Laos overview


Laos is a landlocked mountainous country, widely covered by tropical forest and traversed by the Mekong River. The “Land of a Million Elephants” remains unspoiled nature and original lifestyle. Vientiane, famous for its French colonial architecture and temples will enchant you. Friendly Lao people will happily welcome you in their country.
Time difference
GMT: + 7 hours

Voltage & Electricity
Vietnam operates on a 220V supply voltage and 50Hz.

Language
The official and dominant language is Lao. French is still common in government and commerce and is still studied by many. English has increased in recent years.

Currency & Money
In Laos, the currency is officially the Lao kip (K).
You can find ATMs everywhere in the country but with a maximum of 2 000 000K (240$) per transaction only. Credit cards are accepted only in the bigger towns.

Tipping
A service charge is usually included in larger restaurants and hotels. So tipping is highly appreciate in smaller restaurants but not customary. You can eventually tip baggage porters, drivers and guides.

Visas
Citizens of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as Japan, South Korea, Russia and Switzerland, enjoy visa-free access to Laos.
Most other nationalities can obtain a 30 day tourist visa on arrival, including EU citizens, North Americans and Australians.
Citizens of some African and Middle Eastern countries must apply for a visa in advance.

What to pack
Pack light, you can easily get your clothes laundered for a cheap price. Clothes in natural are more comfortable to wear on the hot and humid days, those will keep you cooler. Good walking shoes are essential.

Public Holidays
1 Jan: New Year’s Day
8 Mar: Women’s Days
14 to 18 Apr: Lao New Year
1 May: Labour Day
1 Jun: Children’s Day
20 Jul: Lao Women’s Union Day
27 Jul: Boun Khao Phansa
24 Oct: Boun Ok Phansa
25 Oct: Boat Racing Festival
22 Nov: That Luang Festival
2 and 3 Dec: National Day and National Day Holiday

Opening hours
Banks: 8.30am to 3.30pm (closed on the weekend)
Shops: 9am to 6pm

Rules of good conduct
- To greet each other in Laos, we join our hands and say “Sa Bai Dee”, men eventually shake hands.
- It is considered impolite to kiss in public, avoid holding hands as well.
- In Laos your head is ‘high’, your feet is ‘low’. Using your feet for anything other than walking or playing sport is generally considered rude.
- Shoes are always taken off before entering a place.
- Laos is very traditional so body-revealing clothes should be avoided.
- Monks are revered and respected in Laos; however women should not touch a monk or a monk’s robes.
- Keeping calm and speak quietly at all time is important, always stay polite.
- Ask permission before taking photos, even if people usually accept.
- Buying ancient representations of Buddha is forbidden but you can purchase new quality handicrafts.

 

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Climate

Laos has a tropical monsoon climate, with a pronounced rainy season from May through October, a cool dry season from November through February, and a hot dry season in March and April. Generally, monsoons occur at the same time across the country, although that time may vary significantly from one year to the next.


Festivals in Laos
A good opportunity to meet Lao People is to go to one of their festival.

1. Lao Food Festival – 3 days in January

Influenced by its neighbours, Laos has plenty of dishes to satisfy your taste buds. Try all of the typical dishes and more at the stalls of Food festival in Vientiane.

2. Lao New Year (Pi Mai Lao) – 3 days April
New Year in Laos is the biggest festival of the year, celebrated with water which represents renewal in Buddhism. Join the celebration with an umbrella and be prepare to get wet wherever you go as water is thrown on everyone. Lao New Year is celebrated everywhere in the country, some attractions and roads will be closed in the cities so it’s recommended to book everything in advance.

3. Rocket Festival or Boun Bang Fai – in May or June
Traditionally, the rocket festival is a ceremony believed to bring the rains so that rice planting can begin. Celebrations typically take two to three days and include music and dance performances, competitive processions of floats, dancers and musicians, and culminate on the third day in competitive firings of home-made rockets.

4. Boun Khao Padabdin – in September
During this religious festival, Lao people visit the temples with offerings. This is interesting for travelers because it includes the famous dragon boat races on the Nam Khan River.

5. Boat racing festival – 1 week in October
Vientiane boat racing is one of the most important Laos festivals, it is huge and the town shuts down as street fairs take over the riverfront. The boat race is on the last day from the morning until late afternoon.

6. Handicrafts Festival – 7 days in November

The Handicrafts Festival in Vientiane is perfect to make your shopping. Unique souvenir hunters have a choice from a wide range of jewelry, art, textiles and pottery. You can even attend to demonstrations.

7. Fire Boat Festival (Lai Heua Fai) – in November
This is a monthly event transforming the UNESCO-listed Site and especially the Ancient Town into a colorful display of paper lanterns.In the UNESCO town of Luang Prabang, during an evening ritual, hundreds of lanterns are lighted on paper boats made by the proud local villagers to celebrate the end of Buddhist lent. You can participate and make your own paper boat before taking it down to the Mekong River.
Vientiane
The capital of Laos has many historic treasures as “the city of sandalwood” a Buddhist stupa. The city features old Buddhist temples and a French touch is still visible from the old days. Vientiane offers a relaxing riverside break where you can enjoy a wonderful sunset over the Mekong. 
View tours to Vientiane
Luang Prabang
Situated at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers this historic city offers a unique serene atmosphere. You will find gorgeous Buddhist temples & monasteries all over the town, and a typical night market where you can buy some souvenirs. But Luang Prabang is also famous for its charming rivers banks where European style cafes are ranked, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
View tours to Luang Prabang
Vang Vieng
The old town is a piece of heaven surrounded by limestone karst hills, the Nam Song River and the jungle. Many activities can be done like tubing & kayaking down the Nam Song River, hiking in the hills, exploring the caves and admire the jungle scenery.
View tours to Vang Vieng
4000 Islands
At the foot of Laos is nestled a peace and quiet gem: Four Thousand Islands. As the name suggests, lots of tiny Islands are spread in the Mekong Delta and most of them are wild and uninhabited. Many activities are available like kayaking, fishing, cycling or simply laid-back on the beach.
View tours to 4000 Islands

1. Hike in the plain of Jars

This curious site hosts ancient megalithic structures that resemble jars of various sizes. The thousands of jars carved from sandstone and granite forms an enigmatic natural structure because no one has a clear idea why they were made and when exactly. Hiking in this area is a mysterious & memorable experience.
 

2. Swim at the Kuang Si Waterfalls

The water of Kuang Si Falls drops into spectacular turquoise pools. This is the best place to refresh yourself in the deep azure pools surrounded by the lush tropical jungle. 
 

3. Cruise to the Pak Ou Caves

From a multitude of caves on the edge the Mekong River, Pak Ou Buddha Caves is the most remarkable. This is a religious site and once you are inside the rock, you are welcomed with thousands statues of the Buddha.

Laos Tours

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Indochina Odyssey
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Hanoi | Halong | Hoi An | Ho Chi Minh | Mekong Delta | Siem Reap | Luang Prabang

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