Tips & Guides
Both Vientiane and Luang Prabang offer accommodation of highest
international standard. Throughout the country however accommodation
ranges from standard hotel in the bigger cities to basic guesthouse
standard in more remote areas.
Please note that the following Airport Taxes are payable:
US$ 10 net per person for international departure
Kip 5,000 per person for domestic departure
Above mentioned charges are current and subject to change without
ARRIVAL FORMALITIES - IMMIGRATION
During your flight to Laos or upon arrival at the Border checkpoint,
an Arrival/Departure Card and a Customs Declaration Form will be
handed to you. Please fill this in and proceed then to the Immigration
If you are obtaining your visa upon arrival please fill in the appropriate
form and obtain then first your visa at the visa counter before
proceeding to the Immigration desk (please see details under VISA)
Overland border crossings are possible at various points to all
neighboring countries. This changes regularly and please write to
us to get the latest information.
Laos Enjoys a tropical climate with three distinct seasons:
Hot season : March - May
Rainy season : June - October
Cool season : November - February
The best season to visit is the cool season during
the Winter month. Please note however that in the mountain areas
the temperatures can drop very low during this period.
If hotels, restaurant or vehicle hire companies charge Insight Laos
a penalty for cancellations received less than 30 days prior to
arrival, these cancellation fees will be invoiced to clients.
Comfortable cloth and walking shoes are most suitable for travelling
through Laos. Sunscreen lotion and a hat are strongly recommended.
There are no places where knees and shoulders have to be covered
so shorts and skirts are fine, however please do respect the culture
and traditions of Laos.
During the cool season it is necessary to take
along a pullover or jacket as the nights can be very cool, especially
in the mountainous areas as Luang Prabang, Plain of Jars, Pakbeng
and Houeixai. We even recommend bringing along a windproof jacket
if travelling in these areas during the winter month.
If travelling during the rainy season a raincoat
Credit cards are only accepted at major hotels. It is possible to
withdraw money from certain banks with a credit card but this is
CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE
The local currency is the KIP. The exchange rate in October 2002
is approximately 1,000 Kip to one US Dollar. Money can be changed
at major hotels, banks and moneychangers. Travelers' cheques are
not widely accepted but can be changed at most banks. It is easiest
to travel to Laos with US Dollars in cash, including small denominations
(one and five dollar bills). US Dollars are accepted almost everywhere,
including local markets.
International rules apply for importing goods into Laos. Customs
might however check your luggage carefully upon departure to ensure
that you are not exporting antiques.
All domestic flights within Laos are operated by Lao Aviation. There
are flights to many destinations within the country, the main routes
being Vientiane - Luang Prabang and Vientiane - Pakse.
Flights are operated by ATR 72 for the main routes
and Y7 and Y12 for the more remote areas.
Do NOT drink tap water bottled water is readily available everywhere.
Ice is safe in the hotels but not recommended elsewhere. In local
restaurants it is best to order only canned soft drinks and beer
- avoid freshly made juices.
Standard current used is 220 volts (or 50 Hz). Electricity supply
in the bigger cities is regular, although most hotels and restaurants
still have their own generators. However, power cuts should be expected
in other parts of the country. It is a good idea to carry a torch
Laotian cuisine is very similar to Thai cuisine and can be very
spicy. The staples are soup, rice and noodles, served stir fried
or curried with meat, fish or vegetables. A wide choice of Western
dishes is also available at restaurants in the main tourist areas.
Please note that while large groups can be accepted for travel to
Vientiane and Luang Prabang, maximum group size for travel beyond
these two cities will depend on transportation and hotel capacities
Medical standards outside Vientiane are very basic. There are no
compulsory vaccinations but we advise you to seek the advice of
your doctor. Whilst the main areas are malaria-free, we recommend
being careful. The best way to escape malaria is to avoid being
bitten by mosquitoes - in the evenings, wear trousers, socks and
long sleeved shirts, and use insect repellent.
All visitors to Laos should have adequate health insurance, in particular
covering evacuation in the event of a medical emergency. Although
there are good doctors, hospitals are sadly lacking up-to-date medical
Internet access is available in all the major hotels and there are
also plenty of Internet cafes in the main tourist areas with reliable
connections at very reasonable prices.
We strongly advise you to buy comprehensive travel insurance before
traveling to Laos, covering medical treatment and medical evacuation.
Airlines flying from/to Laos are currently Lao Aviation, Thai Airways
International, Bangkok Airways and Vietnam Airlines. International
flight tickets should be reconfirmed - your tour guide will collect
your tickets in order to reconfirm seats for you.
Lao is the principal language of Laos, although there are several
ethnic groups who have their own languages. Many of the older people
still speak French. However, the younger people are all learning
English, which is now widely understood.
Laos is 7 hours ahead of Greenwich time (same time zone as Thailand).
MEET AND GREET
Your guide will meet you after you have completed Immigration formalities,
collected your luggage and passed through Customs.
Please use your discretion when taking photographs - it is polite
to ask people before taking their picture. Laos is an exceptionally
photogenic place don't underestimate how much film you will use
in one day! Film (for colour prints) is readily available, however,
if you need specialist equipment, please bring it with you.
Laos has an estimated population of 5.5 million. The nation's population
density if one of the lowest in Asia, around 20 people per square
POST & TELECOMMUNICATIONS
It is normally easy to make international calls from international
hotels, although it is expensive. In the major cities and places
telephone cabins are available for domestic and overseas calls.
Phone cards can be purchased at the shops nearby or at Lao Telecom
Company. International roaming is also available for Mobile Phones
in the major cities.
The postal system is fairly reliable and inexpensive
with mail routed via Thailand.
Main items of interest to be bought in Laos are the beautiful hand
woven silk and cotton tissues, wood or stone handicrafts, and precious
stones. There are souvenir and handicraft shops in Luang Prabang
and Vientiane but many handicrafts and arts
items can be found at the common markets. Bargaining
is customary for souvenirs shops. Buyers should use caution when
purchasing antiques since the export of antique items is subject
to the approval of Ministry of Culture.
Tipping is not obligatory but a small tip is always welcome. Porters
would expect at least 2000 Kip per bag.
Government offices and most businesses are open from 0800 to 1130
hours and from 1330 to 1700 hours, Monday to Friday.
Visas are required by all nationalities and your passport needs
to be valid for at least 3 month. A tourist visa is valid for 15
days and can be extended an additional 15 days once you are in Laos.
Visa on arrival
If you arrive in Laos by air or enter via the Friendship Bridge
from Thailand you can obtain your visa upon arrival. Your passport
needs to be valid for at least 3 month, one passport picture is
required and the fee is currently US$ 30 net per visa, payable in
cash only. Please refer to "Arrival Formalities" for Immigration
If you plan to enter Laos via on overland border point you have
to obtain your visa in advance and for easy handling we recommend
groups to get the it in advance in any case. To apply at a foreign
mission abroad you require a visa authorization letter from our
side. Kindly forward us your full personal details together with
your passport number, date of issue and validity and we will issue
the authorization letter with which you will be able to obtain the
visa at the Embassy or Consulate near you.