Destination fact
Lao
 
Lao facts

Laos Facts

 

Introduction:

Laos is an enigmatic backwater slowly waking up to the world. The petite capital of Vientiane is a place of historic temples, while Luang Prabang is a slice of Lao history with temples, shrines and palaces lining its slow-paced streets. Elsewhere in Laos is the puzzling Plain of Jars and the sleepy Mekong islands of Si Phan Don, ensuring an enchanting time. A visit to Laos is a visit to another world, an older Asia and will enlighten your senses every step of the way.


          


Arrival

By air:The main port of arrival by air is Vattay International airport in Vientiane. The following companies currently fly to Vientiane: Lao Aviation, Thai Airways International, Vietnam Airlines, Southern China Airlines, Silk Air and Malaysian Airlines. Regular flights are available to and from Bangkok, Phom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Chiang Mai, Kunming, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.


By road

Entry to Laos is possible from neighboring countries. Between Thailand and Laos the border can be crossed at Houeixay in Bokeo province, at the Mittaphab Friendship Bridge near Vientiane and at Dan Savannakhet Province, and Thai – Laos Friendship Bridge in Nong Khai Province Thailand connect to Vientian, Laos. A border crossing between Laos and Vietnam has been set up at Laksao


AIRPORT TAX  
International Flights: 10 USD
Domestic Flights : 1 USD

 

Business hours & local time

Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 08:00 until 16:00 and often close for lunch between 12:00 and 14:00. Shops open from Monday to Saturday between 09:00 and 17:00 and some also open on Sunday.Local time is Greenwich Mean time (GMT) plus seven hours

 

Clothing

Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for travelling in Indochina,and . The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat is a good idea in the rainy season. Visitors to Buddhist countries should not wear shorts, short skirts or other skimpy clothing when visiting religious buildings and shoes should be removed before entering a private home. Bodily hygiene and cleanliness are of the highest standard in and a visitor's failure to meet these standard is nit well received. Wash yourself and your clothes daily or prepare to the laughed at and avoided!

 

Electricity 220V, 50Hz

 

Food

Lao cuisine has a wide range of food, ranging from European to Asian cuisine. But whenever you visit please do not forget to try 'khao neo' (sticky rice). Khao neo is a symbol of and it is taken together with all sort of food (like Europeans eat bread). Khao neo can also be used to make desert. So don't forget to try Lao khao neo. Laap (meat salad), tam maak houng (papaya salad) and ping kai (bbq chicken) are typical Lao food and eaten with khao neo. 

Please bear in mind that some of Lao food are quite hot and spicy, so it is a good idea to ask people to make it less spicy if you cannot take hot food. There are a lot of restaurants scattered over the town. You can find Japanese, French, Italian, Chinese, Indian and other kinds of food in those restaurants with their own unique environment. If you like something quick and simple, fer (noodle soup) is the best choice, especially for those who are always up and running. 

 

 

Health Precautions

No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. Malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take precautions especially if travelling off the beaten track. It is essential to purchase your own travel insurance covering air evacuation before traveling. Please kindly visit Travel Insurance for being instructed. 

 

Hours of Business
Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 08:00 until 16:00 and often close for lunch between 12:00 and 14:00. Shops open from Monday to Saturday between09:00 and 17:00 and some also open on Sunday.

 

International Flights

There are now two international gateways to Laos. Wattay Inter-national Airport serves the capital of Vientiane and Luang Prabang International Airport acts as a newly popular gateway to the north. Airlines currently servicing Laos include flag carrier Lao Aviation, as well as Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Siem Reap Airways, Yunnan Airlines, Vietnam Airlines and Silk Air. Direct flights to Vientiane are available from Bangkok, Chang Mai, Hanoi, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kunming and Singapore. Luang Prabang is connected to Chiang Mai and Danang, but more routes are expected soon.

 

Language

The national language of Laos is Lao, which is closely related to Thai and is spoken in many different dialects. Lao, like Thai, is a tonal language. French is still spoken by many government officials and educated members of the older generation but Thai and English are popular with younger people. 

 

Money

Lao national currency is Kip. There has been some devaluation of Lao Kip in the past few years. There are exchange booths available throughout town. Major credit cards are also accepted in large shops. You can also withdraw cash by using your credit cards, but it has to be done at a bank, since there is no automatic teller machine in just yet.

 

Population and People

The population of Laos is about 5 million and growing fast. Lao make up 50 percent of the population, while a huge number of other ethnic groups make up the rest. They include a diversity of groups known as Lao Thai, related to the Thai minorities, Lao Theung, mainly Mon-Khmer peoples thought to have inhabited the area before the other groups, and the Lao Sung, who live at elevations above 1000m and only migrated here in the last century. There are also sizeable Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai and Khmer communities.

 

Public Holidays

                                            January     1              New Year's Day

                                            April            13-15     Boun Pimai. The Lao New Year

                                            May            1              Labour Day

                                            December 2             Independence Day


      


the Morning Market. Normal mail service is inexpensive and generally reliable, however for urgent or valuable

 

Post and Telecommunication

Vientiane’s General Post Office is located beside mail (either to or from Laos) EMS or courier service is recommended.
The GPO offers public telephones for local, national and international calls. Phone card (available at appointed shops) booths are available for domestic and overseas calls. Most large hotels have IDD lines, but calls are expensive. Country code: 856. Outgoing international code: 00

 

Religion

As in the neighbouring countries of Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia Theravada      Buddhism is the dominant religion and saffron-robed monks are a common sight in Laos. There are also a small number of Catholics and Protestants.

About 60% of the population of Laos follow Theravada Buddhism. It was
introduced to Laos in the late 13th century. It is enhanced by traditional animist beliefs and spirit worship that were popular before Buddhism and remain the pre-dominant faith among minority groups in Laos

 

Safety

Traveling in Laos is generally very safe. The majority of hotels either have a safety deposit box at the reception desk or in the rooms, or both. Just to be on the safe side when traveling anywhere in the country you should exercise common sense. Concern has been raised about Communist guerillas operating between Luang Prabang and Vang Vieng although attacks on tourists are almost non-existent.


Shopping

Laos offers a limited range of handicrafts when compared with neighbouring Thailand, but Lao textiles are among the most accomplished in the region. Different minority groups produce different patterns and items can be bought as clothing, tablecloths or bags. Carvings in wood or stone are popular depicting scenes from Hindu or Buddhist mythology, as well a intricately carved opium pipes, although make sure these not of ivory. Some Asian antiquities are available in the tourist centers, but officially there is a ban on the export of these items so do not invest too much in any one item.

 

Tipping

Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in these developing nations. It is customary, though not compulsory, to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped a small amount for their troubles




Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is not included in all of our tours/service. We highly recommend you purchase your own one including air evacuation in your country before traveling.


Visas

Like Vietnam, approval is required for visas to Laos and this should be applied for at least 5 working days prior to departure. However, it is now also possible to collect visas on arrival at Vientiane International Airport, Luang Prabang International Airport, Paksé International Airport and the Friendship Bridge between Laos and Thailand without prior authorisation. This costs 30 USD and requires the filling in of an application form and two passport photos.

 

Water

It is not advisable to drink tap water in Laos but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. Ice in drinks is generally fine in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas. 

 

Weather

The rainy season in Laos lasts from May through to October with hot and humid weather in the 30s Celsius. The dry season begins in November with cool temperatures of 10-20 oC giving way to hot and dry weather from April through to May when the temperature can reach the high 30s Celsius.

 

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