In all of Laos there is a fusion of contrasting culture. Enjoy a baguette and egg for breakfast and then have Laap Chicken for lunch. We enjoyed the blend of French Culture with Asian tradition. The French used to rule that land and their presence is evident everywhere. To walk into a temple filled with Golden Buddhas one minute and then to be out in the sunshine riding a bicycle on a busy street heading towards a replica (with Buddhist elements) of the Arc du Triomphe is very cool indeed. This Laos travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Fast Facts about Laos Travel
- Laotian power voltage is 220 V 50 Hz; Power sockets A, B & C.
- Laotian currency is the Laotian Kip (LAK) and is around 8,000 LAK for 1 USD.
- Visas upon arrival are for 30 days for most nationalities and they can be extended a max of two times for up to 30 days each time.
- Bargaining is very much a part of life in Laos, and an art form, requiring a balance of humour, patience and tact.
- Tap water in Laos is not considered safe to drink. It’s recommended to only drink bottled water, readily available in hotels, shops and restaurants.
- Try to bring sufficient amounts and appropriate forms of cash with you upon entry. Laos now has ATM machines, but they are only sparsely located in Huay Xai, Luang Prabang, Vientianne and Vang Vieng
- Be polite. Ask to take people’s pictures (especially a monk), take your shoes off at the door, keep your feet off the furniture, don’t point etc. A little kindness goes a long way!
Top Packing Tips
Laos has a tropical monsoon climate with a cool dry season from November to February, a hot dry season fro March to April and a rainy season from May through October. The wettest months are from June to September; the rain is not constant – afternoon or evening downpours are common. At this time some roads in the countryside may be impassable as they can get flooded or washed out. During the cool season, temperatures in the north, especially in Phonsavan, can get down to freezing. The Bolaven area can get pretty chilly as well.
- The protection basics – Travellers should stock up on the essentials: sun block, mosquito/insect repellant containing DEET or a pyrethroid insecticide, sunglasses and a hat.
- Personal safety products – Before leaving for your trip, make sure to pack some personal safety products, like money belts and locks, so that you can keep your valuables safe on your trip.
- Head Lamp / Torch – Many smaller towns, including several provincial capitals, have power for only a few hours in the evening or none at all, so it’s worth bringing a torch.
- A tropical wardrobe. This should include—for both men and women—shorts, T-shirts, breathable rain gear, a warm jacket or fleece, sturdy footwear, and a wrap. Casual clothes with natural fibers – linen, silk, cotton – work well in the heat and humidity.
Top Things to do in Laos
- Cycle through the Countryside – explore another side of Vang Vieng
- Go on a Motorcycle Adventure – The Loop is a three day motorbike adventure through central Laos which starts and finishes in Ta Khek. The whole thing revolves around a particular guest house, the Ta Khek Travellers Lodge
- Explore the Sacred Caves of Laos – The Pac Ou Caves are a sacred sight located on the Mekong River. It is loaded with thousands of Buddha statues and is still used as a place of worship.
- Slow Boat to Thailand from Laos – Taking the slow boat from Luang Prabang Laos to Chaing Kong Thailand is the perfect way to experience the Mekong river, to see the villagers that live along the river and to view the rolling landscape of Laos.
- Visit Vientaine – Laos’s national capital, Vientiane, should not be missed. Guest houses and shops rent bicycles for a dollar a day and it is a great way to see the Pagoda’s and Wat’s.