The Land of A Million Elephants ”
Laos seems to be a magical land that has been forgotten for centuries, it is truly preserved hidden beauties endowed nature with its unique topography and ecosystems along with mysterious culture and heritage site. Coming to the “Land of million elephants” as losing in the peaceful and unhurried living, experience visits the ancient ruin and forgotten temples, French colonial-influenced construction, Buddhist temples with beggar monks truly leave a dramatic impression once setting foot on Laos.
Luang Prabang is known as the ancient capital of Laos, which was once glorious and splendid, located in the scenic valley at the confluence of the mighty Mekong and Nam Khan River. Luang Prabang truly embraces and reflects the beauty and culture of Laos, offering local experiences and being overwhelmed by the mountainous landscape. Northern Laos is a nature’s gift with complex mountainous terrain that contributes to making Laos a perfect place to challenge your courage on the adventurous route and awaken the discovery of the untouched land, it’s also home to unexplored ethnic communities colorfully adorned in their traditional dress. Heading to the South of Laos with the UNESCO heritage Wat Phou Temples is a remarkably well-preserved planned landscape for more than a thousand years. Explore and welcome to Laos!
Neighbor: Myanmar and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south, and Thailand to the west.
Area: 236 800 km²
Population: 7,014,451 (January, 2019)
Ethnic groups: 55% Lao, 11% Kamu, 8% Hmong, 26 % Others
Official Religion: Buddhism (67%)
Spoken Language: Lao or Laotian is a tonal language of the Tai–Kadai language family. It is the official language of Laos, and also spoken in the northeast of Thailand, where it is usually referred to as the Isan language.
Currency: Kip ($1 = 8,867.07 Laotian Kip – January 2020)
Getting a Laos visa has just become even easier. As well as getting a visa for PDR of Laos through usual channels at embassies or consulates, travelers of most nations can obtain their Laos visa upon arrival at the international airports of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Savannakhet, as well as at various border crossing points with neighboring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and China.
Travelers holding passports from the following countries are not eligible for a Laos visa on arrival: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burundi Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bussau, Jordan, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mozambique, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Suriname, Syria, Swaziland (Eswatini), Tonga, Turkey, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Passport holders from these countries need to apply for a Laos visa at the embassies prior to their visit.
Passport holders from Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, Luxembourg and Switzerland can enter Laos with a visa exemption.
There are 3 options to choose from to obtain a visa for Laos:
- Laos eVisa via the Internet
The processing time for the visa is 3 working days and it can be used to enter 5 international ports (https://laoevisa.gov.la/):
- Wattay International Airport (Vientiane Capital)
- Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I (Vientiane Capital)
- Luang Prabang International Airport
- Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II (Savannakhet Province)
- Pakse International Airport (Champasak Province)
The Laos eVisa fee is non-refundable.
- Direct international arrival at Vientiane and Luang Prabang
The visa is then valid for 30 days and may be extended for a further 15 days only through a travel agency in Vientiane.
International Airport-Laos has 4 international airports.
- Wattay International Airport in Vientiane Capital has flights to/from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ha Noi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vinh, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Seoul, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Guangzhou.
Located 5 km outside of the city center. The transfer from the city center to the airport takes around 15 minutes.
The airport is currently expanding in order to reach international standard.
- Luang Prabang International Airport in Luang Prabang has flights to/from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ha Noi, Siem Reap, Singapore, Kunming, Guangzhou.
Located 3 km from the city center. The transfer from the city center to the airport takes around 10 minutes
The airport has been recently renovated and upgraded to reach international standards.
- Savanakhet International airport in Savanakhet has flights from Bangkok.
Located 2 km from the city center. The transfer from the city center to the airport takes around 10 minutes
The airport is quite small and basically equipped
- Pakse International Airport in Champassak has flights from Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap.
Located around 4 km from city center. The transfer from the city center to the airport takes around 15 minutes transfer
The airport is small and simply equipped.
aos’ currency is called KIP, pronounced “kip”. Bills that represent Kip are broken down into 500; 1000; 2000; 5000; 10 000; 20 000; 50 000 and 100 000 KIP denominations. Please be aware that the KIP is a non-convertible currency and cannot officially be exchanged abroad. The official exchange rate in Laos is around 8,512.70 Laotian Kip for USD 1 (January 2019).
Foreign currencies such as US Dollars, Euros, Thai Baht, Australia Dollars are popularly accepted in Laos to be exchanged into KIP and tourists are entitled to exchange money easily at the current market rate at the banks, airport or at any licensed money changer. The presentation of your passport is sometimes requested. Please ask your tour guide for assistance in case you need.
It is advised to bring new and undamaged bills. Exchange places and banks recently started to charge 15-30% to deal with damaged/old/stamped bills. Also, exchange rates can vary depending on your denomination.
CREDIT CARDS AND ATMS
The network of ATM machines covers the most visited cities in Laos by tourists and business travelers. The maximum amount per withdrawal is 1,500,000/time and maximum 7,000,000/day. The ATMs can charge a fee of 25 000 KIP (subject to change) or equivalent for each transaction. Some visa cards are restricted by the issuing bank for overseas use and therefore, customers may require seeking the approval of the issuing bank in order to do so.
Credit cards are widely accepted by local suppliers in big cities (such as Luang Prabang and Vientiane), usually high-end hotels or shops, however, they usually entail a 2.5-3% surcharge. In others, the use of cash is more popular and recommended.
If you travel to Laos, make sure that all of your vaccinations are up to date and that you are vaccinated for Tetanus, Polio and Diphtheria. Other vaccines recommended include Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B (if you are in-country for over 3 months), Typhus and Tuberculosis, vaccinations against rabies and Japanese encephalitis are also advised. Officially there are no vaccinations required to enter Laos.
- Drink a lot of water during the day (2 liters).
- Do not drink tap water in Laos. Only bottled water is drinkable. The most popular brands are Tiger Head and Dao.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Most important: Trust your gut feeling. If you don’t like your food, stop eating and do a double take when eating from street vendors.
Your home embassy may be able to assist with advice during emergencies or serious problems. You might want to register if possible before you arrive so that the embassy staff will know where to reach you in case of emergency at home. If calling a Lao emergency number you may have to ask the aid of a Laotian speaker because there might not be an English-speaking operator on the line:
Fire department: 191
Red Cross: (01) 392029 / 30
- Make sure your passport is valid with at least 6 months before the expiry date and that you have the correct visas. Have a look at the visa requirements for more information.
- Consider medical, baggage and trip cancellation insurances.
- Check with your doctor regarding re-vaccinations and medicines needed.
- Clothing should be lightweight and of the drip dry variety. You will be in the sun a lot so long sleeves and a wide hat would be more suitable.
- Underwear should be synthetic and easily washable.
- Shirts should be long sleeved and light-weight with lots of closed pockets.
- T-shirts, short sleeved and again with pockets.
- Cool evenings during November – February, so pullovers or a light-weight jacket are recommended.
- A light weight vest with lots of pockets will be handy for carrying your film camera and binoculars.
- Long trousers made from a light-weight, quick drying fabric should have multi pockets for day trips. Long trousers that turn into shorts are ideal.
- For trekking, light-weight long shorts (for modesty purposes) are acceptable.
- Bathing suit should be modest so it does not offend the locals.
- Hat for sun protection. Should have a wide brim and a strap.
- A sturdy poncho or parka will help to keep you gear dry in case of rain or waterfall spray.
- Footwear: You will need some sturdy comfortable boots for trekking or just walking around. They will need to support your ankle as well as having a non-slip sole.
Suggested Laos Itineraries
Explore our Laos sample itineraries to inspire your travel planning. The itineraries can be easily customised and adapted to your personal interests and preferences.
Key Cities In Laos
Learn more about the unique characteristics and attractions of the cities that make up this vibrant country.
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