Laos

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The absence of coastline and its small population might be the reasons why Laos is routinely overlooked by travelers to Southeast Asia, otherwise attracted by its neighbors’ bustling cities and white sandy beaches. However, this enigmatic and relaxing nation remains one of the best-kept secrets of Asia. Laos’ charmingly unspoilt landscape will make you feel one with nature. Its dramatic mountains, spectacular waterfalls, and shimmering temples are the ideal setting for tranquil exploration and repose.

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Useful Information

Entry & Custom Procedures

Nowadays Laos offers free stays for passport holders of ASEAN countries, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and Switzerland. For most other countries, including European and North American, 30 days visa on arrival is easily obtained in international airports and most border crossings. The Terraverde Team is always ready to check the requirements and help you with the process.

Transportation

By Air

There are four international airports in Laos: Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, Luang Prabang International Airport, Savannakhet International Airport and Pakse International Airport, all conveniently located near the cities' downtown area.

By Road

More than 60% of the total national roads are classified as in poor condition. However, this has been improving in the last few years particularly in and around major cities and tourism attractions.

By Train

Rail transport does not play a significant part in Laos's transport sector, since the country largely lacks the required infrastructure. This is bound to change once the 414 km China-Laos Railway project is completed by the end of 2021.

Currency

The official currency is the Lao Kip (LAK) although US dollars are still accepted. In Vientiane and Luang Prabang you can exchange hard currency relatively easily at licensed exchange shops, or in the banks. At the time of publishing the exchange rate is US$ 1 = 9041 LAK.

Credit cards are normally not accepted outside the better hotels and a select group of shops in Vientiane and Luang Prabang, so make sure you have a supply of cash with you. ATM machines can be found in the capital as well as other cities like Luang Prabang or Pakse (subject to transaction fees).

Language

Lao is the official language and English is increasingly spoken in the tourist hotspots. Laotian is written in the Lao script, derived from the Khmer alphabet, and similar to Thai.

Tipping

Tipping is not customary in Laos, although many restaurant and hotel workers will be appreciative of a small bonus. In restaurants, 10% of the bill will suffice, when a service charge hasn't already been added.

Water

It is advisable not to drink water from the tap unless it is boiled properly.

Telecommunications

Free WIFI is available in many guesthouses, hotels, restaurants and cafes. SIM cards ara availabe at the airports and stores throughout major cities. There are 4 main to providers: Unitel, Laotel, Beeline, and ETL. Unitel has much better 3G coverage with its ability to receive waves even on some remote mountain roads. International call to most countries cost about 2000K to 4000K per minute.

Health & Medical Facilities

No vaccination is required, but visitors are advised to receive inoculations against hepatitis A and B, typhoid and tetanus. Inoculation for yellow fever and tablets for malaria are not necessary although doctors still usually recommend them.

Hospitals and clinics in Laos are among the most basic in Southeast Asia. For minor to moderate conditions, Mahasot Hospital's International Clinic, the Australian Embassy Clinic, and the French Embassy Medical Center in Vientiane have a decent reputation. For life threatening injury it can be necessary to be evacuated to Bangkok or Singapore and we therefore strongly recommend taking out medical travel insurance.

Public Holidays 2020

Jan 1New Year's Day
Jan 20Armed Forces Day
Mar 8International Women's Day
Apr 13-15Lao New Year
May 1Labor Day
Dec 2National Day

Safety

Laos is a relatively safe country for travellers, although certain areas remain off-limits because of unexploded ordnance left over from decades of warfare. We recommend to take the usual precautions when traveling in Laos.

Population

Laos has an estimated population of 7.06 million, the majority of them inhabiting the valleys along the Mekong River. Vientiane is the capital and largest city with 569.000 residents. Laos recognizes some 160 different ethnic groups. Meanwhile, Buddhism remains the predominant religion.

Shopping

Prices displayed are usually fixed, but always remember to bargin when buying things in local markets to make sure you get the best prices.

Local Time

Laos is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. It is the same time zone as Bangkok.

Electricity

In Laos electric current is mostly 220V. Sockets are both round and flat types.

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About Laos

Being majority Buddhist, the Lao people are kind and welcoming. Their laid-back and unhurried lifestyle entices the visitor to let go of the stress of the modern world and unwind in swanky resorts, charming street-side cafes, or a river cruise.  If you like to avoid the crowds then Laos is the perfect choice. Explore the captivating UNESCO city of Luang Prabang, where historic temples, traditional Laotian villas and French colonial buildings dot every corner. For those willing to trade a bit of comfort for some adventure, the northern mountains of Laos offer endless trekking routes, prehistoric sites, and colorful hill tribes.

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When to Visit

Luang PrabangJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min °C13141720232323 2222201713
Max °C273032333332313131302826
Rain mm1620331101612572412991821214012
VientianeJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min °C16182124242525 2424231916
Max °C293235363433323232313029
Rain mm712319023627124433227881124
ChampasakJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Min °C19212426252524 2424232119
Max °C323335363432313131323231
Rain mm81034771912652653202551443410