Laos is a landlocked country in the center of Indochina. It shares borders with China and Burma to the north, Cambodia to the south, Thailand to the west and Vietname to the east.
Approximately 70% of its total area (236,800 square kilometers) comprises of mountain and plateaux areas.
Mekong river (one of the longest rivers in the world) forms a natural border with Thailand. It flows through almost 1,900 kilometers of the territory of Laos.
Laos has a warm and tropical climate with two seasons: the rainy season from the beginning of May to the end of September and the dry season from October to April. The average temperature 29 degree centigrade. Maximum temperature can reach up to 40 degree centigrade. Temperatures can drop to as low as 15 degrees or even lower in mountains. Generally, tourists are recommended to visit Laos during the months of November to March because these are cool months and rainfall is lower than other periods.
Like in Cambodia, visa is payable on arrival or can be collected on arrival at most border check points without prior authorization. The visa fee is 30USD and requires the filling in of an application form and two passport-sized photos. In all cases, a valid passport is required
Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated in these developing nations. It is at your discretion to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel and station porters should also be tipped.
It is not advisable to drink tap water in Indochina, Myanmar and Thailand but bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere. Ice in drinks is generally OK in good standard hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas.
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 Laos just yet.
January 1: New Year’s Day
April 13-15: Boun Pimai. The Lao New Year
May 1: Labour Day
Dec 2: Independence Day
Like other Asian countries, there are many souvenirs choices in Laos. The best buys in Laos are ethnic minority fabrics. The Lao sarong or pha sin made from silk or cotton is popular souvenir. Other souvenirs to look out for include arts & antique, gold, silver & gems, in particular from Luang Prabang.
The official language used in Laos is Lao language. However, the usage of the language can differ from north and south. English, French and Russian are spoken in business or by some senior government officials. Many shopkeepers can understand basic English and French.
Hello – sa bai dii
Goodbye – la gawn
Thank you – khawp chai