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About Laos

Discover the laid back charm of exotic Laos, a landlocked nation with the Mekong River at its heart with Laos package tours. You will experience Vientiane's wonderful architecture, monuments, markets and Mekong sunsets, and explore Luang Prabang's stunning array of glittering temples. You can also opt to tour an area that interests you most, or combine a tour of Laos with parts of neighboring Vietnam or Cambodia.

Capital City: Vientiane 
Language: Lao (Other languages used in Laos are French, English, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese. )
Currency: Kip (KIP)
Time Zone: GMT +7 Hours
International Dialing Code: +856
Best time to visit: from November to April
 
Passport and visa

All visitors to Laos require a valid passport with at least 6 months left before its expiry. Visas are required for entry into Lao PDR. A regular tourist visa is valid for up to 15-30 days, and may be issued upon arrival at any land international immigration checkpoints to Laos including major airports such as Vientiane's Wattay Airport, Luang Prabang Airport, Pakse Airport and Savannakhet Airport for US$18.00-US$45.00 this visa fee is subject to passport holder. (2 passport size color photos are required and the application form is available at the immigration counter). 

 

The most convenience entering Laos is applying visa on arrival. It can be obtained upon arrival at the airport and some major international boarder gates. (Visa application form is available at immigration counter. However, guests who has pre-visa arranged must obtain a copy of the visa approval before boarding the flight to Laos. If visas are needed, or if visas have already been approved, please provide us with passport and applicant details at least 10 days before the date of travel so that arrangements can be made / checked (as appropriate). You may require to check out the official site of Lao Immigration http://www.immigration.gov.la/

 

DISEMBARKATION 

On the plane, the passenger will be given two forms to complete. The first is an Arrival / Departure Card. This card has two parts - the immigration officer will take one part, the other must be retained for use when the passenger departs. The second form is the Customs Declaration Form. This card should be filled out before arrival at the airport. 

In the airport, the passenger will get a visa application form. 

 

Note: After completed your formality, you are required to double check on your passport to make sure stamping is made clearly; this is avoid the penalty charges on your departure from Laos.

 

VISA APPLICATION FORM 

The passenger hands the completed application form with two photos and the passport to an officer. Once approved, the passport will be stamped and the passenger pays the visa fee. 

 

 
Currency
The Kip (LAK) is the official currency of the Lao PDR and the following bank notes are currently in circulation: 500; 1,000; 2,000; 5,000; 10,000; 20,000 and 50,000 Kip.
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.
 
Phones & Internet service

Telephone: 

International code of Laos: +856

Luang Prabang domestic code: 071
Vientiane Capital domestic code: 021
Pakse’s code:  031
Xiengkhouang’s code: 061
Savannakhet’s code: 041
Luang Namtha’s code: 086

Emergency phone numbers:
Police: 191
Fire brigade: 190
Ambulance: 112
Telephone enquiries: 101

Phone cards can be easily bought at bookstores and post offices.

Internet service:

It is popular in most cities with high speed (Wifi, ADSL, cable…) and at very reasonable rate. Visitors can access Internet at hotels, coffee shops or computer service centers. Especially wifi Internet connection is available and free-of-charge in many cafeterias in Luang Prabang and Vientiane Capital.

Weather

Laos has a tropical monsoon climate with wet and dry seasons. May is very hot with occasional rain; June to October is the humid and wet monsoon season; and November to April is the cooler, dry season.

 

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Vientiane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Max (C)

28

30

33

34

33

32

31

31

31

30

30

28

 

Min (C)

14

17

20

23

26

24

24

24

24

22

19

15

 

Rain (mm)

10

20

40

100

260

310

260

305

300

110

20

5

Luang Prabang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Max (C)

28

30

32

39

34

34

32

32

32

31

30

29

 

Min (C)

14

16

19

23

24

25

24

24

24

23

20

16

 

Rain (mm)

10

15

25

100

165

150

235

300

170

75

25

10

 
Health and Safety

Please be aware that your health can be at risk in Laos due to poor sanitation and lack of effective medical facilities. Rural areas may not have pharmacies and hospitals so make sure you travel with a full supply of any prescribed medicine you take. Every traveller is responsible for his or her own health. First and foremost, make sure that you have travel insurance for your trip. You should also consult your doctor or local travel clinic for the latest information and advice on travelling to Laos before departure.

If you have a medical condition or allergy which requires particular attention, please carry a doctor’s letter with you that describes the nature of the condition and treatment needed. We also recommend you pack a medical kit, including paracetamol and a diarrhoea remedy.

 
Vaccinations

There are many vaccinations needed when travelling to this part of the world. It is important you ensure you have adequate protection against disease.  Book an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic, no less than two months before your departure.

 

Travel insurance

Indochina Charm Tours try out best to do everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, travel inevitably involves some risk and this should be recognised by holiday-makers. Travel insurance is a cost effective way of protecting yourself and your equipment should any problems occur such as cancelled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. It also gives you peace of mind. Please also ensure your travel insurance covers all activities planned on your trip.

 

Food and drink
Traditional Laotian cooking involves a lot of game, wild boar and river fish. The freshness of ingredients is very important to Lao people who like to prepare everything from scratch. Herbs such as galangal and lemongrass are favourites and padaek (Lao fish sauce) is found on every table.
A national dish is called Lap, which is a spicy mixture of marinated meat and/or fish that is sometimes served raw. Like its neighbour countries, rice is a staple food in Laos. However, sticky rice is preferred, which is crushed into a ball with fingers and used to soak up sauces.
 
Useful food terms
KhaoNie (sticky rice)
Tamarkhong (papaya salad)
Markphet (chili)
 
Western food is available in most main cities and tourist spots.
 
It is not advisable to drink tap water. Bottled water is recommended but do check the expiry date before opening. Ice is widely used and is produced with treated water.
 
Public holidays

The vast majority of Laos’ festivals are linked to the seasons or Buddhist holidays. Pimai, the Lao New Year, is the country's most important holiday. The three-day celebration usually takes place in mid-April and is characterized by the ceremonial washing of Buddha statues in temples. Other noteworthy festivals include:

• January - Bun Pha Wet. Falling on different dates throughout the month the festival commemorates the Jataka, the life story of Lord Buddha as Prince Vestsantara. The story is recited in temples throughout the country and this is considered a particularly auspicious time for ordination as a monk.

• February - Magha Puja - Held on the night of the full moon to commemorate the original teachings of Lord Buddha given to over a thousand monks who came spontaneously to hear him speak. The festival is marked by grand parades of candle-bearing worshippers circling their local temples and much religious music and chanting. - Vietnamese Tet & Chinese New Year - Celebrated in Vientiane, Pakse and Savannakhet by the Vietnamese and Chinese communities who close their businesses for several days during this period.

• March - Boun Khoun Khao - A harvest festival celebrated at local temples

• April - Boun Pimai - This is the celebration of the Lao New Year and is a combination of merriment and meditation. Similar to other festivals at this time, in particular Thailand, Boun Pimai is celebrated with parades, dancing, singing and enthusiastic water-throwing. At Luang Prabang water pouring ceremonies are performed on Buddha statues. Temple compounds are further decorated with small sand Stupas, offered to bring good fortune and health.

• May - Labor Day 1st May - public holiday. Boun Bang Fai (rocket festival) - With its origins in pre-Buddhist rain-invoking ceremonies, this festival now coincides with the Lao Visakha Puja celebrations. Parades, songs and dances all lead to an explosive climax as huge, ornate, homemade bamboo rockets are blessed and fired into the skies to invite the rains.

• June/July - Children's Day (1st June - public holiday). Khao Phansaa - Marking the beginning of the three-month Buddhist Lent, which commences at the full moon in July and continues until the full moon in October.

• August - Haw Khao Padap Din - Devoted to remembering and paying respect to the dead, it is marked by the macabre ceremony of exhuming previously buried bodies, cleaning the remains and then cremating them on the night of the full moon. Relatives then present gifts to the monks who have chanted on behalf of those who have passed away.

• October - Awk Phansaa (Awk Watsa) - Marking the end of Buddhist Lent on the day of the full moon. Monks are at last permitted to leave the temple and are presented with gifts. Bun Nam (water festival) - In riverside towns such as Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Savannakhet, the highly competitive Bun Nam boat races (suang heua) are held during the same time as Awk Phansaa.

• November - Boun That Luang - Though celebrated at many temples around the country this festival is traditionally centered at That Luang in Vientiane. Fairs, beauty contests, music and fireworks take place throughout the week of the full moon and end with a candlelight procession (wien thien) around the temple of That Luang.

• December - Lao National Day (2nd December - public holiday) - Streets strewn with national flags and banners, processions, parades, and speeches are the highlights of this celebration for the victory of the proletariat in 1975. 

 
Pre-departure checklist
  • Travel insurance
  • Passport with at least six months validity from date of entry
  • Photocopy of passport
  • Passport-sized photo and $USD for visa on arrival
  • Vaccinations
  • Foreign currency (US$) and/or ATM card
  • All relevant tickets
  • Reconfirmed flights
  • Light weight clothing
  • Long sleeved shirts and trousers (November-February evenings)
  • Depending on the season, your activities and the region you will be visiting (e.g. mountainous areas) it may be advisable for you to bring a jacket with you.
  • Electrical adaptor: 220V, 50Hz; 2 pin plugs
  • A small bag/backpack for day and overnight trips
  • Appropriate shoes for trekking, cycling and walking
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Medication/first aid kit

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