- Travel Tips
- Travel by air
Travel by air is one of the most convenient means transportation within Laos. Laos Aviation flies daily from Vientiane to Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, Xieng Khouang, Pakse and Oudomsay. And there are some flights in a week to Laung Namtha, Sayabori, Houeixay, Sam Neua, Saravane, Lakxao, Muangkhong and attapue.
However, there are no direct flights from the USA or Europe; flights are mainly via Bangkok, China, Vietnam or Cambodia.
The national airline of Laos is Lao Airlines (QV) www.laoairlines.com. The latest information aboat flight schedules and routes is avaible at the Laos viation Head office in 2 Phangkham road, Vientiane.
Travel by road
Laos has 18,135 km national road, 2,55km of which are paved. The important road is route No.13 linking, which runs north south from China to Cambodia. It links Pak Mong and pass through major urban areas of Luang Prabang, Vientiane, Savannakhet, Champassack. Beisdes, there are the road No.1 linked between Thailand and China, No.8 and No.9 lined between Thailand and Vietnam. Traffic drives on the right. Many of the roads have been paved in recent years, including the main highway from the Thai border at Savannakhet to the Vietnamese border. However, few main roads are suitable for all-weather or night driving. In the north of the country, there is a road link between Vientiane and Luang Prabang, and from Vientiane to Savannakhet and Pakse in the south.
Bus: Services are in all major towns and cities. Buses can vary from air-conditioned to the more traditional type without airconditioner.
Car hire: It is not recommended to hire cars in Laos as driving standards are low. However, it is possible to hire cars with a driver through hotels or tourist agencies.
Travel by boat
The Mekong River meanders through 1,865 km in Laos. The Mekong and other rivers like Nam Ou, Nam Ngum, Se Don… are vital parts of the country's transport system although the roads are improved. Today, there are a lot of kinds of boats to travel on the rivers, speedboat, slow boat and deluxe boat. A service runs from Luang Prabang to Houayxai, but there is no longer a service between Vientiane and Luang Prabang. The journey upstream from Luang Prabang to Houayxai takes two days, with an overnight stop in Pakbeng, and downstream it takes one day. There are regular jet-boat trips along the river. Boats can also be hired privately.
Get Around Towns and Cities
Most of towns are small and accessible on foot or by bicycle. Motorcycles and bicycles can be hired for the day in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and other places frequented by tourists. There is a mixture of old and metered taxis in Vientiane that can usually be located at Wattay Airport, the Friendship Bridge and the Morning market. Taxi can also be hired for approximately US$20 per day. Converted motorcycles, known as tuk-tuks or jumbos, are available in all major towns and cities and are perfect for shorter journeys around town. Bargaining is expected.
- Culture Tips
The Lao word for hello is ‘Sa Bai Dee”, usually said with a smile. Touching or showing affection in public will embarrass them.
Head: Sixty percent of Lao are Theravada Buddhists and religious beliefs should be respected in Laos. Lao people should not be touched on the head and women should not touch monks. Handshaking is not that usual;
Lao people greet each other with their palms together and a slight bowing of the head.
Feet: The feet are viewed as spiritually the lowest part of the body and you should not do anything except walk with them.
Body: Take your shoes off before entering buildings, temples and local homes. Don't sit on cushions. Despite sitting on floors being hard for westerners, these are not meant to be sat on and doing so will result in great offence. When calling someone over, motion with your hand down. If you motion with your hand up it can have sexual connotations. Lao do not appreciate showing off skin. While you will be hot in Laos, it's important to keep covered up. Wearing a proper t-shirt (covered shoulders), longer shorts and pants when visiting temples will win you a lot of fans and ensure you don't offend.
Photos: Before taking photos, you should always ask permission, especially of rural communities. Some hilltribe groups are suspicious of photos and don't like them taken.
Please help to keep Laos clean and beautiful by not leaving rubbish. Picking up rubbish sets a good example for Lao youth.
The illegal sale of wildlife and wildlife products endangers many species native to Laos. Please help protect Lao wildlife by refusing to buy wildlife products.
Please help prevent of forest fires.
Laos loses a little of its heritage every time an antique is taken out of the country. Please do not buy antique Buddha or other sacred items. Instead, support local craftsmen by purchasing new, quality handicrafts.
Take care when discussing politics and related subjects in conversation so as not to cause offence.
It is a legal requirement to carry an ID document or a passport, and fines for not having one for presentation on demand can be high.
The Lao government prohibits sexual relationships, including sexual contact between foreign citizens and Lao nationals, except when the two parties have been married in accordance with Lao family law. Penalties for failing to register a relationship range from fines to imprisonment.
- Laos Embassies
- Below please find a list of Laos Embassy located worldwide:
1 Dalman Crescent, O' Malley
Canberra, A.C.T. 2606
Tel: (+661 6) 2864595, 06-2866933
Fax: (+661 6) 2901910
7 Ave. Calle 36 A
505 Miramar, La Havana
Tel: (+53 7) 33105-57, 331058
Am Lessing 6
53639 Konigswinter 1
Bonn, Tel: 02223-23925
Jalan Kintamani Raya C15 No33
Kuningan Timur, Jarkata 12950
Tel: (+62 22) 5202673, 5229602
Fax: (+62 22) 5229601
108 Jalan Damai, 55000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: (+60 3) 248 3895, 242 0344
Fax: (+60 3) 242 0344
P.O. Box: 1030
Ulan Bator, Tel: (+976 1) 326440, 329898
11 San Litun Dongsi Jie
Tel: (+86 1) 5321224
Fax: (+86 1) 5326748
PR China (General Consulate)
Room 3226 Canellia Hotel
154 East Dong Feng Road
Tel: (+86 871) 3176623-24
Fax: (+86 871) 3178556
520, 502/13 Soi Ramkhamhaeng 39
Bangkapi, Bangkok 10300
Tel: (+66 2) 5396667-69
Fax: (+66 2) 5396678
Consulate General in Khonkean
19/1-3 Phothisarn Road, Khonkaen
Tel: (+043) 223473, 223698
22 Rue Tran Binh Trong, Hanoi
Tel: (84 4) 254576, 296746
Fax: (84 4) 228414
Laos General Consulate in Ho Chi Minh
181 Hai Ba Trung, Ho Chi Minh City
Tel: (+84 8) 299275, 297667
Fax: (+84 8) 299272
Laos General Consulate in Danang
12 Tran Quy Cap
Tel: (+84 51) 21208, 24101
Fax: (+84 51) 2262
1517 Thanon Keomani
P.O. Box 19, Phnom Penh
Tel: (+855 23) 26441, 24781
Fax: (+855 23) 27454
74 Avenue Raymond-Poincare
Tel: (+33 1) 4553 0298, 4554 7047
Fax: (+33 1) 4727 5789
E53 Panchsheet Park
New Dehli 17
Tel: (+91 11) 642 7447
Fax: (+91 11) 642 8588
3322 Nishi Azabu, Minato-Ku
Tel: (+81 3) 5411 2291, 5411 2292
Fax: (+81 3) 5411 2293
NA 1 Diplomatic quarters
Franser Road, Rangon
Tel: (+95 1) 22482, 27445
Fax: (+95 1) 27446
U1. Rejtana 15/2602516 Warsaw
Tel: (+48 22) 484786, 488949
Fax: (+48 22) 497122
Telex: 813593 BTXCB PL
U1. Karchalova 18
Tel: (+7 095) 2031454, 2916966
Fax: (+7 095) 2904246
Telex: 413101 AMLAO SU
Hornsgata 82 B1 TR 11721
Tel: (+46 8) 6685122
Fax: (+46 8) 6692176
2222 S Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel: (+1 202) 3326416-17
Fax: (+1 202) 3324923
Permanent Mission United States
317 East 51 Street
New York, 10022
Tel: (+1 212) 8322734
Fax: (+1 212) 7500039
- All visitors to Laos require visa except Japanese and ASEAN visitors. According to agreements made since 2005, citizens of ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) should be given free entry for 15 days.
A tourist visa, business visa and any others visa are available from Laos Embassy in your country or the country nearest to you. Alternatively, you also can get a visa on arrival for 30 days at most border crossing and ports entry.
If there is no Lao Embassy or consular office in your country, such as the United Kingdom and Paris is the closest to come, then unless you're from one of the excluded countries, just arrive at the Lao border with US$35 and a photo, and get a Visa On Arrival (VOA). Click here to see, save or print out the Lao Arrival Visa Form.
If you want to save time and worry-free when arriving in Laos, then it's better to get visa before you start your trips.
If for any reasons you do not have enough time to get visa then do not bother. You can get a visa on arrival at the port entry in Laos but make sure you have passport size photos, US dollars or Thai Bath ready for application and visa fee.
Besides, your passport will valid at least 6 month's validity remaining. If you are holding passports with less than 6 month's validity you will be refused entry into Laos.
You are reminded to check your passport, when entering and leaving Laos, to ensure they have received a correctly dated entry and exit stamp. Penalties can be applied for entering Laos without an entry stamp and for crossing the border at non authorized crossing points.
Visa on arrival Prices
In case you arrive in Laos without visa, you should apply for a 30 days visa on arrival at all ports of entry in Laos, including the most popular three international airports of the cities Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Pakse. You need two passport size photographs and pay visa's fee.
The cost of Laos visa on arrival is varied depend on what country you come from. You can view the price list is on display at the visa application window.
There are a few samples of visa cost, if you are from USA, UK and European the fees are $US35.00, Canada $US42.00, Sweden $US31.00, Australia and other countries is $US30.00. All visa's fees are payable in US dollars, you can also pay in Thai bath but it will cost you more. For full detail please check each port of entry.
Extending a Laos visa
In case you need to stay longer in Laos you can extend your visa by submitting an application through a tour agency or Lao's Immigration Office (http://www.immigration.gov.la/) in Vientiane. You should apply to extend your visa before the expire date. Foreigners who overstay in Laos will be fined $5 for each day of overstay before leaving the country.
A tourist visa is usually issued for a single entry for a period of 30 days and multiple entry visas are available from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Address Thanon That Luang, Ban Nongbone, Muang Saysettha, Vientiane, Laos and telephone 856 0 21 414002). All others visa or immigration related inquiry should be directed towards your local Laos Embassy or consulate near you.
Besides, you can also obtain your Lao Visa in USA through Visa HQ in advance from Visa HQ, or from a Lao Embassy in your country.
The official language is Lao. Other languages used are French, English. Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese.
Local currency is called Kip. One USD is worth approximately 2,450 kip (1998). Money can be exchanged at banks, authorized shops, or hotels. Exchange rates fluctuate everyday, though fluctuation is tiny.
Thai Baht and US Dollars are the easiest currencies to exchange. They are also widely accepted in shops, markets and hotels in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.
Lao Kip (LAK; symbol ₭) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of ₭50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1.
The time in Laos is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +7).
Most of the year is hot and humid. Laos enjoys tropical climate with two distinct seasons. The rainy season is from the beginning of May to the end of September, and the dry season is from October through April. The yearly average temperature is about 28 degrees Celsius, rising to a maximum of 38 degrees Celsius during April and May.
In Vientiane a minimum temperature of 19 degrees Celsius is to be expected during January. In mountainous areas, however, temperature drops from 14 to 15 degrees Celsius during the winter months, and during cold nights, can easily reach the freezing point. The average precipitation is highest in Southern Laos, where the Annamite Mountains receive over 3,000 mm. annually. In Vientiane rainfall is about 1,500-2,000 mm., and in the Northern provinces only 1,000-1,500 mm.
Sticky rice (best eaten with fingers).
Pho (white rice noodle soup, usually served with beef and/or pork although vegetarian versions are available).
Laap (minced meat, fish or vegetables tossed in lime juice, garlic, onions, powdered rice and chillies, accompanied by sticky rice).
Tam maal hung (Lao-style papaya salad).
Khai phaan (weed from the Mekong River - a Luang Prabang specialty).
Lao lao (rice whisky) is popular and there are two brands available.