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.
What to Expect
Landlocked Laos is a predominantly rural country, with the Mekong River flowing through it. Mountains, rivers and farmlands dominate, and while the cities and towns offer creature comforts, Laos is overall quite undeveloped compared to its neighbours, Vietnam and Thailand.
A strong Buddhist culture pervades, and you can expect to see monks collecting alms, glittering temples, fascinating monuments and a charming blend of French-colonial and Laotian architecture.
The people in Laos are warm and welcoming, and you may encounter monks keen to practice their English with you. While certain hotels and restaurants are comparable to Western standards, service may be different to what you are used to. It is important to remain calm and patient in your interactions in Laos.
From Australia: Flight times range from 12 hours (Sydney, Melbourne, Perth) to 15 hours (Adelaide, Brisbane)
From New Zealand: 16 hours from Auckland
From UK: 16 hours from London
From USA: Flight times range from 18 hours (Los Angeles) to 21 hours (New York)
Weather or Climate
Laos can be visited year-round. The ‘wet’ season, from May to October, is very warm in the tropical lowlands, while the mountains remain cooler. Rain is usually in the form of sporadic showers and rarely affects travel, although overland road travel in some remote regions may not be possible. Many travellers prefer Laos at this time of year as there are fewer tourists, and the landscape is lush and green. In the north it can get quite cool in the evenings between November and February.
Laos has a tropical monsoon climate with two distinct seasons.
May – October: Rainy season
November – April: Dry season Replica Watches Rolex UK
March – April: Hottest months - temperatures can reach as high as 38°C/100F
December: Lowest temperatures around 15°C/59F
The average temperature is between 25°C/77F and 30°C/84F
Money and Local Exchange
The official currency of Laos is the kip. Major travelers checks can be cashed at banks. Credit cards are accepted in major hotels and a limited number of upscale shopping establishments. ATMs accept Visa, Mastercard and several cards with inter-bank access, and dispense kip notes. Thai baht and US dollars are generally accepted in larger urban centers.
Lao Kip (LAK; symbol S65;) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of S65;50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500.
The best currencies to use when exchanging money are: US Dollars, Euros and Thai Baht. You can exchange your currency at the bank, airport, or at a foreign currency exchange office.
Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs
Major credit cards are accepted in the more upmarket hotels and restaurants only in Vientiane and Luang Prabang. ATMs are slowly being introduced, particularly in Vientiane, but do not rely on them.
Limited acceptance and often with a hefty commission charge. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars or Thai Baht.
Mon-Fri 0830-1600. Some banks remain open during lunch
Health and Safety
Laos is generally a safe country, but the usual common sense precautions apply. Cities are small, and even at night you will feel quite safe walking outside. Most Laotians go to bed fairly early so streets will usually be very quiet after 9pm; there is a government-imposed curfew which requires all businesses to close by midnight.
Uneven surfaces and potholes are common on Lao streets, so always watch where you walk. We recommend you wear as little jewellery as possible and keep your spending money close to your body. To assist in finding your way back to your hotel, make sure you obtain a hotel address card to show taxi drivers.
Throughout your stay, always keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers, and a detailed record of your traveller's cheques in a safe place separate from the originals. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes wherever possible. For more information or to read our full safety guidelines
Travelling to destinations that Explore Vanishing Culture operates in is generally an extremely rewarding and enjoyable experience. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that some of the risks you may face may be different to those encountered in your home country. Whilst we cannot identify all of the risks you may face when travelling in Asia, some of the key ones are outlined below:
Vietland Holidays takes all reasonable steps to minimise the risk faced by our travellers, guides and tour leaders. Please read on to see just a few of the things we do to reduce risk and some of the things you can do to manage these risks yourself.
Explore Vanishing Culture takes its responsibilities to our travelers seriously and takes many steps to reduce the risks which our travelers, guides and tour leaders may face. A few of the key things we do include:
Explore Vanishing Culture will do everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, certain risks are involved and should be recognized by participants. Thus, we require all guests to purchase travel insurance prior to their trip. Travel insurance is a cost effective way of protecting yourself and your equipment in the event of problems due to cancelled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. It also gives you peace of mind for your trip.
Travel insurance is intended to cover medical extenses and finacial ( Such as money invested in non refundable pre-payments) and other losses incurred while traveling. It is also mandatory to obtain visas to a number of destinations, such as Europe, Australia , or USA for instance.
If you plan a trip abroad and do not have a personal insurance , please contact us and we shall arrange temperary travel insurance at the time of booking of your trip to cover exactly its duration, or a more intensive , continuos insurance.
Cuisine, Special Dietary Requests and Drinking Water
Laos’ cuisine is similar to that of Thailand and offers a variety of national dishes. Like all other Buddhist countries, vegetarian food is readily available in most restaurants.
If you are a vegetarian, vegan, allergic to any foods or adhere to a special diet, please advise us prior to your trip so we can comply with your dietary requirements.
It is not advisable to drink tap water in any South East Asian countries. Bottled water is recommended but do check the expiry date before opening it. Ice is widely used in Laos and it is produced with treated water.