associates of government, or plane crew. The plane was an aged Antonov Russian military AN74-300. more info
Safety & security
Laos is a relatively safe country to visit, however the usual common sense safety precautions apply. The cities are small, and easy and safe to navigate on foot. The streets are generally quiet after 9pm as most Lao people go to bed early, and there are local laws ensuring businesses close by midnight.
It is important to watch your step on the streets as they can be marked by potholes and uneven surfaces. It is advisable to wear minimal jewelry and to keep cash secure to your body. A hotel address card should be carried in order to show drivers to navigate your way back.
During your time in Laos, it is recommended you keep copies of your passport, credit card details and airline tickets in a secure place apart from the original documents. Wherever possible, leave valuables in your hotel’s safety deposit boxes. Read our safety guidelines for further information.
Laos is small landlocked and sparsely populated country in the Indochinese peninsula. Laos covers 236.800 square kilometers. It shares borders with china, Vietnam ,Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. It is 236,800 sq km in land area and 5 million in population. Comprising of 68 ethnic and classified into tree groups. Lao Theung (upland), Lao Soung (hill tribes) and Lao Lum (low land).
The major part of the country being mountainous and forested.
Buddhism plays an important role in the life of the Lao people and has given them a deserved reputation for friendliness, gentleness, kindness, gaiety and wisdom.
Tropical climate with two distinct seasons. The rainy season from May to September and dry season from October to April. The best season to travel in Laos is from October to March (18c–.25c).
The official language is Lao. The Lao language is monosyllabic and tonal. The polysyllabic words are occasionally meets particularly in literary writing are of Sanskrit of Pali origins. English and French are widely spoken, but it is very helpful, it one develops some knowledge to the Lao language.
Religion and Culture
Most of Lao people are Buddhism. Buddhism was introduced since 14th century. Laos has a great variety of well preserved architecture and culture monuments.
Getting to & away Laos
. By flight Bangkok, Hanoi, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Kun Ming and Chiang Mai.
. By land at the borders: Boten, Houixay, Vientiane / the bridge, Thakhek, Savannakhet, Lao Bao, Lak Sao and ChongMeck.
Visa can be obtained at LAO EMBASSY with the assistance of Discovery Indochina Co.,Ltd tour or up on arrival. Visa up on arrival USD 30 per person
The tourism in Laos is basically the culture, the nature, the history and archeological sites.
VIENTIANE is the capital with colonial houses, interesting Museums and beautiful temples: Wat PraKeo, Wat Sisaket, ThatLuang and the other important temples. We also highly recommend the visit to the provinces like VANG VIENG, KAMMOUANE, LAXSAO AND SAVANNAKHET.
. LUANG PRABANG: the former Royal capital of Laos Lanexang. This city is totally registered as the world heritage by UNESCO in 1995. Visit the Royal Palace, boat trip to Pak OU caves, visit Kuangsi water fall and the traditional villages surrounding.
. XIENG KHOUANG: PLAIN OF JARS 2500.3000 years olds remains a mystery:
. LUANG NAMTHA, OUDOMXAY, PHONGSALI, HOUIXAY:
Beautiful places, mountainous, many minority groups. Preferable for Trekking and overnight in the villages.
PAKSE, CHAMPASSACK: Share the border with Cambodia and Thailand. Visit the Khmer temple of WAT PHOU. Visit the 4000 islands area the big water fall in Asia KHONPAPENG and see the Dolphins of the Mekong.
. SARAVANH . SEKONG. ATTOPEU: The area good for Agriculture, visit the plantation of coffee, Tea, visit the Minority, Boat trip, elephants riding.
Climate and Clothing
Light-weight washable cotton or cotton-blunt clothes are suitable. A sweater or coat is needed for the winter and in upland areas.
Customs and Immigration
A valid transit, tourist visit, business, diplomatic, or service visa is required. All foreigners may enter and depart Laos via Wattay Airport, or Mittaphab Bridge, the Mekong border crossing with Nong Khai, Thailand. A visa can now be obtained upon arrival at the airport and other official entry points. To depart elsewhere, arrangements must be made before your arrival by Inter-Lao Tourism. Joint tours are welcome and can also be organized by Inter-Lao Tourism.
Medical and dental facilities are mostly operated by the government. Private clinics and pharmacies are available in the major cities. The international clinic is operated under the supervision of the Ministry of Health, to accommodate foreigners and diplomats. Medicines from France, the U.S., Russia, Thailand and China are widely available in most pharmacies.
International telephone, fax, telegraph and telex services are available at post offices hotels and business centers. Mobile phones are widely used.
Several radio stations broadcast in Lao. The Lao National Radio carries news in English, French and Thai. There are daily TV broadcasts, with two local channels, Thai television and satellite reception.
Public transportation is by bus, taxi and samlo. There are both metered and unmetered taxi. There are no railroads. Lao Aviation, Thai Airways International, Cambodia and Vietnam Airlines connect Wattay Airport to Bangkok, Yanngon
( Rangoon ), Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Kunming, China. Domestic flights shuttle daily between Lao cities. Mittaphab bridge across the Mekong to Thailand opened in early 1994 .
Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao, Lane Xang Bank and Lao Mai Bank Joint Development Bank, and Thai branch banks. Traveler’s Checks and credit cards can be used at major banks, some hotels, restaurants and shops. INTER-LAO TOURISM accepts VISA cards and American Express and Master cards.
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Major Events and Traditional festival:
January 1 : New Year
April 13-15 : Lao New Year
May 1 : international Labor Day.
End of May: Rocket Festival
October End of Buddhism Lent & Boat Races
November That Luang Festival.
December 2 : National Day